It’s the showdown that almost didn’t happen. Just a few hours previous to its start, Senator John McCain decided he would participate in the first live presidential debate at the campus of the University of Mississippi. It was a moment the country had been waiting for since the two candidates celebrated their nomination at their respective conventions this summer.
Veteran newsman and moderator Jim Lehrer asked questions that showed the significance of McCain and Senator Barack Obama’s differences, especially concerning the current economic meltdown and their foreign policy agendas. Obama had a lot to say, specifically about helping the middle class get back on track and promising that 95 percent of [working] Americans would get a tax cut. McCain, on the other hand, spoke about giving tax breaks to businesses in order to increase revenue and jobs plus get government spending under control.
The candidates also espoused on what they would do as president to get the country’s economics back on track. Obama admitted that our government would have to prioritize by concentrating on cutting U.S. dependency of foreign oil, fixing our health care system and creating education opportunities for all children. While McCain wasn’t as specific in his answer, he did speak several times about the importance of winning the war in Iraq and knowing the difference between tactics and strategy, a key trait he accused Obama of not having. His experience in the Senate and as a veteran didn’t go unnoticed as he continually mentioned the need to have preconditions when meeting with foreign officials, a point that Obama perpetually disagreed.
During the debate, it was the first time many of us saw the pair go toe-to-toe, as Obama pointed out McCain’s shortcomings, linking him to the Bush regime and reminding voters that a vote for McCain means another four years of the same government. McCain did just as much to show Obama’s weaknesses by attempting to convince voters of the Democratic nominee’s shifting on the issues, especially the surge in Iraq.
Overall, the consensus with many news outlets is that the nearly two-hour showdown proved for many Democrats—and even some Republicans who may have questioned Obama’s capabilities or inexperience—that he is indeed prepared to match McCain point for point.
See where Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden stand on the issues when they duke it out Thursday, October 2, for their first vice-presidential nominee debate.