The debate was – on the whole – refreshingly civilized on both sides. For whatever reason, Senator McCain decided not to directly attack Senator Obama on character and while both sides did their share of hammering the other guy’s record and proposals, they spent the majority of the time talking about their ideas. This was much closer to Loveland’s “wouldn’t it be nice if” scenario he outlined earlier today.
Early reviews from CNN’s panel of endlessly talking heads was that it wasn’t a game-changer and that’s the way I saw it too. Obama accomplished his goals of – again – appearing calm, collected and – yes – Presidential and McCain did not – again – succeed in portraying Obama as inexperienced or himself as a more compelling leader.
The CBS instant poll of undecided voters indicated 40 percent of the 516 respondents said Barack Obama was the winner; 26 percent said John McCain won and 34 percent saw the debate as a draw. The CNN poll of debate watchers had it 54-30 in favor of Obama. Neither poll had much good news for the Arizona Senator…54 percent of CNN respondents said Obama seemed to be the stronger leader during the debate versus 43 percent for McCain; viewers though Obama was more likeable than McCain 65 percent to 28 percent; a majority thought Obama was more intelligent, 57 percent to 25, and 60 percent thought Obama more clearly expressed himself than McCaiBefn (30 percent).
In the CBS poll results, 80 percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems versus 44 percent for McCain. McCain, however, did come out on top in one measurement: 83 percent thought he was ready to be president versus just 58 percent for Obama.
The talking heads were critical of the format and of moderator Tom Brokaw, but I thought Brokaw was right to let them talk and at one point to ignore the rules and actually respond to one another. It was almost like a real debate.
Tomorrow, of course, Team McCain will be back on the character offensive (and Team Obama will resume playing offensive defense), but for tonight we were spared another round of Ayers versus Keating.
Fueling the McCain attack tomorrow will be a new CNN look at the Obama-Ayers connection that is more suggestive than the New York Times‘ treatment from last week. This will no doubt be a relief to Ms. Palin as I’m sure having to cite the Times was causing canker sores.
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