The gloves were off and, quite frankly, it’s about time. Last night, Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain and Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama had their second debate at Belmont University in Nashville. The more relaxed, “town hall" style of give-and-take was moderated by veteran newsman Tom Brokaw, who oftentimes seemed to lose control of the event. Brokaw reminded the candidates to adhere to the rules and keep their answers within the limited time constraints, but was largely ignored.
Overall, McCain and Obama once again addressed the American public about the issues that matter to us most, namely the economy, oil independence, foreign policy and health care. Questions came from audience members and submissions via Internet. Oliver Clark, the only African-American man to ask a question, wanted to know from both of the candidates how the bailout package will actually help Americans. McCain is confident that he can fix our economy and plans to do so by weeding out exorbitant government spending. While Obama was more specific, saying he would start by working with homeowners, finding ways to keep people in their homes, and provide tax credits for 95 percent of working Americans.
Understanding the cynicism that most middle-class Americans have about the economy, McCain pushed his agenda to curb government spending, participate in offshore drilling, create a bevy of jobs by investing in nuclear power, provide a $5,000 credit for health care, and allow Americans to cross state lines in their choice of providers. As far as foreign policy, especially as it concerns the war in Iraq, and relations with Pakistan, Russia and Afghanistan, McCain was softer than one might expect for a war hero. He believes in winning the war in Iraq by any means, but was cushy on how he plans to handle the growing terrorist cells in Afghanistan by way of Pakistan. When Brokaw asked if he thought of Russia as an “evil” nation, he answered, maybe.
Obama was also focused on issues concerning the economy, more specifically on how we use energy resources around the globe. He proposes that the United States will be oil-independent in ten years, and that nuclear energy is just one of many new means of alternative energy production he plans to facilitate. If you have a health care provider that you like, Obama wants you to keep it and will offer small businesses incentives to provide health insurance to their employees. Obama talked up his agenda to tackle ethnic cleansing and genocide in foreign nations, but was clearly adamant about spreading our defensive wealth to provide American troops with whatever is needed to kill Osama bin Laden.
There were a few jabs here and there. McCain referencing Obama as “that one” when talking about his voting record, telling the audience that there isn’t time for “on-the-job training,” and then the visible lack of a handshake at the end of the debate are sure to be analyzed by pundits. McCain also made some attempts at humor, which, by all means, fell flat. Ultimately, Obama played it cool as usual, never taking the low road but always holding strong against McCain’s years of experience. He was the clear winner tonight, but what will happen in less than a month still remains to be seen.