Live-blogging the first debate

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LIVE BLOGGING

6:52 p.m. Eight questions the debate could answer (Washington Post). It says the first debate is usually the most important.

8:00 p.m. - We’re underway. Welcome to all of you who have already given up on the Twins tonight.

8:03 p.m. – Lehrer outlines the specific. Nine-minute segments. The audience has promised to remain silent. (They won’t).

Where do you stand on financial recovery plan

Obama: We’re at a defining moment. Two wars and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. His plan (a) Oversight (b) Taxpayer protection (c) None of money to go to CEOs (d) Help homeowners. He’s outlined the Democratic proposals.

McCain Opens with concern for Ted Kennedy who’s in the hospital. McCain says he’s feeling better because Republicans and Dems are talking to each other.

“This is the end of the beginning,” McCain says. Calls for an end to dependence on foreign oil.

8:10 p.m. McCain says he will vote for the plan. Calls for more accountability. Obama says “we need it but not just when there’s a crisis.”

8:12 p.m. The bailout plan is still a standoff. McCain says he’d vote for it, however it’s constructed, apparently.

8:16 p.m. – McCain hits Obama for “earmarks.” Obama says earmarks accounted for $18 billion in lat budget, says McCain is asking for $300 billion in tax cuts for wealthy.

8:19 p.m. Fact Check. Wall St. Journal last spring pegged cost of McCain tax cuts at $400 billion.

8:22 p.m. McCain hits Obama on cost of Obama’s ‘earmarks’ Obama talks about loopholes. Says FactCheck.org:


Obama said he could “pay for every dime” of his spending and tax cut proposals “by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens.” That’s wrong – his proposed tax increases on upper-income individuals are key components of paying for his program, as well.

8:24 p.m. – Question: What are you going to have to give up in terms of priorities, to pay for the rescue plan?

Obama says it’s hard to anticipate, acknowledges there are things that won’t be able to be done, but doesn’t answer the question, restating stump speech of what must be done instead.

8:28 p.m. – Lehrer should utter the magic words, “you didn’t answer my question.”

8:29 p.m. – McCain says he’d do away with ethanol subsidies. I wonder what people would be asking Tim Pawlenty if he’d made the #2 spot on the ticket. Still, that’s the only item he indicated he’d cut… at least specifically.

Lehrer says “neither one of you wants to change government significantly as a result of the bailout?” Again Obama talks about what he would do, not what he wouldn’t. He says he may cut programs that haven’t even been implemented yet.

8:32 p.m. – Lehrer incredulous that neither candidate sees the bailout affecting the government.

McCain calls for a spending freeze (did I hear a groan in the UBS Forum?). Obama says that’s using a hatchet where you need a scalpel.

8:35 p.m. Via Twitter:


Erik Hare -McCain responds with a shibboleth and an attack. At least he’s on the problems with Defense spending, but not what people care about.

8:38 p.m. – Quick review from the comments section:


It’s like they’re just restating their standard stump speeches… over and over and over again. “Excuse me, if I may, Senator.” Lehrer is doing a pretty good job as a moderator. And did McCain just suggest a spending freeze? You know his aides are sitting there, cringing.

Question: Much has been said about lessons of Vietnam, what about the lessons of Iraq?

8:39 p.m. – McCain, “You can’t have a failed strategy that nearly leads to losing the conflict.”

8:41 p.m. – Obama: The first question is how we got into the war in the first place.

8:43 p.m. – via Twitter:


dslunceford Anyone else notice that Obama refers to McCain as “John,” while McCain refers primarily to “Senator Obama?”

8:44 p.m. I think Obama is trying to work Palin into this. He talks about Joe Biden handling Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Obama acknowledges things are better in iraq, “but that was tactic to confine the damage of the previous four years of mismanagement.” Says McCain talks like the war started in 2007.

8:46 p.m. – McCain says Sen. Obama “refused to acknowledge that we’re winning in Iraq.” Obama says “that’s not true.” And, indeed, if you look at the above paragraph, it’s not.

Afghanistan: More troops?

8:50 p.m. Obama: Yes.

8:53 p.m. McCain: I think he said “yes” although he never said “yes.” Now, he’s on to Pakistan, so he’s not prepared to threaten it.

Which brings this comment from Twitter (actually it came before McCain mentioned it)


planetrussell NATO statement today in re Pakistani forces opening fire on 2 US copters near Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Gentlemen, what say you?

McCain says Marriott bombing was a sign from terrorists. He also says the tactics in Afghanistan will be the “same ones Obama has opposed.”

Obama says nobody is talking about attacking Pakistan. “Coming from you, someone who’s talked about extinction in North Korea…. ” (drowned out by laughter in the UBS Forum. I presume it had to do with the “Bomb Iran” Beach Boys thing.)

8:59 p.m. – McCain injects the bracelet of the dead soldier story. I’m betting he’s about to show the bracelet. He didn’t, though. I wonder if he’s still wearing it. (My error, he showed it.)

9:03 p.m. – Question: What is your reading from the threat from Iran?

McCain: If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it’s a threat to the state of Israel and other countries in the reason, who’ll want to acquire nukes. “We cannot allow another Holocaust.” Military strike? No, a League of Democracies to meet to impose “significant sanctions on the Iranians.”

9:06 p.m. Obama – “I believe the Republican Guard is a terrorist organization.” He says “the notion that we not talk to our enemies has not worked.”

9:08 p.m. “What about talking,” Lehrer asks. McCain says Obama has said he’d talk to head of “terrorist states” without precondition. Note: McCain has said he wouldn’t speak to Spain.

>> Kansas City 7 Minnesota 1 (Couldn’t see that coming, could you?))

9:14 p.m. McCain was stumbling through the economic section, but steeled himself during the foreign policy portion of the debate. Obama forceful, but is being put on defensive consistently. Who’s “winning”? You tell me.

RUSSIA

9:16 p.m. – Obama: “Our approach has to be evaluated. Their actions were unwarranted. Russia must leave the two Georgian provinces, but doesn’t say how that’s going to happen.”

9:19 p.m. McCain: Uses “naivete” for the third time in the debate to describe Obama. No accident, of course. “We want to work with the Russians, but we have every right to expect the Russians to behave.” McCain does a nice explanation of the role Ukraine will play in the conflict.

Obama says he and McCain agree. Cleverly (desperately?) steers the conversation to energy and drilling for oil.

CHANCE OF BEING ATTACKED AGAIN

9:26 p.m. – Less than it was Says he’s proud of getting 9/11 reforms written into law. The heads of the 9/11 Commission have a different view. They said the country is still “dangerously vulnerable.”

9:29 p.m. Al Qaeda is operating in 60 countries, we can’t just fight them in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama says.

9:33 p.m. – Obama talks about the war in Iraq and says we can’t fund Veteran’s Care or provide health care for children. Fine, but why didn’t he say what the new bailout would have us NOT doing when he was asked earlier in this debate?

9:35 p.m. – McCain: “I know how to heal the wounds of war.” End of debate, but don’t go away! We’re just starting here at the debate-watching party.

WHAT THE PEOPLE THINK

9:40 p.m. – No “undecideds” have been swayed. Poor Curtis Gilbert of MPR was going to do a story on what the “undecideds” think. That’ll be tough, now.

9:42 p.m. Undecided: “I saw an Obama who provided information, but I didn’t like his character. McCain seemed less clear, but I liked his character.”

“Which is more important to you,” moderator Jeff Horwich asks.

“Over the months I thought Obama had better stump speeches, but I didn’t see that tonight so I’m in more of a quandry than before.”

9:45 p.m. – John (Undecided) – “I thought McCain was a cadaver.” OK, there’s some political analysis. “He looked like he was just out of storage. He says he’s now in the Obama camp.

9:46 p.m. – Tina (Undecided): “McCain was condescending.”

9:49 p.m. Mitch Berg (McCain supporter and writer of Shot in the Dark blog) “I thought McCain mopped the floor with him on gravitas and experience.” In the first few minutes, he think McCain looked stiff.

9:51 p.m. Obama supporter: She was originally a Clinton supporter and says Obama ‘takes away the cowboy effect we’ve gone with the last few years.”

9:52 p.m. Jamie (Undecided): Was a Clinton supporter. During the debate “I made the joke to my friend that I think they gave McCain a nap because he looked more alive than I expected. I felt they both seemed nervous in the beginning. McCain seemed to have more of a presence.”

9:55 p.m. Barry (Independent) “I’m bummed out. We still don’t know how we’re not going to be (in Iraq) for 100 years.”

9:58 p.m. That didn’t take long, there’s already an ad out:

10 p.m. Matthew (Obama supporter): “I felt McCain was as divisive a character as Bush, even if he did some bipartisan work years ago.”

We’re done here. Thanks for sticking with me this evening. Keep on talking in the comments section. I’ll be here off and on through the weekend.

  • http://www.stevemullis.net Stev

    Man the UBS forum is looking sweet! You guys vacuumed and everything.

  • brian

    It may be too wonky, but I think democrats should bring up the relative proportions of parts of the budget more often. Cutting spending sounds great, but it doesn’t really make much of a dent in the budget when discretionary spending is such a small part of it.

  • http://twitter.com/bwaybaby Ryan

    It’s like they’re just restating their standard stump speeches… over and over and over again. “Excuse me, if I may, Senator.” Lehrer is doing a pretty good job as a moderator. And did McCain just suggest a spending freeze? You know his aides are sitting there, cringing.

  • Glenn Perez

    McCain states that whats, “important is the track records”. Track records are the past. We need to plan for the furture. McCain doesn’t have a good furture plan. Tax our health care? Really?

  • http://twitter.com/bwaybaby Ryan

    “Orgy of spending?” Sounds like a lot more fun than it actually is. And if McCain says he’s not “Miss Congeniality” one more time, this debate is going to be the Gayest Ever(TM).

  • Aaron

    Why doesn’t McCain ever address Senator Obama? Obama seems interested in playing Lehrer’s let’s-get-you-two-talking-to-each-other game, but McCain seems like he’s in another state or something. Why is he not open to dialog?

  • kate

    McCain talked about “you don’t say that outloud” — so what else would McCain not mention to the American people?

  • Heather

    Whoa! Obama’s got a bracelet too!

    Gotcha.

  • Jack Dempsey

    The best remarks I’ve heard so far are those posted here by Ryan–Ryan, keep talking!

  • Misha

    I find McCain’s tone of condescension to be extremely frustrating. But ever more frustrating is Obama’s seeming inability to effectively respond to it.

  • Kate

    Why won’t McCain look at Obama? It seems strange and disrespectful that he keeps looking down or into the audience with that smirk on his face. It is weird and awkward and frustrating.

  • momkat

    McCain seems to lapse into “old man yells at cloud” once in a while.

  • http://twitter.com/bwaybaby Ryan

    Listening to the old man try to pronounce Ahmadienjad was quite entertaining. And not talking to someone is only a punishment when you’re in fifth grade.

  • Jack Dempsey

    McCain’s not looking at Obama is only one of the things that makes Obama look more presidential.

  • Heather

    Misha, I disagree with you on Obama’s responses to McCain’s condescension. I think his retorts are pretty incisive (loved his “inside baseball” remark when McCain brought up his ‘inactive’ subcomittee), and that McCain is coming across as kind of a windbag.

  • Heather

    Ryan, do I know you? Fifth grade is right.

  • http://twitter.com/bwaybaby Ryan

    Via @dknutson on Twitter: Obama is wearing a flag lapel pin, McCain is not.

  • http://twitter.com/bwaybaby Ryan

    I’d say Obama is winning, simply by (mostly) not stooping to the level of playground taunts that McCain has, or the condescending tone of voice that McCain is using. He’s cool, collected, and can actually pronounce foreign leaders’ names… and he makes eye contact with his opponent.

    Oh, and Heather–I don’t think I know you… Message me on Twitter if you use it, though.

  • Jack Dempsey

    I, too, would say Obama is winning, at least in the performative sense, though the debate as a whole is disappointing, a lot of yammering without much honing of positions. It’s clear to me from the debate, however, that I’ll be voting for Obama–but I’ve felt that since the start.

  • Heather

    Ryan, you’re not “my” Ryan, but the fact that I thought you were is definitely a compliment.

    Given the recent dishonesty of the McCain campaign, I wonder what, if any, effect the repetition of “That’s not true” by Obama is having. If folks have been paying attention, will that reinforce the sense of desperation surrounding McCain this week?

  • Jack Dempsey

    When did these sentimental overtures and importunings–the bracelets, the “when I came home from prison”–become such a primary feature of political discourse?

    Obama did a stronger wrap-up by focusing on the world’s perception of the US.

  • Maureen

    McCain seemed to have tunnel vision, focusing primarily on defense and on Iraq, whereas Obama talked about education, health care, defense, the status of the country’s reputation and more. McCain didn’t really talk about domestic issues except drilling offshore.

  • kate

    Obama was conversational, but McCain was condescending and disrespectful. From a non-white-male point of view I think John McCain was trying to put Obama “in his place”.

  • Brent Ruter

    The punditry on PBS is driving me nuts in their first take on the debates by bemoaning the follwoing: a) the lack of quotable lines; b) candidates failing to connect important policy questions to core values, and; c) the large degree of detail of both candidates policy positions.

    Perhaps the talking heads could serve democracy better by actually engaging on policy as the candidates attempted this evening.

  • Enfera

    Man, I’m disappointed! I wanted a strong match but it was obvious from the begining that it was going to be a Special Debate.

  • Maureen

    McCain talked about his experience and how he should be the one in the White House because of it. He didn’t talk about his age and his health and how they could cut short his presidency–what about his Vice-President? Does she have the experience? I don’t think so. That’s a scary prospect.

  • Kelly

    I was very dissapointed to see John McCain turn into a typical Republican come election season. (i.e. talking over and interrupting Sen. Obama) He may have been moderate once upon a time, but I think he showed tonight how red he has become.

  • Brent

    Kelly, I found that Sen Obama interrupted Sen McCain quite a bit more, especially in the beginning of the debate–he was just smoother about doing it.

  • http://www.shotinthedark.info Mitch Berg

    I was very dissapointed to see John McCain turn into a typical Republican come election season.

    Well, to be fair, we knew that the media would start portraying him as a “typical Republican” the moment he got the endorsement.

    As to McCain’s alleged “Condescending” – I dunno.. Speaking as a “bitter, gun-clinging Jesus freak”, I may not be the one to comment.

    But thanks, MPR, for putting on the event. As I told a few of y’all – I spend so little time with “undecided” people; most of my friends are liberals or conservatives; almost none are undecided. The forum focused on them pretty heavily, and it was interesting.

    Thanks for the invite!

  • marcus

    McCain and the republican party are completely stupid thinking that we are dumb enough to fall for the old switch aro. They care aboout the economy and the surge was successful? THE WAR IS THE DIRECT RESULT OF THIS LACKING ECONOMY THE PUSH FOR LOWER INTEREST RATES AND TEASER LOANS WAS DIRECTLY IN RESPONSE TO THE AILING ECONOMY IN THE FIRST PLACE AND NOW LOOK WHERE WE ARE BROKE THIS COUNTRYS BROKE WE ARE BROKE EVEN THE RICH ARE GOING BROKE. GET WITH IT AND FIRE THESE IDIOTS BY VOTING THEM OUT ALL THEY DO IS TALK ABOUT WAR AND FUNDING IT. We could bail out all our problems with the money we are blowing on the war. End the war who cares about iraq let them go under and let someone else keep the dam oil and start spending our money on our own resources and tech natural gas wind solar. Stop pretending and changing the topic McCain that the war is succesful in iraq are you nuts. YOU FAILED OUR ECONOMY IS GONE THERE IS NO ECONOMY YOU AREN’T LIVING IN THE SAME COUNTRY I AM I GOT HOUSES VACANT ALL AROUND MY HOUSE RETARD JUST DIE ALREADY YOU OLD BAG. YOU LOOK LIKE BUSH EVIL OLDER BROTHER. AND ALL YOU RACIST WHITE IDIOTS THAT ARE VOTING REP JUST TO SPITE OBAMA FOR BEING BLACK I HOPE YOU SUFFER IN POVERTY BECAUSE THATS WHERE ANOTHER 2 YRS LET ALONE 4 WILL HAVE ALL MIDDLE CLASS AMERICANS TOTALLY BROKE AND THE RICH IDIOTS WILL BE BAILED OUT OF EVERY BAD ENDEAVOR OR FAILED ATTEMPT TO ROB US WITH A PEN. IT IS TRULY A REP OR DEM DECISION THAT THE FACTS YOU MORONS SWAYED BY MAVERICK OR LIPSTICK NEED YOUR HEAD CHECKED AND THE WAX PULLED OUT OF YOUR EARS THE REAL ISSUES THAT THEY SO SNEAKLY SWAYED FROM ARE THERE ARE NO NUKES IN IRAQ WE FUNDED BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR THIS REASON AND THERE ARE NONE WE WERE IN AFGAN FOR BIN LADEN ANYWAY AND WERENT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE IN IRAQ REMEMBER 911 THAT LIE ONE TWO AND THREE LIE FOUR TRICKY LOANS AND WALL STREET LIE 5 THE SURGE LIE 6 THE ECONOMY IS STRONG LIE 7 THAT FANNIE AND FREDDIE HAVE PLENTY OF LIQUIDITY LIE 8 PEAK OIL THEOERY SO THEY CAN HAVE AN EXCUSE TO JACK UP OIL PRICES TO FORCE YOU TO PAY MORE AT THE PUMP SO THEY CAN RECOVER LOSES IN THE MARKET AND REINVEST. WATCH THE NEXT LIE WILL BE THE FDIC HAS PLENTY OF MONEY AND THEN IT TO WILL FAIL EVERYONE WILL PULL OUT THERE MONEY AND THE WHOLE FINANCIAL SYSTEM WILL COLLAPSE THIS COUTRY IS BUILT ON LIES. BUT AT LEAST BE SMART AND PICK THE ONES THAT LIE THE LEASE AND DIDNT STEAL TRILLIONS OF TAX PAYER DOLLARS TO FUND WARS BANK FAILURES AND INVESTMENT FIRMS THESE REPUBLICANS ARE CROOKS AND THEY ARE RIGHT IN YOU FACE DOING IT AND YOU STILL VOTE FOR THEM INSANE YOU PEOPLE WANT TO WORK AND GIVE YOU MONEY TO THE RICH AND THE RICH SAY WELL WE MAKE JOBS SURE YOU MAKE JOBS WITH OUR FIN MONEY YOU PAY NO TAXES USE MIDDLE CLASS LABOR LIKE DAM MULES AND WE DO ALL THE WORK AND YOU GET RICH DOWN WITH THE RICH VOTE THE 7% OUT OF OFFICE AND NEVER LET THEM BACK. TAKE THERE POWER AWAY NO MORE BAIL OUTS LET THE SYSTEM FAIL AND REBOOT ID RATHER LOSE EVERYTHING TO WATCH YOU SUFFER YOU THIEVES. YOU STOLE OUR LIVES FROM US .

    VOTE FOR BARRACK OBAMA IF YOU HAVE A BRAIN CELL LEFT IN YOUR HEAD IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND DONT MAKE A SALARY THAT IS WELL INTO THE MILLIONS IN ASSETS YOU ARE A DEMOCRAT AND YOU DONT EVEN KNOW IT THESE PEOPLE ARE MILLIONAIRES AND YOUR A BUMB IF YOU ARE NOT APPROACHING A BILLIONAIRE I GOT RETARDS WITH MCCAIN SIGNS DURING THIS TIME WAKE UP.

    On a simple note you can not have a republican president and get anything done you must have a democrat because the dems have the power in congress nothing will get done everything would get vetoed like this moron bush who looks like hes married to his sister like some stupid hick with nothing better to do than screw up peoples lives has been doing for the last 2 years. This is why the economy is failing so bad because he vetos them they veto him a politcal stand off while we are dying out here trying to pay bills with our retirement savings. My grandparents are all losing everything and this whole coutrys a mess and maverick and lipstick mom want to drive this puppy till the wheels fall off. You can only be so rich spread the wealth you greedy slimy hypocritical christian retards arent the republicans the church going nut job real god like kill everyone steall everyones money and tell eveyone else on the planet russia iran china korea that they shouldnt do it get real.

  • Jim

    As a snide comment on the theatrics, hasn’t McCain ever watched the first Kennedy-Nixon debate?

    The camera is still on you when your opponent is speaking. Fidgeting, grimacing, and nervous movements signal that either you feel uncomfortable with the situation or that you forget to visit the restroom before the debate started. Obama seemed much more relaxed.

    I agree that both candidates did well on substance, but neither deviated far from their standard stump speech.

  • b2

    Thoughtful comments, although all Obama or indi voters. A few pro=McCain comments would have been interesting. I liked Ryan too. P.S. correspondents who send more than 1 or 2 words in caps are annoying.

  • wanda

    When speaking about Iran, Senator McCain said, “…Iran is an existential threat to Israel..” Did Senator McCain really mean existential or was that a gaffe? Also, what was the cliche Senator McCain used when talking about strategies in Iraq that included “victory” and “jaws of defeat”?

  • http://Iwuzthinking.blogspot.com Bruce

    Did McCain really say that he wouldn’t repeat the “mistake” of not responding to the Soviet invasion of Afganistan? I thought that was a little bizarre. Does this mean he would play a presidential role of “there’s a new sheriff in town?” Would he have started WWIII? What was that supposed to mean?