October 27, 2008: In the Aftermath of the Debates…

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:

The week that was….

  • October 26, 2008: McCain says ‘I’m going to win it’ as Obama says the Republican is running out of time’ … McCain says Palin returned some of the $150,000 in clothing the Republican Party bought her … The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s largest newspaper, endorses Obama for president … – AP
  • October 25, 2008: Obama, campaigning in New Mexico, reaches out to Hispanic voters … McCain looks for votes in West as he portrays Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal … Can’t stop talking: Nader claims Guinness record for speech making – AP
  • October 24, 2008: Obama spends records in first 2 weeks; cash reserves for both candidates dwindle … Obama leaves campaign trail to visit ill grandmother … Former Mass. Gov. William Weld, a Republican, endorses Obama for ‘ability to unify’ … McCain soldiers on in Colorado despite cutting ad spending and trailing Obama in polls AP
    McCain says Obama’s economic plan would harm middle class; warns against one-party control … Palin to speak under oath on Troopergate firing … Biden dismisses McCain claim on change as Democrat campaigns in West Virginia … McCain campaign pays Palin’s makeup artist more than foreign policy adviser in October … Obama leaves campaign trail to visit ill grandmother … Former Mass. Gov. William Weld, a Republican, endorses Obama for ‘ability to unify’ – AP
    Lieberman skirts question on whether Palin is ready to be president … McCain’s brother dropping out of campaign after calling 911 to complain about traffic … Ex-Justice lawyers want attorney general to ensure investigation won’t hinder minority voters …. – AP
  • October 23, 2008: Palin blames ‘double standard’ for flap over her designer clothes … Grandmother ailing, Obama returns to Hawaii for what might be their final visit … McCain soldiers on in Colorado despite cutting ad spending and trailing Obama in polls … — AP
    Obama launches sharp offensive in Indiana against McCain’s corporate tax breaks … McCain says Obama changed tax plan to avoid criticism … Biden tells NC audience McCain is getting out of control when steady hand needed … McCain keeps comment short on Palin’s GOP-paid $150,000 shopping spree … Former Minn. Gov. Carlson, a Republican, endorses Obama for president … On election night, McCain to speak to supporters’ via television from hotel lawn – AP
  • October 22, 2008: McCain to traverse Florida with ‘Joe the Plumber’ as the focus of his anti-tax pitch … Obama to campaign in red-state Indiana before flying to visit ill grandmother in Hawaii … Biden lashes out at corporate executives who make millions while their employees lose pensions – AP….
    AP poll: McCain gains, drawing even with Obama with two weeks until Election Day … Obama says he only wants to reverse tax cuts for the wealthy that McCain himself opposed … McCain asks New Hampshire voters for another come-from-behind victory … Palin calls Obama “Barack the wealth spreader” … GOP spent $150,000 in campaign funds to accessorize Palin — AP
  • October 21, 2008: In tossup Florida, Obama says McCain offers ‘willful ignorance, wishful thinking’ on economy … McCain reminds Biden he’s been tested in just the kind of crisis he warns Obama may face … Obama spends $87.5 million in September; entered October with $133.6 million in hand … Negative ads leave undecideds decidedly unmoved — AP
    Obama takes on national security while keeping focus on economy during Va. swing … McCain returns to NH, site of two pivotal primary wins, hoping to stave off November loss … Palin charged state for children’s travel, later amended expense reports –
  • October 20, 2008: Obama to take time off from campaign to go to Hawaii to visit ill, 85-year-old grandmother … McCain says his concern about Obama’s readiness for presidency is bolstered by Biden’s warning … Obama brings Democratic governors of GOP states to Florida for summit on his jobs plan. AP
    Obama spends $87.5 million in September; enters October with $133.6 million in hand … McCain dismisses idea that the economy is a losing issue for his presidential campaign … Obama brings Democratic governors of GOP states to Florida for summit on his jobs plan – AP….
    Obama invokes Reagan line to criticize handling of the economy; vows to halt foreclosures … McCain, supporters target liberal, feminists, media to rally GOP base in bellwether Missouri … McCain spends $37 million in September, has $47 million for campaign in October … Sarah Palin hits Obama again on taxes … Biden’s medical records show he appears in very good health 20 years after aneurysm – AP
  • October 19, 2008: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorses Obama, criticizes tone of McCain’s campaign … Palins set to give depositions to Troopergate investigator this week … Obama exudes confidence, reaches for decisive victory in Republican states. – AP

The Stats

  • October 25, 2008: John McCain leads Barack Obama nationally by 22 percentage points among white men and by 7 points among white women, according to a recent AP-GfK survey. – AP
  • October 23, 2008: Democrat Barack Obama has a 7-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain — 50 percent to 43 percent — among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update. – AP, 10-23-08
  • October 22, 2008: John McCain has an 18-percentage-point lead among rural voters over Barack Obama, according to a recent AP-GfK survey – AP, 10-22-08
  • October 22, 2008: Associated Press-GfK poll found Obama at 44 percent and McCain at 43 percent – AP, 10-22-08
  • October 22, 2008: Democrat Barack Obama has a 9-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain — 51 percent to 42 percent — among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update. – AP, 10-22-08
  • October 19, 2008: Democrat Barack Obama is trusted more than Republican John McCain to improve the economy by 54 percent to 44 percent and to handle the financial crisis by 53 percent to 46 percent, according to a recent AP-Yahoo News poll. – AP, 10-19-08
  • October 14, 2008: 63.2 million: The number of viewers watching the second presidential debate on Oct. 7 between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, according to Nielsen Media Research.

In the News…

Campaign Bloopers

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Historians Size Up Obama’s Timeout”: Though Mr. Obama is leading in the polls, “there are still so many uncertainties, and 36 hours is a lot of time in two weeks,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. “Even having television campaigning isn’t the same as being there in person. There is a cost.” Still, he said, the lost personal connection with undecided voters could be offset by the focus of media attention on Mr. Obama’s personal life and his compassion. “One of the issues that Obama has faced is people literally knowing who he is,” Mr. Zelizer continued, noting that opponents had tried to raise questions in voters minds like “is he a socialist, aligned with terrorists?” – NYT, 10-21-08
  • Stephen Hess “Historians Size Up Obama’s Timeout”: Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution also saw potential that the trip could help flesh out voters’ image of Mr. Obama. “They say he’s too mechanical, he’s cool, and here he does something terribly human,” Mr. Hess said in a telephone interview. “This isn’t planned by his strategist. He made the case in his book that she is very important to him. You can turn it around and ask, ‘What if he didn’t go?'” In short, he said, “It’s an awful thing to say — but it’s a political plus.” And besides, Mr. Hess added, “people in Ohio have grandmothers, too.” – NYT, 10-21-08
  • Doug Wead “Historians Size Up Obama’s Timeout”: Doug Wead, the controversial presidential historian — he has written about presidential families and revealed in 2005 that he had secretly taped George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas — found a somewhat comparable situation from a century ago, involving William Howard Taft. In 1907, Taft was secretary of war under Theodore Roosevelt, his close friend and adviser, who had promised not to run again and had chosen Taft as his preferred successor. Roosevelt urged Taft to make a round-the-world goodwill trip and get to know world leaders before the 1908 election. But there was a problem. “Taft was very much a mamma’s boy,” Mr. Wead said in a telephone interview today. “His mother was dying, and he thought that he had to cancel the trip.” Louisa Torrey Taft would not hear of it, though. Mr. Wead said she wrote her son a letter that said, in effect, “No Taft to my knowledge has ever turned down a public duty to fulfill a private need.” Taft went on the world tour, and his mother died while he was away, two months before her 80th birthday. Still, he won the presidency the following year, in an era before the extensive personal campaigning that marks today’s presidential politics. – NYT, 10-21-08
  • Gil Troy “Stuck In the Muck Mudslinging Isn’t New. Here’s the Messy Truth”: “Everybody always assumes there was a golden age of presidential campaigning that occurred 20 years ago,” says Gil Troy, an American history scholar at McGill University. “Almost from the start, American politics had its two sides — it had its Sunday morning high church sermon side, and it had its Saturday night rough-and- tumble ugly side.”… Oh, “John Quincy Adams was accused of pimping for the czar,” Troy says. Really. The czar of Russia. The press backing Jackson labeled Adams “The Pimp.” – Washington Post, 10-13-08
  • David A. Hollinger: Palin Distorts Small-Town America – New West Politics, 10-12-08
  • David S. Tanenhaus: Barack, Bill, and MeThe Bill Ayers that Barack Obama and I worked with was no “domestic terrorist.” – Slate, 10-10-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Palin Abused Power in Trooper Case, Alaska Probe Says”: “It’s one more blow to a deeply troubled campaign,” said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton University in New Jersey. “The report on Palin raises more questions about why McCain made this choice and how much he really cares about fighting corruption.” – Bloomberg, 10-11-08
  • Dewar MacLeod “A lesson for WPU students in making every vote count”: “Democracy is not something that happens only once every four years; democracy needs to happen every single day. While this year’s ongoing presidential election promises to bring millions of new voters, especially the young, I hope students will also explore and participate in the ongoing process of civic engagement. Our democracy is only as strong as citizens are willing to make it.” – NorthJersey.com, NJ, 10-11-08
  • Peter Kastor “If history is guide, path to White House is through Missouri”: “Missouri is in the middle of the country geographically but also the center of the country politically,” Washington University history professor Peter Kastor said. “It is a state where various regional political cultures all exist.” – AFP, 10-10-08

On The Campaign Trail….

  • October 26, 2008: John McCain on Meet the Press, Discussing the Palins $150,000 Wardrobe Look, she lives a frugal life. She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this, and there was some — and some third of that money is given back, the rest will be donated to charity.
  • October 25, 2008: Barack Obama at the University of New Mexico to Hispanic Voters They’ll ask us is this a time when America lost its sense of purpose, when we lost our nerve, when we allowed the same divisions and fears to point us into a deeper recession or, will they say, is this one of those moments when America overcomes?…It’s time to build this economy by investing in the middle class again, and that’s what I’ll do as president.
  • October 25, 2008: John McCain in New Mexico: I’m a fellow Westerner, I understand the issues, I understand the challenges the great Western states face. We know what our great Southwest is, we welcome it and I’m proud to be a senator from the West.
  • “We’re a few points down and the pundits, of course, as they have four or five times, have written us off. We’ve got them just where we want them.” — John McCain.
  • October 24, 2008: John McCain at a rally in Denver The answer to a slowing economy is not higher taxes, but that is exactly what is going to happen when the Democrats have total control in Washington….
    Anytime you hear talk of a targeted tax increase, you might want to double-check the skill of the marksman — the U.S Congress has been known to fire wildly. America didn’t become the greatest nation on earth by giving our money to the government to spread the wealth around.
  • October 24, 2008: Biden said during an outdoor rally in CHARLESTON, W.Va. I know Halloween is coming, but John McCain as the candidate of change? Whoa, come on, John McCain and change? He needs a costume for that. Folks, the American people aren’t going to buy this.
  • “And too often, even if our own day, it seems that children with special needs have been set apart and excluded. Too often state and federal laws add to those challenges. … And I’m going to work to change that.” — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
  • October 24, 2008: Joe Lieberman on Sarah Palin’s readiness Thank God, she’s not gonna have to be president from day one, because McCain’s going to be alive and well… If, God forbid, an accident occurs or something of that kind, she’ll be ready. She’s had executive experience. She’s smart and she will have had on-the-job training. I hope and pray, and I am working my heart out for McCain to be elected our next president, but if for whatever the reason he is not, I am going to do everything I can to be part of bringing people together across party lines to support the new president so he can succeed. What’s at stake for our country is just too serious.
  • October 23, 2008: John McCain in Ormond Beach, Florida: Thirteen days to go, and he changed his tax plan because the American people had learned the truth about it and they didn’t like it. It’s another example that he’ll say anything to get elected.
  • October 22, 2008: Barack Obama John McCain likes to talk about Joe the Plumber, but he’s in cahoots with Joe the CEO.
  • October 22, 2008: Barack Obama at a News Conference in Response to Republican Assertions Was John McCain a socialist back in 2000? I think it’s an indication that they have run out of ideas.
  • October 22, 2008: John McCain at a rally in a college hockey rink in GOFFSTOWN, N.H. I love you. I love New Hampshire. I know I can count on you again to come from behind and take a victory and bring it all the way to Washington, D.C., next January. I’m asking you to come out one more time. Get out the vote.
    Acting like the election is over won’t let him take away your chance to have the final say in this election.
  • October 21, 2008: Barack Obama says McCain offers ‘willful ignorance’ While President Bush and Sen. McCain were ready to move heaven and earth to address the crisis on Wall Street, the president has failed so far to address the crisis on Main Street, and Sen. McCain has failed to fully acknowledge it.
  • October 21, 2008: John McCain speaking about the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis in HARRISBURG, Pa.: I was on board the USS Enterprise. I sat in the cockpit, on the flight deck of the USS Enterprise, off of Cuba. I had a target. My friends, you know how close we came to a nuclear war.
  • October 20, 2008: John McCain in Belton, Mo. responding to Joe bidens comments: Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy: We don’t want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars. What is more troubling is that Sen. Biden told their campaign donors that when that crisis hits, they would have to stand with them, because it wouldn’t be apparent Sen. Obama would have the right response. Forget apparent. Sen. Obama won’t have the right response, and we know that because we’ve seen the wrong response from him over and over during this campaign.
  • October 20, 2008: Sarah Palin: I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans … to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that’s where we would go.
  • October 20, 2008: Barack Obama Speaking in Miami: I’ve got news for Sen. McCain: Hardworking families who’ve been hard hit by this economic crisis — folks who can’t pay their mortgages or their medical bills or send their kids to college — they can’t afford to wait and see. They can’t afford to go to the back of the line behind CEOs and Wall Street banks.
  • October 20, 2008: Barack Obama in Tampa, FL, using Ronald Reagan Campaign line in 1980: At this rate, the question isn’t just “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” It’s “Are you better off than you were four weeks ago?”
  • October 19, 2008: Colin Powell endorsing Barack Obama on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: It isn’t easy for me to disappoint Senator McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that. I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that’s why I’m supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Senator John McCain.
    I found that (John McCain) was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having. Almost every day there was a different approach to the problem and that concerned me, sensing that he doesn’t have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had.
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The Third Presidential Debate: Highlights

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: THE FINAL PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

The Third Presidential Debate between Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain, was held October 15, 2008 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Bob Schieffer of CBS News moderated the debate which focused on domestic issues and the economy.

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain face off at Hofstra University (Photo: Damon Winter / The New York Times)

Barack Obama and John McCain face off at Hofstra University

The Stats

  • Mediacurves: 60% of Independents say Obama won, 30% say McCain, 10% called it a tie
  • A CBS poll of uncommitted voters: 53% of voters say Obama won, 22% say McCain.
  • CNN debate poll: 58% of voters say Obama won, 31% say McCain
  • Polls October 14, 2008: General Election: McCain vs. Obama – Real Clear Politics, 10-14-08
  • Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby: Obama has four-point lead on McCain: 48 percent to 44 – Reuters, 10-13-08

In the News…

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain before their third and final debate at Hofstra University. (Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

Barack Obama and John McCain before the debate

Candidate Soundbites

  • Full Transcript Download

    On Joe the Plumber

  • McCAIN: No. I would like to mention that a couple days ago Sen. Obama was out in Ohio and he had an encounter with a guy who’s a plumber, his name is Joe Wurzelbacher. Joe wants to buy the business that he has been in for all of these years, worked 10, 12 hours a day. And he wanted to buy the business but he looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes. You were going to put him in a higher tax bracket which was going to increase his taxes, which was going to cause him not to be able to employ people, which Joe was trying to realize the American dream. Now Sen. Obama talks about the very, very rich. Joe, I want to tell you, I’ll not only help you buy that business that you worked your whole life for and be able — and I’ll keep your taxes low and I’ll provide available and affordable health care for you and your employees. And I will not have — I will not stand for a tax increase on small business income. Fifty percent of small business income taxes are paid by small businesses. That’s 16 million jobs in America. And what you want to do to Joe the plumber and millions more like him is have their taxes increased and not be able to realize the American dream of owning their own business.
  • OBAMA: He has been watching ads of Sen. McCain’s. Let me tell you what I’m actually going to do. I think tax policy is a major difference between Sen. McCain and myself. And we both want to cut taxes, the difference is who we want to cut taxes for…. Now, the conversation I had with Joe the plumber, what I essentially said to him was, “Five years ago, when you were in a position to buy your business, you needed a tax cut then.” And what I want to do is to make sure that the plumber, the nurse, the firefighter, the teacher, the young entrepreneur who doesn’t yet have money, I want to give them a tax break now. And that requires us to make some important choices. The last point I’ll make about small businesses. Not only do 98 percent of small businesses make less than $250,000, but I also want to give them additional tax breaks, because they are the drivers of the economy. They produce the most jobs.
  • McCAIN: You know, when Sen. Obama ended up his conversation with Joe the plumber — we need to spread the wealth around. In other words, we’re going to take Joe’s money, give it to Sen. Obama, and let him spread the wealth around. I want Joe the plumber to spread that wealth around. You told him you wanted to spread the wealth around. The whole premise behind Sen. Obama’s plans are class warfare, let’s spread the wealth around. I want small businesses — and by the way, the small businesses that we’re talking about would receive an increase in their taxes right now.
  • On Taxes

  • OBAMA:So, look, nobody likes taxes. I would prefer that none of us had to pay taxes, including myself. But ultimately, we’ve got to pay for the core investments that make this economy strong and somebody’s got to do it.
  • McCAIN: Nobody likes taxes. Let’s not raise anybody’s taxes. OK?
  • OBAMA: Well, I don’t mind paying a little more.
  • McCAIN: The fact is that businesses in America today are paying the second highest tax rate of anywhere in the world. Our tax rate for business in America is 35 percent. Ireland, it’s 11 percent.
  • On the Economy

  • OBAMA: We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don’t work. And I want to go through the federal budget line by line, page by page, programs that don’t work, we should cut. Programs that we need, we should make them work better.
  • McCAIN: OK, what — what would I cut? I would have, first of all, across-the-board spending freeze, OK? Some people say that’s a hatchet. That’s a hatchet, and then I would get out a scalpel, OK? Because we’ve got — we have presided over the largest increase — we’ve got to have a new direction for this country. We have presided over the largest increase in government since the Great Society. Government spending has gone completely out of control; $10 trillion dollar debt we’re giving to our kids, a half-a-trillion dollars we owe China. I know how to save billions of dollars in defense spending. I know how to eliminate programs.
  • On President Bush

  • OBAMA: We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don’t work. And I want to go through the federal budget line by line, page by page, programs that don’t work, we should cut. Programs that we need, we should make them work better….
    So one of the things that I think we have to recognize is pursuing the same kinds of policies that we pursued over the last eight years is not going to bring down the deficit. And, frankly, Sen. McCain voted for four out of five of President Bush’s budgets. We’ve got to take this in a new direction, that’s what I propose as president.
  • McCAIN: I am not President Bush. If you want to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago. I’m going to give a new direction to this economy and this country. Sen. Obama talks about voting for budgets. He voted twice for a budget resolution that increases the taxes on individuals making $42,000 a year. Of course, we can take a hatchet and a scalpel to this budget. It’s completely out of control. The mayor of New York, Mayor Bloomberg, just imposed an across- the-board spending freeze on New York City. They’re doing it all over America because they have to. Because they have to balance their budgets. I will balance our budgets and I will get them and I will…
  • On the Negative Campaign

  • McCAIN: Well, this has been a tough campaign. It’s been a very tough campaign. And I know from my experience in many campaigns that if Senator Obama had asked — responded to my urgent request to sit down and do town-hall meetings and come before the American people, we could have done at least 10 of them by now. When Senator Obama was first asked, he said anyplace, anytime — the way Barry Goldwater and Jack Kennedy agreed to do before the intervention of the tragedy at Dallas.
    So I think the tone of this campaign could have been very different. And the fact is, it’s gotten pretty tough, and I regret some of the negative aspects of both campaigns. But the fact is that it has taken many turns which I think are unacceptable. One of them happened just the other day, when a man I admire and respect — I’ve written about him — Congressman John Lewis, an American hero — made allegations that Sarah Palin and I were somehow associated with the worst chapter in American history: segregation, deaths of children in church bombings, George Wallace. That — that, to me, was so hurtful.
    And Senator Obama, you didn’t repudiate those remarks. Every time there’s been an out-of-bounds remark made by a Republican, no matter where they are, I have repudiated them. I hope that Senator Obama will repudiate those remarks that were made by Congressman John Lewis. They’re very unfair and totally inappropriate. So I want to tell you, we will run a truthful campaign. This is a tough campaign. And it’s a matter of fact that Senator Obama has spent more money on negative ads than any political campaign in history, and I can prove it.
    And Senator Obama, when he said — and he signed a piece of paper that said he would take public financing for his campaign if I did. That was back when he was a long-shot candidate. You didn’t keep your word. And when you looked into the camera in a debate with Senator Clinton and said, “I will sit down and negotiate with John McCain about public financing before I make a decision,” you didn’t tell the American people the truth, because you didn’t. And that’s — that’s — that’s an unfortunate part. Now we have the highest spending by Senator Obama’s campaign than any time.
  • OBAMA: All right. Well, look, you know, I think that we expect presidential campaigns to be tough. I think that if you look at the record and the impressions of the American people — Bob, your network just did a poll showing that two-thirds of the American people think that Senator McCain’s running a negative campaign versus one-third of mine. And 100 percent, John, of your ads — 100 percent of them — have been negative…. A hundred — it — it absolutely is true. And — and — now, I think the American people are less interested in our hurt feelings during the course of the campaign than addressing the issues that matter to them so deeply. And there is nothing wrong with us having a vigorous debate, like we’re having tonight, about health care, about energy policy, about tax policy. That’s the stuff that campaigns should be made of. The notion, though, that because we’re not doing town-hall meetings, that justifies some of the ads that have been going up not just from your own campaign directly, John, but 527s and other organizations that make some pretty tough accusations — well, I don’t mind being attacked for the next three weeks.
  • On William Ayers, a 1960s-era radical, and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN:

  • McCAIN: Mr. Ayers, I don’t care about an old washed-up terrorist. But as Sen. Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of that relationship. We need to know the full extent of Sen. Obama’s relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.
  • OBAMA: Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of Sen. McCain’s campaign over the last two or three weeks. This has been their primary focus. So let’s get the record straight. Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago. Forty years ago, when I was 8 years old, he engaged in despicable acts with a radical domestic group. I have roundly condemned those acts. … Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House. So that’s Mr. Ayers. Now, with respect to ACORN, ACORN is a community organization. Apparently what they’ve done is they were paying people to go out and register folks, and apparently some of the people who were out there didn’t really register people, they just filled out a bunch of names. It had nothing to do with us. We were not involved.
  • On Their Running Mates’ Qualifications:

  • McCAIN: Well, Americans have gotten to know Sarah Palin. They know that she’s a role model to women and other — and reformers all over America. She’s a reformer.
  • OBAMA: On the key issues that are of importance to American families, Joe Biden’s always been on the right side, and I think he will make an outstanding president if, heaven forbid, something happened to me.
  • On whether their rival’s vice presidential picks are qualified to be president:

  • McCAIN: I think that Joe Biden is qualified in many respects. But I do point out that he’s been wrong on many foreign policy and national security issues, which is supposed to be his strength. He voted against the first Gulf War. He voted against it and, obviously, we had to take Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait or it would’ve threatened the Middle Eastern world supply. In Iraq, he had this cockamamie idea about dividing Iraq into three countries. We’re seeing Iraq united as Iraqis, tough, hard, but we’re seeing them. We’re now about to have an agreement for status of forces in Iraq coming up. There are several issues in which, frankly, Joe Biden and I open and honestly disagreed on national security policy, and he’s been wrong on a number of the major ones.
  • OBAMA: That’s going to be up to the American people. I think that, obviously, she’s a capable politician who has, I think, excited the — a base in the Republican Party. And I think it’s very commendable the work she’s done on behalf of special needs. I agree with that, John. I do want to just point out that autism, for example, or other special needs will require some additional funding, if we’re going to get serious in terms of research. That is something that every family that advocates on behalf of disabled children talk about. And if we have an across- the-board spending freeze, we’re not going to be able to do it.
  • On Late-Term Abortions

  • OBAMA: With respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there’s an exception for the mother’s health and life, and this did not contain that exception. And I attempted, as many have in the past, of including that so that it is constitutional. And that was rejected, and that’s why I voted present, because I’m willing to support a ban on late-term abortions as long as we have that exception.
  • McCAIN: Just again, the example of the eloquence of Sen. Obama. He’s … health for the mother. You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything. That’s the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, health. But, look, Cindy and I are adoptive parents. We know what a treasure and joy it is to have an adopted child in our lives. We’ll do everything we can to improve adoption in this country. But that does not mean that we will cease to protect the rights of the unborn.
  • On Education:

  • OBAMA: I do think that it is important for the federal government to step up and help local school districts do some of the things they need to do. Now we tried to do this under President Bush. He put forward No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, they left the money behind for No Child Left Behind. And local school districts end up having more of a burden, a bunch of unfunded mandates, the same kind of thing that happened with special education where we did the right thing by saying every school should provide education to kids with special needs, but we never followed through on the promise of funding, and that left local school districts very cash-strapped.
  • McCAIN: Now as far as the No Child Left Behind is concerned, it was a great first beginning in my view. It had its flaws, it had its problems, the first time we had looked at the issue of education in America from a nationwide perspective. And we need to fix a lot of the problems. We need to sit down and reauthorize it. But, again, spending more money isn’t always the answer. I think the Head Start program is a great program. A lot of people, including me, said, ‘Look, it’s not doing what it should do.’ By the third grade many times children who were in the Head Start program aren’t any better off than the others. Let’s reform it. Let’s reform it and fund it.

Senator Hillary Clinton at the debate
Senator Hillary Clinton was in the audience of the presidential debate. (Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Bloopers

Historians’ Comments

  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian on “Getting to know the candidates”: A little bit. But I think my overwhelming feeling is that, if Barack Obama is elected president 20 days from now, his performance in all three of these debates is going to have a lot to do with the reason.
    Because, you know, you go back to John Kennedy in 1960 or Jimmy Carter in ’76, Bill Clinton in 1992, these were candidates who were not very well-known to the American people at the beginning. They were challenging people who were the candidate of the party that owned the White House.
    And they used these debates, one by one, to basically let the American people feel comfortable with them, with the idea of them as president. A lot of Americans who may have agreed with Barack Obama were nervous about him before these debates began; I think there are very few people tonight who will feel that way. – PBS Newshour, 10-15-08
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS on “Antagonism favors a cool Obama”: I think John McCain really hurt himself, because one feature of these debates is that, when a candidate really tries to go on the attack, especially in a personal way, almost always hurts himself.
    Remember when George H.W. Bush, who was a rather gentlemanly guy, out of frustration against Bill Clinton began saying, “I just don’t know about a guy who demonstrated on foreign soil against the United States, made this mysterious visit to Moscow,” it only diminished him, made him look almost desperate.
    It didn’t help Bob Dole in 1996 when he tried to do the same thing in the debates against Bill Clinton. So one of the things about not only these debates, but especially this format where you have the two of them sitting at a table, I just don’t know how a candidate can bring up things like that, that are pretty negative and antagonistic and, in a way, not hurt himself with a lot of voters. – PBS Newshour, 10-15-08
  • Gil Troy “MIA in the Debates: Obama the dreamer, McCain the Hero”: While the first debate did reassure, demonstrating that both these candidates were competent and idealistic men of character, the overall effect after three debates diminished them both. Like weary boxers in the fifteenth round, the two candidates fought each other to a draw – and at this point, the tie helps Obama the front-runner in most polls. But after weeks now of devastating economic news, with foreign policy challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and elsewhere still looming, it is legitimate to miss Obama the dreamer and McCain the hero. This campaign, more than most, requires candidates offering vision and reassurance. Still, with any luck – and in keeping with the rhythms of American politics – the buildup from Election Day to Inauguration Day will allow whoever wins to resurrect his better self as Americans rally around their new leader and turn to him to fulfill their dreams ever so heroically. – HNN, 10-15-08
  • Alan Schroeder “Debate expectations high for John McCain”: “This is one of his last opportunities to mix things up, and literally his last opportunity to confront Obama in a direct way,” said Alan Schroeder, a Northeastern University professor and presidential debate historian. “This is his chance to get his mojo back.”
    “Two debates ago, I’d have said he needs to turn up the heat,” Schroeder said. “But his low-key performance has served him well. There’s so much turmoil in the world, being a cool and unflappable customer benefits him.” – Boston Herald, 10-15-08
  • Julian E. Zelizer “The Final Throw-Down Can Obama Be Reagan Tonight?”: “It’s pretty dull, but this is how Obama closes,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “There’s no drama to his campaigning. He gets the lead and he holds it. What we saw during the primaries was his calmness, his coolness, the ability to run out the clock. And you’re seeing a very similar thing now.” – Washington Independent, 10-15-08
  • Sheri Parks “Debates drawing big TV audiences in Baltimore Large number of black households helps propel combined ratings to highest in U.S.”: “The reason, of course, is Barack Obama, who has made it possible for African-Americans to hope again,” said Sheri Parks, an associate professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, who specializes in the study of media, pop culture and African-American families. “Many African-Americans, and I am one of them, did not expect to see this in our lifetimes, an African-American who could be president, and you are not going miss any chance to see him on television.” – Baltimore Sun, 10-15-08
John and Cindy McCain with Barack and Michelle Obama after the debate ended. (Damon Winter/The New York Times)

McCain and Obama, after the debate

The Second Presidential Debate: Highlights

The Second Presidential Debate: Highlights

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: THE SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

The Second Presidential Debate between Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain, was held October 7, 2008 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Tom Brokaw moderated the town hall style debate.

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain take the stage at Tuesday’s debate in Nashville. (Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times)

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain took the stage at Tuesday's debate in Nashville

The Stats

  • CNN debate poll: Obama beats McCain – 54 percent saying Democrat Barack Obama won and 30 percent thinking Republican John McCain was the victor.
  • A CBS poll of uncommitted voters: 40 percent identified Obama as the winner; 26 percent said McCain won, while 35 percent said it was a tie.
  • CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, 10-7-08 55 percent say that Obama “cares more about people like you” than McCain
  • Ipsos/McClatchy poll, 10-7-08: Obama, the Democratic nominee, had the support of 47% of registered voters; McCain, the Republican candidate, had the support of 40%; Independent candidate Ralph Nader had 3%; Libertarian candidate Bob Barr had 1%.

In the News…

During Tuesday night’s debate, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain engaged in a town-hall setting. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

During Tuesday night's debate, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain engaged in a town-hall setting. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Candidate Soundbites

  • Full Transcript Download
  • McCAIN: It’s good to be with you at a town hall meeting.
  • On the Economy

  • OBAMA: I believe this is the final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by President (George) Bush and supported by Sen. McCain….(Those policies) essentially said that we should strip away regulations and consumer protections and let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down on all of us. It hasn’t worked out that way….You’re not interested in politicians pointing fingers. You’re interested in the impact on you.
  • McCAIN: I have a plan to fix this problem, and it’s got to do with energy independence. We’ve got to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much. And we’ve got to keep taxes low and stop the spending spree in Washington.
  • On Morgages

  • McCAIN: I would order the secretary of the Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes — at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those — be able to make those payments and stay in their homes. Is it expensive? Yes. But we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we’re never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy. And we’ve got to give some trust and confidence back to America. I know how the do that, my friends. And it’s my proposal, it’s not Sen. Obama’s proposal, it’s not President Bush’s proposal. But I know how to get America working again, restore our economy and take care of working Americans.
  • OBAMA: This is not the end of the process; this is the beginning of the process. And that’s why it’s going to be so important for us to work with homeowners to make sure that they can stay in their homes. The secretary already has the power to do that in the rescue package, but it hasn’t been exercised yet. And the next president has to make sure that the next Treasury secretary is thinking about how to strengthen you as a home buyer, you as a homeowner, and not simply think about bailing out banks on Wall Street.
  • McCAIN: But you know, one of the real catalysts, really the match that lit this fire was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I’ll bet you, you may never even have heard of them before this crisis. But you know, they’re the ones that, with the encouragement of Sen. Obama and his cronies and his friends in Washington, that went out and made all these risky loans, gave them to people that could never afford to pay back. And you know, there were some of us that stood up two years ago and said we’ve got to enact legislation to fix this. We’ve got to stop this greed and excess.
  • OBAMA: Now, I’ve got to correct a little bit of Sen. McCain’s history, not surprisingly. Let’s, first of all, understand that the biggest problem in this whole process was the deregulation of the financial system. Sen. McCain, as recently as March, bragged about the fact that he is a deregulator. On the other hand, two years ago, I said that we’ve got a sub-prime lending crisis that has to be dealt with.
  • On the National Debt

  • OBAMA: And so while it’s true that nobody’s completely innocent here, we have had, over the last eight years, the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history. And Senator McCain voted for four out of five of those George Bush budgets.
  • McCAIN: I can see why you feel that cynicism and mistrust, because the system in Washington is broken. And I have been a consistent reformer.
  • On Energy

  • OBAMA: What Sen. McCain doesn’t mention is he’s been there 26 of them. And during that time, he voted 23 times against alternative fuels, 23 times. So it’s easy to talk about this stuff during a campaign, but it’s important for us to understand that it requires a sustained effort from the next president.
  • McCAIN: It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate, loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me.
  • On Taxes

  • OBAMA: It means — and I have to, again, repeat this. It means looking (ph) at the spending side, but also at the revenue side. I mean, Sen. McCain has been talking tough about earmarks, and that’s good, but earmarks account for about $18 billion of our budget. Now, when Sen. McCain is proposing tax cuts that would give the average Fortune 500 CEO an additional $700,000 in tax cuts, that’s not sharing a burden. And so part of the problem, I think, for a lot of people who are listening here tonight is they don’t feel as if they are sharing the burden with other folks…. That’s using a hatchet to cut the federal budget while I would use a scalpel
  • McCAIN: Nailing down Senator Obama’s various tax proposals is like nailing Jell-O to the wall… I am not in favour of tax cuts for the wealthy. Let’s create jobs and let’s get our economy going again and let’s not raise taxes on anyone.
  • OBAMA: But I think it’s important to understand, we’re not going to solve Social Security and Medicare unless we understand the rest of our tax policies. And you know, Sen. McCain, I think the “Straight Talk Express” lost a wheel on that one.
  • On Health Care

  • McCAIN: He starts saying, government will do this and government will do that, and then government will, and he’ll impose mandates. If you’re a small business person and you don’t insure your employees, Sen. Obama will fine you. Will fine you. That’s remarkable. If you’re a parent and you’re struggling to get health insurance for your children, Sen. Obama will fine you. I want to give every American a $5,000 refundable tax credit. They can take it anywhere, across state lines. Why not? Don’t we go across state lines when we purchase other things in America?
  • OBAMA: If you’ve got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it. All I’m going to do is help you to lower the premiums on it. You’ll still have choice of doctor. There’s no mandate involved. Small businesses are not going to have a mandate. What we’re going to give you is a 50 percent tax credit to help provide health care for those that you need. Now, it’s true that I say that you are going to have to make sure that your child has health care. … The reason that it’s a problem to go shopping state by state, you know what insurance companies will do? They will find a state — maybe Arizona, maybe another state — where there are no requirements for you to get cancer screenings, where there are no requirements for you to have to get pre-existing conditions, and they will all set up shop there.
  • On Iraq

  • McCAIN: Sen. Obama was wrong about Iraq and the surge. He was wrong about Russia when they committed aggression against Georgia. And in his short career, he does not understand our national security challenges. We don’t have time for on-the-job training, my friends… My judgment is something that I think I have a record to stand on…. There was a lot at stake there, my friends. And I can tell you right now that Sen. Obama would have brought our troops home in defeat. I’ll bring them home with victory and with honor and that is a fundamental difference.
  • OBAMA: It’s true. There are some things I don’t understand. I don’t understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us… When Sen. McCain was cheerleading the president to go into Iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy, we’d be greeted as liberators. That was the wrong judgment, and it’s been costly to us.
  • On Pakistan

  • McCAIN: Teddy Roosevelt used to say walk softly, talk softly, but carry a big stick. Senator Obama likes to talk loudly. In fact, he said he wants to announce that he’s going to attack Pakistan. Remarkable….
    Not true. Not true. I have, obviously, supported those efforts that the United States had to go in militarily and I have opposed that I didn’t think so. I understand what it’s like to send young American’s in harm’s way. I say — I was joking with a veteran — I hate to even go into this. I was joking with an old veteran friend, who joked with me, about Iran. But the point is that I know how to handle these crises. And Sen. Obama, by saying that he would attack Pakistan, look at the context of his words. I’ll get Osama bin Laden, my friends. I’ll get him. I know how to get him.
  • OBAMA: Now, Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I’m green behind the ears and I’m just spouting off, and he’s somber and responsible…. Sen. McCain, this is the guy who sang, ‘Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,’ who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don’t think is an example of speaking softly. This is the person who, after we had — we hadn’t even finished Afghanistan, where he said, ‘Next up, Baghdad.’ So I agree that we have to speak responsibly and we have to act responsibly. And the reason Pakistan — the popular opinion of America had diminished in Pakistan was because we were supporting a dictator, (former President Pervez) Musharraf, had given him $10 billion over seven years, and he had suspended civil liberties. We were not promoting democracy. This is the kind of policies that ultimately end up undermining our ability to fight the war on terrorism, and it will change when I’m president.
  • On Russia

  • McCAIN: We’re not going to have another Cold War with Russia. … We have to make the Russians understand that there are penalties for these, this kind of behavior, this kind of naked aggression into Georgia, a tiny country and a tiny democracy. And so, of course we want to bring international pressures to bear on Russia in hopes that that will modify and eventually change their behavior. Now, the G-8 is one of those, but there are many others. But the Russians must understand that these kinds of actions and activities are not acceptable and hopefully we will use the leverage, economic, diplomatic and others united with our allies, with our allies and friends in Europe who are equally disturbed as we are about their recent behaviors.
  • OBAMA: The resurgence of Russia is one of the central issues that we’re going to have to deal with in the next presidency. And for the most part I agree with Sen. McCain on many of the steps that have to be taken. But we can’t just provide moral support. We’ve got to provide moral support to the Poles and Estonia and Latvia and all of the nations that were former Soviet satellites. But we’ve also got to provide them with financial and concrete assistance to help rebuild their economies. Georgia in particular is now on the brink of enormous economic challenges. And some say that that’s what (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin intended in the first place. The other thing we have to do, though, is we’ve got to see around the corners. We’ve got to anticipate some of these problems ahead of time.

Bloopers

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama during Tuesday night’s debate. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama during Tuesday night's debate. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

Historians’ Comments

  • Gil Troy “McCain-Obama Take 2: Six Million Questions but Neither Has Good Answers:” We all knew what would happen. This second debate between Barack Obama and John McCain was going to be a slugfest. Journalists, who seem to forget that their job is to report what actually happened not predict what might occur, had been warning about it for days – although cautioning with the kind of glee that suggested they were as hopeful as appalled.
    The overwrought warnings of mudslinging made the actual event appear all the more subdued. Unwilling to ignore the undecided voters’ earnest questions as the stock market imploded, both Obama and McCain answered the questions carefully, soberly, respectfully. Most of the tension centered around the moderator Tom Brokaw’s timekeeping frustrations, as he repeatedly chided the candidates about keeping to their agreement. Brokaw seemed to forget that a moderator’s job is to go with the flow, that the American people tuned in to hear the presidential rivals not monitor their ability to follow some artificial rules which, Brokaw repeatedly reminded the candidates, they had “signed off on.”…
    The scariest thing about hearing both candidates sling clichés about the financial crisis is to realize how clueless they are – and will remain on January 20. If two smart, talented politicians, with such a clear incentive to give a thoughtful, reassuring analysis and plan can sound so lost, it is hard to know just who will magically appear on the scene to navigate the crisis. — HNN, 10-8-08
  • Alan Brinkley “Obama Finally Flashes Some Charm”: I really don’t like “town hall meeting” debates. First, they are (in this context) populist gimmicks to test a skill that has nothing to do with being president. Second, this was not a town hall meeting at all, but a scripted event with bad questions that the candidates had no choice but to evade.
    Having said that, I was surprised at how awkward and inarticulate McCain often was in a format that he claims to especially like and that he tried to induce Obama to join frequently over the summer. McCain was not embarrassing, and he had some good moments–as well as an interesting, but probably unworkable, proposal to have the Treasury buy up bad mortgages. But his body language and demeanor were mostly terrible, while Obama seemed fluid, comfortable, and–something that has not always been the case–charming.
    The substance of the debate had no surprises and didn’t vary much from the first debate. Given that all the polls, and the subsequent momentum, gave Obama the edge after the first debate, it’s pretty surprising that McCain said almost nothing that he hadn’t said earlier. Obama had no big new ideas either, but he’s not the one who has to turn the campaign around.
    I think the big advantage Obama has coming out of the debate is that he was more likable than he usually is– and that will make it much more difficult for the attack ads and the Palin barbs to turn things around.
    I saw nothing tonight that seems likely to change the current trajectory of the campaign. And that, of course, is good news for Obama. – TNR, 10-8-08
  • Michael Beschloss Discussing the Candidates: Obama has made a parallel himself that, like [Abraham] Lincoln, he only has a few years in public life, but he [Lincoln] made a great impact. … If Obama is elected with a large Democratic Congress, it could be one of those years when you have a president during a crisis, such as our financial crisis, with both houses of Congress in his party, and he can change things in a big way. It doesn’t work that way very often, but he could end up like [Franklin D. Roosevelt].
    We tend to not give the White House to the same party for three terms in a row. The only time it’s happened in modern times was with [George H.W.] Bush after [Ronald] Reagan. If McCain wins, it could mean he has a lot of political dexterity. And to distinguish oneself from an unpopular president is difficult. Just look at Adlai Stevenson, who tried to distance himself from [Harry] Truman, or Hubert Humphrey, who tried to distance himself from Lyndon Johnson, who was very unpopular at the time because of the Vietnam War. – Florida Times-Union
  • Stephen Hess on “McCain works to drive voters from Obama”: But while “character assassination is as American as apple pie and George Washington,” according to presidential historian Stephen Hess, “McCain’s problem is he lacks real ammunition.” – AFP, 10-7-08
  • Schuyler VanValkenburg on “Democratic Libel” The Internet and modern technology have allowed vitriol to amplify and multiply but they also have allowed us to return to this more participatory, grassroots democracy. – Style Weekly, 10-8-08

The Vice Presidential Debate: Highlights

The Vice Presidential Debate: Highlights

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

The first and only vice-presidential debate was held October 2, 2008 at Washington University in St. Louis. It was moderated by Gewn Ifill of PBS, the debate covered a wide range of issues, including pressing domestic issues, such as the economy and foreign policy, including Iraq and Iran.

Debate
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Gov. Sarah Palin at the debate in St. Louis. (Photo: James Estrin/The New York Times)

The Stats

  • CBS Poll: More Uncommitted Voters Saw Biden As Winner: 46% Joe Biden, 21 Sarah Palin, 33%, tie – CBS, 10-2-08
  • Debate poll says Biden won, Palin beat expectations:
    CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll: Joe Biden won 51% to 36% Sarah Palin, 11% tie, 2% neither
    Expectations: 84% said Palin did better than expected and 7% said worse, while 64% said Biden did better than expected and 14% worse.
    Palin beats Biden on likability, 54-36
    87 percent say Biden is qualified for job, 42 percent say Palin is – CNN, 10-2-08

In the News…

Candidate Soundbites

  • Full Transcript
  • On the Economy / Bailout Bill

  • BIDEN: I think it’s neither the best or worst of Washington, but it’s evidence of the fact that the economic policies of the last eight years have been the worst economic policies we’ve ever had. As a consequence, you’ve seen what’s happened on Wall Street.
    If you need any more proof positive of how bad the economic theories have been, this excessive deregulation, the failure to oversee what was going on, letting Wall Street run wild, I don’t think you needed any more evidence than what you see now….
    Yes, well, you know, until two weeks ago — it was two Mondays ago John McCain said at 9 o’clock in the morning that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. Two weeks before that, he said George — we’ve made great economic progress under George Bush’s policies.
    Nine o’clock, the economy was strong. Eleven o’clock that same day, two Mondays ago, John McCain said that we have an economic crisis.
    That doesn’t make John McCain a bad guy, but it does point out he’s out of touch. Those folks on the sidelines knew that two months ago.
  • PALIN:….The barometer there, I think, is going to be resounding that our economy is hurting and the federal government has not provided the sound oversight that we need and that we deserve, and we need reform to that end.
    People in the Senate with him, his colleagues, didn’t want to listen to him and wouldn’t go towards that reform that was needed then. I think that the alarm has been heard, though, and there will be that greater oversight, again thanks to John McCain’s bipartisan efforts that he was so instrumental in bringing folks together over this past week, even suspending his own campaign to make sure he was putting excessive politics aside and putting the country first….
    John McCain, in referring to the fundamental of our economy being strong, he was talking to and he was talking about the American workforce. And the American workforce is the greatest in this world, with the ingenuity and the work ethic that is just entrenched in our workforce. That’s a positive. That’s encouragement. And that’s what John McCain meant.
  • On the Lending Meltdown

  • PALIN: Darn right it was the predator lenders, who tried to talk Americans into thinking that it was smart to buy a $300,000 house if we could only afford a $100,000 house. There was deception there, and there was greed and there is corruption on Wall Street. And we need to stop that…. One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let’s commit ourselves just every day American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars….
    I would like to respond about the tax increases. We can speak in agreement here that darn right we need tax relief for Americans so that jobs can be created here. Now, Barack Obama and Senator Biden also voted for the largest tax increases in U.S. history. Barack had 94 opportunities to side on the people’s side and reduce taxes and 94 times he voted to increase taxes or not support a tax reduction, 94 times….
    I’m still on the tax thing because I want to correct you on that again. And I want to let you know what I did as a mayor and as a governor. And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also….
  • BIDEN: So what you had is you had overwhelming “deregulation.” You had actually the belief that Wall Street could self-regulate itself. And while Barack Obama was talking about reinstating those regulations, John on 20 different occasions in the previous year and a half called for more deregulation. As a matter of fact, John recently wrote an article in a major magazine saying that he wants to do for the health care industry deregulate it and let the free market move like he did for the banking industry….
    The charge is absolutely not true…. Number two, using the standard that the governor uses, John McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes….John McCain said as early as last December, quote — I’m paraphrasing — “I’m surprised about this subprime mortgage crisis,” number one.
  • On Taxes and Healthcare

  • BIDEN: The middle class is struggling. The middle class under John McCain’s tax proposal, 100 million families, middle class families, households to be precise, they got not a single change, they got not a single break in taxes….
    And then you’re going to have to replace a $12,000 — that’s the average cost of the plan you get through your employer — it costs $12,000. You’re going to have to pay — replace a $12,000 plan, because 20 million of you are going to be dropped. Twenty million of you will be dropped.
    So you’re going to have to place — replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the “Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere.”
  • PALIN: Now you said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you’re not always the solution. In fact, too often you’re the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper. An increased tax formula that Barack Obama is proposing in addition to nearly a trillion dollars in new spending that he’s proposing is the backwards way of trying to grow our economy.
    …But a $5,000 health care credit through our income tax that’s budget neutral. That’s going to help. And he also wants to erase those artificial lines between states so that through competition, we can cross state lines and if there’s a better plan offered somewhere else, we would be able to purchase that. So affordability and accessibility will be the keys there with that $5,000 tax credit also being offered.
  • On Campaign Promises

  • BIDEN: The bottom line here is that we are going to, in fact, eliminate those wasteful spending that exist in the budget right now, a number of things I don’t have time, because the light is blinking, that I won’t be able to mention, but one of which is the $100 billion tax dodge that, in fact, allows people to take their post office box off- shore, avoid taxes. I call that unpatriotic. I call that unpatriotic.
  • PALIN: I want to go back to the energy plan, though, because this is — this is an important one that Barack Obama, he voted for in ’05. Senator Biden, you would remember that, in that energy plan that Obama voted for, that’s what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks. Your running mate voted for that….
    There is not. And how long have I been at this, like five weeks? So there hasn’t been a whole lot that I’ve promised, except to do what is right for the American people, put government back on the side of the American people, stop the greed and corruption on Wall Street.
    And the rescue plan has got to include that massive oversight that Americans are expecting and deserving. And I don’t believe that John McCain has made any promise that he would not be able to keep, either.
  • On Energy

  • PALIN: We’re circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign countries, some who do not like America — they certainly don’t have our best interests at heart — instead of those dollars circulating here, creating tens of thousands of jobs and allowing domestic supplies of energy to be tapped into and start flowing into these very, very hungry markets.
    Energy independence is the key to this nation’s future, to our economic future, and to our national security. So when we talk about energy plans, it’s not just about who got a tax break and who didn’t. And we’re not giving oil companies tax breaks, but it’s about a heck of a lot more than that. Energy independence is the key to America’s future….
    Yes, Senator McCain does support this. The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into…. I was surprised to hear you mention that because you had said that there isn’t anything — such a thing as clean coal. And I think you said it in a rope line, too, at one of your rallies.
  • BIDEN: Well, I think it is manmade. I think it’s clearly manmade. And, look, this probably explains the biggest fundamental difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and Joe Biden — Governor Palin and Joe Biden.
    If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. That’s the cause. That’s why the polar icecap is melting.
  • On Same Sex Marriage & Benefits

  • BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple….
    No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that.
  • PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that’s sometimes where those steps lead….But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties…
    Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.
  • On Iraq

  • PALIN: And Senator Biden, I respected you when you called him out on that. You said that his vote was political and you said it would cost lives. And Barack Obama at first said he would not do that. He turned around under political pressure and he voted against funding the troops. We do have a plan for withdrawal. We don’t need early withdrawal out of Iraq. We cannot afford to lose there or we’re going to be no better off in the war in Afghanistan either. We have got to win in Iraq….
    Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq and that is not what our troops need to hear today, that’s for sure. And it’s not what our nation needs to be able to count on. You guys opposed the surge. The surge worked. Barack Obama still can’t admit the surge works.
  • BIDEN: Gwen, with all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan. Barack Obama offered a clear plan. Shift responsibility to Iraqis over the next 16 months. Draw down our combat troops. Ironically the same plan that Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq and George Bush are now negotiating. The only odd man out here, only one left out is John McCain, number one. Number two, with regard to Barack Obama not quote funding the troops, John McCain voted the exact same way. John McCain voted against funding the troops because of an amendment he voted against had a timeline in it to draw down American troops. And John said I’m not going to fund the troops if in fact there’s a time line. Barack Obama and I agree fully and completely on one thing. You’ve got to have a time line to draw down the troops and shift responsibility to the Iraqis.
  • BIDEN: But let’s get straight who has been right and wrong…. John McCain was saying the Sunnis and Shias got along with each other without reading the history of the last 700 years. John McCain said there would be enough oil to pay for this. John McCain has been dead wrong. I love him. As my mother would say, god love him, but he’s been dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war. Barack Obama has been right. There are the facts.
  • On Iran and Pakistan

  • PALIN: An armed, nuclear armed especially Iran is so extremely dangerous to consider. They cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons period… And an issue like that taken up by a presidential candidate goes beyond naivete and goes beyond poor judgment. A statement that he made like that is downright dangerous because leaders like Ahmadinejad who would seek to acquire nuclear weapons and wipe off the face of the earth an ally like we have in Israel should not be met with without preconditions and diplomatic efforts being undertaken first.
  • BIDEN: Now, John and Governor Palin now say they’re all for — they have a passion, I think the phrase was, a passion for diplomacy and that we have to bring our friends and allies along. Our friends and allies have been saying, Gwen, “Sit down. Talk. Talk. Talk.” Our friends and allies have been saying that, five secretaries of state, three of them Republicans. And John McCain has said he would go along with an agreement, but he wouldn’t sit down. Now, how do you do that when you don’t have your administration sit down and talk with the adversary?
  • On Israel

  • PALIN: Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust, despite, again, warnings from Iran and any other country that would seek to destroy Israel, that that is what they would like to see. We will support Israel. A two-state solution, building our embassy, also, in Jerusalem, those things that we look forward to being able to accomplish, with this peace-seeking nation, and they have a track record of being able to forge these peace agreements.
  • BIDEN: Gwen, no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion.
  • PALIN: But for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there’s just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that’s where you’re going. Positive change is coming, though. Reform of government is coming. We’ll learn from the past mistakes in this administration and other administrations…. That’s what John McCain has been known for in all these years. He has been the maverick. He has ruffled feathers. But I know, Senator Biden, you have respected for them that, and I respect you for acknowledging that. But change is coming.
  • On Nuclear Weapons & Afganistan

  • PALIN: Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period…. Now, Barack Obama had said that all we’re doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause. That’s not what we’re doing there. We’re fighting terrorists, and we’re securing democracy, and we’re building schools for children there so that there is opportunity in that country, also. There will be a big difference there, and we will win in — in Afghanistan, also….
    Barack Obama was saying we need more troops there. Again, we spend in three weeks on combat missions in Iraq, more than we spent in the entire time we have been in Afghanistan. That will change in a Barack Obama administration.
  • BIDEN: Look, we have spent more money — we spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country. Let me say that again. Three weeks in Iraq; seven years, seven years or six-and-a-half years in Afghanistan. Now, that’s number one. Number two, with regard to arms control and weapons, nuclear weapons require a nuclear arms control regime. John McCain voted against a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty that every Republican has supported.
  • On Foreign Wars, etc..

  • BIDEN: With regard to Iraq, I indicated it would be a mistake to — I gave the president the power. I voted for the power because he said he needed it not to go to war but to keep the United States, the UN in line, to keep sanctions on Iraq and not let them be lifted. I, along with Dick Lugar, before we went to war, said if we were to go to war without our allies, without the kind of support we need, we’d be there for a decade and it’d cost us tens of billions of dollars. John McCain said, no, it was going to be OK.
  • PALIN: Oh, yeah, it’s so obvious I’m a Washington outsider. And someone just not used to the way you guys operate. Because here you voted for the war and now you oppose the war. You’re one who says, as so many politicians do, I was for it before I was against it or vice- versa. Americans are craving that straight talk and just want to know, hey, if you voted for it, tell us why you voted for it and it was a war resolution… .I beg to disagree with you, again, here on whether you supported Barack Obama or John McCain’s strategies. Here again, you can say what you want to say a month out before people are asked to vote on this, but we listened to the debates.
  • On Education

  • PALIN: Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education and I’m glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving. Teachers needed to be paid more. I come from a house full of school teachers. My grandma was, my dad who is in the audience today, he’s a schoolteacher, had been for many years. My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here’s a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate.
  • BIDEN: I hope we’ll get back to education because I don’t know any government program that John is supporting, not early education, more money for it. The reason No Child Left Behind was left behind, the money was left behind, we didn’t fund it.
  • On the role of the Vice-President

  • PALIN: Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.
  • BIDEN: And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there’s a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.
  • On the Candidates’ Achilles heel

  • PALIN: But it wasn’t just that experience tapped into, it was my connection to the heartland of America. Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills? About times and Todd and our marriage in our past where we didn’t have health insurance and we know what other Americans are going through as they sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how are they going to pay out-of-pocket for health care? We’ve been there also so that connection was important…. People aren’t looking for more of the same. They are looking for change. And John McCain has been the consummate maverick in the Senate over all these years…. We have got to win the wars. We have got to get our economy back on track. We have got to not allow the greed and corruption on Wall Street anymore….Change is coming. And John McCain is the leader of that reform.
  • BIDEN: You’re very kind suggesting my only Achilles Heel is my lack of discipline… Others talk about my excessive passion. I’m not going to change. I have 35 years in public office. People can judge who I am. I haven’t changed in that time…. I understand, as well as, with all due respect, the governor or anybody else, what it’s like for those people sitting around that kitchen table. And guess what? They’re looking for help. They’re looking for help. They’re not looking for more of the same….Look, the maverick — let’s talk about the maverick John McCain is. And, again, I love him. He’s been a maverick on some issues, but he has been no maverick on the things that matter to people’s lives.
  • On Bipartisanship

  • BIDEN: I have been able to reach across the aisle. I think it’s fair to say that I have almost as many friends on the Republican side of the aisle as I do the Democratic side of the aisle….
    I have been able to work across the aisle on some of the most controversial issues and change my party’s mind, as well as Republicans’, because I learned a lesson from Mike Mansfield. Mike Mansfield, a former leader of the Senate, said to me one day — he — I made a criticism of Jesse Helms. He said, “What would you do if I told you Jesse Helms and Dot Helms had adopted a child who had braces and was in real need?” I said, “I’d feel like a jerk.” He said, “Joe, understand one thing. Everyone’s sent here for a reason, because there’s something in them that their folks like. Don’t question their motive.”
  • PALIN: Now, Barack Obama, of course, he’s pretty much only voted along his party lines. In fact, 96 percent of his votes have been solely along party line, not having that proof for the American people to know that his commitment, too, is, you know, put the partisanship, put the special interests aside, and get down to getting business done for the people of America….
    You do what I did as governor, and you appoint people regardless of party affiliation, Democrats, independents, Republicans. You — you walk the walk; you don’t just talk the talk. And even in my own family, it’s a very diverse family. And we have folks of all political persuasion in there, also, so I’ve grown up just knowing that, you know, at the end of the day, as long as we’re all working together for the greater good, it’s going to be OK.
  • Changing View & Closing Remarks

  • BIDEN: And so that — that — that was one of the intellectual changes that took place in my career as I got a close look at it. And that’s why I was the first chairman of the Judiciary Committee to forthrightly state that it matters what your judicial philosophy is. The American people have a right to understand it and to know it….
    You know, in the neighborhood I grew up in, it was all about dignity and respect. A neighborhood like most of you grew up in. And in that neighborhood, it was filled with women and men, mothers and fathers who taught their children if they believed in themselves, if they were honest, if they worked hard, if they loved their country, they could accomplish anything. We believed it, and we did. That’s why Barack Obama and I are running, to re-establish that certitude in our neighborhoods. Ladies and gentlemen, my dad used to have an expression. He’d say, “champ, when you get knocked down, get up.” Well, it’s time for America to get up together. America’s ready, you’re ready, I’m ready, and Barack Obama is ready to be the next president of the United States of America.
  • PALIN: …But on the major principle things, no, there hasn’t been something that I’ve had to compromise on, because we’ve always seemed to find a way to work together. Up there in Alaska, what we have done is, with bipartisan efforts, is work together and, again, not caring who gets the credit for what, as we accomplish things up there….
    I want to assure you that John McCain and I, we’re going to fight for America. We’re going to fight for the middle-class, average, everyday American family like mine. I’ve been there. I know what the hurts are. I know what the challenges are. And, thank God, I know what the joys are, too, of living in America. We are so blessed. And I’ve always been proud to be an American. And so has John McCain. We have to fight for our freedoms, also, economic and our national security freedoms. It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free. We will fight for it, and there is only one man in this race who has really ever fought for you, and that’s Senator John McCain.

Debate

Gov. Sarah Palin and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke as their families gathered on stage after the vice-presidential debate. (Photo: James Estrin/The New York Times)

Historians’ Comments

  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: Well, I think in one way, and that is, you know, we saw Adlai Stevenson distance himself from the unpopular Harry Truman in ’52. And Hubert Humphrey tried to do that with LBJ in 1968. But Sarah Palin put both of them in the shade tonight. She left George W. Bush way behind in the snow. You would think that there was almost no connection between them, especially because, on one of the rare occasions when Joe Biden essentially tried to say, “This is the president of your party,” and she said, “You know, Joe, you’re looking backwards. Say it ain’t so.”
    And I think the result of that was, you didn’t have a candidate who was trying to defend a lot of the Iraq war, as unpopular as it is, or even some of the president’s decisions that may have led to this economic crisis.
    And the result was that this was sort of an argument by her relentless that was not too different from a lot of the Republican presidential campaigns all the way back to ’72. “The Democrats will give you high taxes. They’re too weak.”
    I thought that she went almost over the line in saying that Biden and Obama, if elected, would raise the white flag of surrender. I think that was really not of the stature of a potential vice president….
    Well, and both of them were probably helped by the rules, the McCain side that was worried that Sarah Palin, if you had longer answers and, as you know better than anyone, Jim, these were rules that were different from the ones that you operated under last week, much more clipped answers, much less sort of interaction between the two candidates.
    And so there was not a gaffe on either side. And I think both sides were relieved.
    But I didn’t think that they really looked equal tonight. I think she got through without saying something that would damage her in the way that some of these interviews that she’s done with Katie Couric and others have done during the last week.
    But I think Biden gave the sense of someone who’s a little bit more human, a lot more willing to confess human error. His was sort of, “You know, here I am, warts and all.” I think that’s appealing in a public figure. – PBS Newshour, 10-2-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University: Sure. Well, I agree with David. I think, in a sense, that she obviously surpassed expectations if you thought that Tina Fey basically had set, you know, the threshold.
    I think the biggest change that will probably occur as a result of this evening, I think you will hear those voices on the right, particularly conservative intellectuals, who have been calling publicly for her to get off the ticket, I think that will go away. There is no doubt that Sarah Palin’s name will be on the ballot on November 4th.
    Beyond that, I have to tell you, you know, we’re all understandably spending a lot of time talking about Governor Palin. Joe Biden had a difficult job, in some ways, going into this. Remember Vice President Bush 20 years ago with Geraldine Ferraro.
    Remember going into this debate, everyone was speculating about, would he be condescending? Would he talk down to her? Would he make her a sympathetic figure by, you know, inadvertently? Would he be too long-winded? Would he make gaffes?
    And the fact is, I think he turned in a solid performance this evening. So, on balance, I’m not sure this is really a game-changer. – PBS Newshour, 10-2-08
  • ELLEN FITZPATRICK, University of New Hampshire: Well, I think it may have been; it may not have been. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.
    But what’s fascinating to me was that, in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro was asked how she could be commander-in-chief during the vice presidential debate when she had no military experience.
    And, furthermore, wouldn’t it be likely that the Soviets might take advantage of her, were we to have a woman president or vice president? Wouldn’t this somehow weaken the powers of the office to have a woman holding it?
    And she answered in a very straightforward way. And throughout that entire debate, she never made reference, really, to her gender.
    Tonight, we heard a debate being waged here in which Governor Palin repeatedly referred to being a mom, to soccer games, to parents, to third-graders, to hockey moms, and to her own children, to her family.
    And in that 25-year period almost that has gone by, it’s an enormous sea change, it seems to me, in the politics of gender. I would wager that, if Geraldine Ferraro had said these things in 1984, that she would have been criticized for calling attention to her role as a mother and relying on that as a kind of expertise.
    Tonight, I thought Governor Palin raised these issues repeatedly as qualifying her in some special way for the office that she aspires to hold.
    …I found it a little bit folksy for my taste, but the voters, of course, will decide. I thought that what we were hearing was a kind of populism in which the implication was that complex problems are not very complex and that common sense is really a qualification that she holds, like many other Americans, that will help solve the problems the nation faces. – PBS Newshour, 10-2-08
  • DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN (presidential historian)From October 2 broadcast of PBS’ Charlie Rose: I didn’t really see any gaffes, nor were there many Tina Fey moments, or what might come on Saturday Night Live. The only one might be when she asked what might trigger a nuclear war, and she went into, “A nuclear war, that’s the be-all and the end-all. That’s bad. A lot of people, gone.” I can see them using that as a moment, but other than that, no, they both handled everything pretty well…. Oh, and there was McKiernan versus McClellan, the name of the general in Afghanistan. – Nedia Matters, 10-2-08
  • Douglas Brinkley “Presidential historian discusses vice presidential debate”: “What she’s good at is about Alaska politics, gas and oil issues, energy issues, and now national issues, so you don’t want to minimize that,” says Brinkley. “But clearly she’s somebody who is not a global thinker in a time of a global economy and a time of a global war on terror, and she has to prove… in this debate tonight that she is a quick study, that she’s got good judgment.” – CbS News7, 10-2-08
  • Allan Lichtman on “At High-Stakes Debate, VP Candidates Face Unique Challenges”: “She has really got to show that she has an understanding of the economy and an understanding of the world,” American University professor Allan Lichtman said. “She should be herself, she shouldn’t hold back (against Biden), but she has got to show that she has substance there.”… “He can’t appear to be overbearing and bullying, but he can be tough,” Lichtman said. “He cannot emit one of his famous gaffes,” Lichtman said. – Fox News, 10-2-08
  • Douglas Brinkley on “At High-Stakes Debate, VP Candidates Face Unique Challenges”: “Let her be a voice of something different,” historian Douglas Brinkley said. “‘I may not have been in Washington, I don’t have the world experience, but my judgment’s good and my heart’s in the right place’.” – Fox News, 10-2-08
  • Peter Kastor on “US braces for VP debate as Palin’s star wanes”: “It’s make-or-break for her in the sense that, in a three-game series, her record so far is one and one: the convention and the interviews,” said Peter Kastor, Washington University history professor, “This could be what seals the deal. If she does extremely well or extremely poorly, obviously it will be the debate that people say defines Sarah Palin’s candidacy.” Washington University history professor Peter Kastor told AFP. – AFP, Time (UK), 10-2-08
  • Julian Zelizer – DEMOCRATS SHOULD IGNORE THE PALIN-BIDEN DEBATE: “Everyone will be watching the Biden-Palin vice presidential debate. This is an eagerly awaited event, with predictions that Americans will tune in high numbers to see whether Palin can handle the tough questions and if Biden puts his foot in his mouth, once again. Democrats need to be very careful. When Senator McCain introduced Governor Palin as his running mate, Republicans completely knocked Democrats off their message. The Democratic Party had just come off a very strong convention and a historic speech by Senator Barack Obama. Yet the introduction of Palin created a media frenzy around her, distracting reporters from the main contest, and giving Republicans a chance to regroup and to rebound in the polls…..
    ….Tonight’s debate, in certain respects, comes at perfect time for Republicans. Whatever happens, Americans will be watching Palin not Obama. Democrats should stay focused on the themes from this week, rather than encourage reporters to spend the next week talking about the gaffes or intelligence of Palin. In the end, this is a contest between McCain and Obama, and about Bush’s record over the last eight years. When Republicans shift to other issues, they do better. When forced to confront the main issues, they have struggled. – Huffington Post, 10-2-08
  • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich – Uneasy Twins: “For the past few weeks the nation has been engaged in a truly bizarre debate over who is better qualified for the presidency — Barack Obama or Sarah Palin. It doesn’t matter that he is a candidate for president, she for vice president. Or that he won his party’s nomination through a hard-fought primary that energized millions of new voters and raised America’s standing abroad. Suddenly, in the first weeks of September, he was last year’s celebrity, she the new star. Plucked from obscurity in Alaska, she was the new Obama even though no one outside her home state had ever checked her name on a ballot. Black man. White woman. The only possible basis for comparison is that neither Barack Obama nor Sarah Palin is a white male….” – Huffington Post, 10-2-08
  • Great Moments In Veep Debate History: “Who Am I? Why Am I Here?” – The Hotline Political Network, 10-1-08
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