Live Blogging the Debate

October 8, 2008 | NeW Staff

The second of the three Presidential debates is tonight at 9pm.  I am watching it with friends, both Dems and Republicans.   I am live blogging it.  I am going to be looking for issues to relate specifically to young people and women.

9pm EST
Once again, the first thing that draws comments is the tie selection.  Tom Brokaw is wearing the power red tie.  Barack Obama again goes with the blue tie.  John McCain goes bold with candy stripes.

One of my friends asked about who appoints the Commission on Presidential Debates.  It is 501(c)(3) that funds the debate with private and corporate donations.

I like the townhall style.   They both look pretty comfortable up there walking around and talking to questioners directly.  Tom Brokaw reminds the debaters that they need to limit answers to one minute. 

McCain says there is a distinction between “bailout” and “rescue.”

Obama takes the first shot at McCain, saying he had to correct a little bit of history from Senator McCain, “not surprisingly.”

Question, “How can we trust either of you with our money?”  Solid question.

Sen. McCain, “Let’s look at our record as well as our rhetoric.”

Sen. McCain leans really close to one of the audience member.  They both seem to be getting close to the audience.

Question:  What sacrifices will you ask Americans to make?
McCain:  Eliminate programs that aren’t working.  Eliminate earmarks.  Spending freeze.  Priorities with full transparency. 

Obama: Refers to 9/11.  Wants us to shop.  Talks about energy.  Speaks to young people–wants to double the Peace Corp because young people want to serve.  I think this is the first time one of the candidates referred to young people.


Question: Would you give Congress a two-year timeline to reform Social Security and Medicare?  (Young people should especially pay attention to what is going to happen to Social Security.)
Obama: Says this is part of the larger issue of tax reform.  He doesn’t address them directly, but instead focuses on reforming taxes.

McCain: “I will answer the question.”  He says Social Security is, “not that tough.”  He refers to Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill.  He wants to sit down with people of both parties to fix it.

Question: Climate change.
McCain: He highlights the legislation he has introduced with Joe Lieberman.

Obama: Says this is an opportunity.  Obama corrects McCain by saying he actually does support nuclear energy.  

Brokaw reminds Obama that there are lights that tell them when their time is up.  As one of my friends said, “Brokaw is getting sassy!”

Question: Health insurance?
Obama:  If you have healthcare coverage, he will work with employers to lower the cost.  If you don’t have health insurance, he will work on providing the same coverage as the Senators get.  He distinguishes the McCain plan–charge more for employers.  He refers to mammograms and maternity coverage.

McCain:  We need to put medical records online to increase efficiency.  Fundamental difference with Obama–Obama talks about what government will do and Obama will impose mandates.  McCain wants to give everyone a refundable tax credit. 

Question: Is healthcare a privilege, right or responsibility?
McCain: Responsibility.

Obama: Right.

Question: Relationship between foreign policy and economy
Obama: Says McCain was “cheerleading” President Bush’s decision to go into Iraq. 

*I am having a difficult time imagining McCain as a cheerleader….

They both highlighted that a strong economy is important to a strong foreign policy.

Question: What is the Obama doctrine for the use of force when we don’t have national security issues at stake?
Obama: Moves from discussing national security issues to moral imperatives to go in.  Mentioned the Holocaust.  Wants to work with our allies to interfere.

McCain: Says U.S. is a force of good.  He wants to temper American involvement because of the sacrifice of Americans.  He says he has been in these situations all of his life.   

Question:  Should we invade Pakistan?
Obama:  He says Afghanistan and Pakistan is the main front in the War on Terrorism.  He says this is where the war began and will end.   Wants to encourage the democracy of Pakistan and insist they go after militants. 

McCain: Says Obama is announcing he will attack Pakistan.  He wants to, “Talk softly, but carry a big stick.”

Obama clarifies–If Pakistan is unwilling to take out Bin Laden, Americans should.  My friends are debating–this sounds like invasion to many of them!

The is finally turning into a bit of debate.  They are going back and forth and correcting each other.  I find it helpful when they can each clarify their positions and correct answers.  It makes it more fun to watch!

Question: Russia?
McCain:  Russia’s behavior is out of the norm.  Wants to show moral support for Georgia and Ukraine.
Obama:  Wants to provide moral support AND financial support to help their economies.  Obama makes a good point–we need

The question I want to ask–where are we going to get the money from? 

Question: Yes or no question.  Is Russia under Putin an “evil empire”?
Obama: Avoided the question.  It depends on its behavior.
McCain: Maybe.

Question:  If Iran attacks Israel, would you use troops to attack Israel without UN approval?
McCain: Yes, we go in.  Do not await approval

*Note.  McCain shook his hand.  Let’s see if Obama tries to shake the audience member’s hand as well.

Obama: We can’t allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.  Says its important not to give the UN veto power.  Says he wants to tighten sanctions on Iran.

Question: What don’t you know and how will you learn it?
Obama: Says Michelle could give him a longer list.  He avoids the question and makes his final statement. 

McCain: What will happen at home and abroad.  Focuses on his experience and service.  Says he, “believes in this country.”  Says we need a steady hand at the tiller.  A tiller is a boating term. 

Brokaw: The candidates were in the way of his script.  Funny moment.

Cindy McCain is in a pretty blue skirt suit.  Michelle Obama is in red.  Very patriotic together!

Overall, it was not very exciting.  They rehashed a lot of the same issues.  I don’t think there were any big mistakes by the candidates.  This probably didn’t change many voters.  A lot of discussion about the economy and foreign policy again.    They didn’t speak too much directly to young people or to women, so I didn’t get to evaluate their answers as much as I hoped.  I thought Obama would bring up equal pay, but he didn’t.

An Obama ad just ran, “Change is more than a slogan.”  But this seems to be a slogan too…

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