Alright, we’re about 3 minutes away from tonight’s Presidential debate. This one will be held in Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Tonight, I’ll again be watching CNN and the focus group will be undecided voters in Ohio (this time it’ll be broken up by men and women). Tonight’s moderator will be NBC’s Tom Brokaw.
Alright, we’re now starting.
Allen Shaffer: “What’s the fastest solution to bail out” citizens, from economic turmoil?
Obama: We’re in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and many of you are worried. This is the final burden on the failed economic policies of the last 8 years. McCain agreed with Bush, and stripped regulations, and now we’re paying for it. Step 1: Make sure last week’s rescue package succeeds. Come on Obama, it won’t – the package sucked! The focus group is liking this. Step 2: Tax cuts for citizens. Help people stay in their homes. Help states create jobs. Health care. Have politicians thinking about middle class. Women really loved him, and men were pretty high up there too.
McCain: Americans are angry and upset and fearful. I have a plan to fix this problem: energy independence. Don’t send money to countries who don’t like us. “Let’s not raise taxes on anybody–today.” What was that – what was that “today” – that sounded bad. “We’re gonna have to do something about home values.” People can’t afford mortgage payments (well, that’s mainly their fault). Have government buy up bad mortgages so people can pay them off – come on McCain – that plan sucks. People had been liking him a lot there (more men than women), but it dropped down a bit toward the end.
Brokaw: Who would you appoint to Treasury Secretary?
McCain: Not you Tom.
Brokaw: With good reason.
McCain: Somebody who people can connect with. Meg Whitman – CEO of some company – oh – Ebay.
Obama: Warren Buffett would be a good person, but there are others as well. McCain said, “The fundamentals of the economy are sound.” That’s because they are. The principles of our economy, and the American work ethic is sound.
Oliver Clark: How will the bailout bill help people?
McCain: “You described bailout, I believe it’s rescue.” I left my campaign to go back to Washington to make sure that there were protections for the taxpayer – oversight and a way to pay back taxpayers. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are what lit this thing on fire, and many hadn’t heard of them before this crisis. Democrats in Congress defended what Fannie and Freddie did while they got money from the two. Obamagot the second highest amount of money from Fannie and Freddie. Fannie and Freddie started this forest fire. And he’s not doing to well with the focus group during that, although it came up toward the end.
Obama: Right now, the credit markets are frozen, so small businesses can’t get loans, and can’t make payroll, so they may have to lay people off. “That’s why we had to take action.” The biggest problem in this whole thing was the deregulation of the financial system. I argued for more regulation, but nothing happened. I never promotedFannie, but McCain’s somebody on his campaign–was something with Fannie Mae (I didn’t catch the whole statement). The President has to make sure that the homeowners are protected. He got pretty good ratings there.
Brokaw: Are you saying it’ll get worse before it gets better?
Obama: No, I am confident in the American economy. Isn’t that what McCain said when he said the fundamentals are strong? HYPOCRITE! He got great ratings there.
McCain: It depends on what we do. If we stabilize it and buy up bad loans, and get rid of special interests in Washington, we can fix our economy. Our workers are the best in the world. They’re the fundamental aspect of our economy. “We gotta give them a chance to do their best. … They’re the innocent bystanders of” this crisis.
Teresa Finch: “How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?”
Obama: I understand your crisis and cynicism. “You’re right, there is a lot of blame to go around. … But remember, when George Bush came into office, we had a surplus … now we have a deficit.” We’ve almost doubled our deficit. Nobody is completely innocent. I’m going to spend money on key issues that we have to work on, health care and energy. Ratings are really high here. Invest in college affordability. “I’m cutting more than I’m spending.” And men just plummeted in their ratings there. And what exactly is he planning on cutting?
McCain: “The system in Washington is broken.” I’ve been a reformer and crossed the aisle, working with Senator Feingold on campaign finance reform. “The situation today cries out for bipartisanship. … Let’s look at our records as well as our rhetoric.” Obama is proposing 860 billion dollars of new spending, and voted for every increase of spending that came across the floor. He voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel spending, including a projector for a planetarium in Illinois. We need to get Americans working again, and get more jobs for Americans. We need nuclear power. We need to stop depending on foreign oil. Ratings were pretty bad there, but came up at the end. McCain was right – Obama’s earmarks are just atrocious.
Brokaw: Health care, energy, and entitlement reform – order of priorities?
McCain: Do all 3 at once. We won’t be able to provide same benefits for future retirees as we are able to today. I’ve worked across the aisle. We can work on nuclear power plants, create new jobs. We need alternative fuels, wind, tide, solar, natural gas, clean coal. Health care – everyone is struggling to make sure they can afford their premiums. We can do these all at once, and we have to do them all at once.
Obama: Your list of priorities. Energy, we have to deal with today. Gas is expensive, and it may go up. Some countries like Russia, Venezuela, and Iran are gaining from high oil prices. In 10 years, we need to be free of foreign oil. Just like Kennedy said we can go to the moon in 10 years, this can be done. That was a great analogy! I missed what he just said. I want to go line-by-line and eliminate programs in the federal government, and eliminate programs that don’t work, and make others cheaper. Women are rating him really high now. Money given to big oil companies, which McCain wants, takes money out of the system. Don’t mislead, Obama, he wants to give tax cuts to ALL companies, but that doesn’t exclude oil companies.
Brokaw: What are you gonna ask Americans to sacrifice to get out of the depression?
McCain: Talking about defense contracts that were done corruptly. Get rid of earmarks, and some of those are “good” projects, but they have to be eliminated still. Except for Defense, Veterans Affairs, and other crucial programs, we will have to have a spending freeze. Keep everything transparent. Don’t allow for the government to hide earmarks.
Obama: After September 11, everybody came together, and President Bush did some smart things at the outset. We need leadership to focus on problems inside and outside of government. We need to think about how we use energy – we need to tell oil companies to start drilling and invest in clean coal technology. We need to think of ways that we can conserve energy, and provide incentives to buy American cars that are fuel efficient. The young people of America want to serve, and we need to increase the Peace Corps. Ratings were really high there, especially among women.
Brokaw: President Bush last summer said Wall Street got drunk. Now many think that both Washington and consumers also got drunk. How do you get people to reduce easy credit and overspending?
Obama: We have to cut spending and increase revenue. There are $18 billion in earmarks, but McCain wants to give tax cuts to CEOs, and that’s not sharing the burden. Actually, it IS sharing the burden – it’s sharing it equally. All of us need to contribute and make sacrifices. We don’t need an across-the-board freeze. That way, we only help those who need it.
McCain: Obama wants to raise taxes. The last President who raised taxes during hard times was Herbert Hoover. We’ve lost 700,000 jobs in America, but300,000 jobs have been created by small businesses. Obama’s tax increases will increase taxes on over 50% of small businesses, meaning that jobs will have to be cut. Obama said he’d fore go his tax increases if the economy was bad. The economy is bad. I don’t want to increase tax cuts. I want to leave tax cuts alone, but give tax credits to people, and give credits for health care. Let’s get our economy going again.
Obama just tried to keep going and Brokaw shut him up! YEAH!
Brokaw: Would you tell Congress to do something about Social Security and Medicare within 2 years?
Obama: We won’t solve Social Security and Medicare without solving tax problems. I want to provide a tax cut for 95% of Americans. THAT’S A LIE! ONLY 90% of Americans even make enough money to PAY taxes! We provide a 50% tax credit to small businesses to buy healthcare. And the ratings are really high here, again, especially with women. McCain wants to give tax cuts to large corporations and the rest going to CEOs. “That is not fair, and it doesn’t work.” If we reverse the policies of the last 8 years, then we can deal with Social Security and Medicare, because we’ll have a health care plan that works for you.
McCain: “Hey, I’ll answer the question.” It’s not that tough to fix social security – we have to sit down and fix this together. Reagan and Tip O’Neill sat down and worked together. Have a commission come together withrecommendations. Then have Congress vote up or down, and not fool with it. Obama has voted to increase taxes and voted against tax cuts. I have fought to reform government. “We’ll get our economy going again, and our best days are ahead of us.”
Ingrid Jackson: Congress moved pretty fast with the economic crisis. How would you make sure they move fast with environmental issues?
McCain: “When we have an issue that we may hand our children a damaged planet–I have disagreed strongly with the Bush Administration.” We brought this issue to the Senate. We need nuclear power. Nuclear power is safe and clean, and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. My liberal roommate’s getting mad that the focus group doesn’t like this: “These voters suck.” And the ratings went up a bit at the end there.
Obama: “It is absolutely critical.” We need to create a new energy economy. We need to understand that this is a national security issue. I favor nuclear power as one component. OK, the focus group does suck. They’re now rating him high, and he’s saying basically what McCain said. The focus group seems kinda biased. McCain’s problem withenergy is that he hasn’t done anything with alternative fuels. It’s easy to talk about this stuff, but McCain hasn’t done anything. McCain talks about drilling, and that’s important, but there’s not enough here at home to “drill our way out of the problem.”
Brokaw: Do we need a Manhattan-like project to deal with the energy crisis?
McCain: We need government involvement initially, and then once it’s started, release it to the private sector. Obama (this is where he said “that one”) voted for a bill that Bush/Cheney backed with lots of money for oil companies, and I voted against it.
Lindsey Trella: Health care has become a profitable industry. Should health care be treated as a commodity?
Obama: Health care is a very important issue. Premiums have doubled over the last 8 years, and co-pays have increased as well. We have a moral and economic imperative to do something about this. Here’s what I would do: you can keep your plan if you like it, and we’ll work with your employer to lower your premiums. We’ll work on making forms electronic, instead of on paper. You’ll be able to have the same health care plan that Congress gets. McCain has a different approach. He’ll give you a $5,000 tax credit, but then tax your employer health care benefits. He’ll then take out regulations that states have that make sure that you get certain things covered under your insurance.
McCain: You’ve identified one of the major challenges that America faces (directed to the audience member). We need to impose efficiencies. There’s a fundamental difference between me and Obama. Obama will pose mandates. If you’re a small business owner or parent, and you can’t afford health care for your employees or children, Obama will fine you. How does that help the situation? He’s ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! How will that help you if you can’t afford health care already? 95% of Americans will have increased funds to get health care under my plan, except the really rich people.
Brokaw: Is health care a privilege, right, or responsibility?
McCain: Responsibility. The government shouldn’t mandate that health care must be provided to all. There shouldn’t be fines for these companies or parents, and Obama hasn’t said how much the fine is yet.
Obama: Right, for every American. Talking about his mother dying at 53, and arguing with insurance companies. He’s really rating high right now. If you have a plan that you like, you can keep it, I’ll just help lower the premium. Small businesses won’t have a mandate, they’ll get a 50% tax credit. We don’t want kids going to ERs for treatable illnesses like asthma. McCain voted against (something dealing with children and health care). Crack down on insurance companies cheating their companies. The problem with going across state lines is that companies will go to states that have laxed laws and cheat their customers, like banks do in Delaware. DID HE JUST USE HIS RUNNING MATE’S STATE AS A BAD EXAMPLE!!!
Phil Elliot: How will our economic distress affect our position in the standing of the world militarily?
McCain: Much of the criticism of our foreign policy is justified. We are peace makers and keepers. We need to know when to go in and when not. That question can only be answered by someone who understands these things. We need to prevent the spread of genocide. He’s rating really high here. My opposition to sending Marines to Lebanon, and my stance on Bosnia, Russia, and others show that I understand these things. Obama has been on the wrong side of some of these issues.
Obama: I don’t understand how we invaded Iraq when bin Laden is still free. McCain said that Iraq would be quick and easy. We’re spending money in Iraq when Iraq has a surplus. We need that money more than them, and they have a surplus. We are the greatest nation in the world, but we can’t maintain our military superiority if our economy continues to decline. He is right about that. We need to fundamentally change our foreign policy.
Brokaw: Let’s establish doctrines for using force when national security isn’t at stake, but in humanitarian issues?
Obama: Would’ve stopped Rwanda and the Holocaust. When we stand idly by as genocide occurs, that diminishes us. We should intervene when possible, but we can’t be everywhere all the time. We need to work in concert with our allies, such as in Darfur. We need to lead the international community.
McCain: If we had withdrawn from Iraq when Obama wanted to, it would have been a travesty. Genocide is terrible, and we never want it to happen again. We need a person who understands the limits of our capabilities. We went into Somalia being peace makers, but had to withdraw in humiliation. I stood up against Reagan with Lebanon. We have to be able to beneficially affect the situation, realizing that we’re sending Americans into harm’s way. I won’t make these decisions lightly. We can’t have another Holocaust or Rwanda, but we can’t make the situation worse.
Katie Hamm: Should we respect Pakistani sovereignty and allow terrorists to stay there or invade like we did with Cambodia during Vietnam?
Obama: We got distracted from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, and went to Iraq. They’re now stronger now than any time since 2001. They’re plotting to kill Americans right now. We need to end the war in Iraq, put troops into Afghanistan, eliminate drug trafficking, and change policies with Pakistan. We need to encourage democracy, and if we have bin Laden in our sights, and Pakistan won’t or can’t take him out, we will take him out. That’s our number 1 national security priority.
McCain: Obamawants to announce when we’re going to attack Pakistan. It’ll turn public opinion against us. We drove Russians out of Afghanistan with Afghani freedom fighters, and that led to bin Laden coming to power. General Petraeushad a strategy of getting the support of the Pakistani people, and working with them to get Al Qaeda. Don’t threaten to attack them, but talk with them.
Obama: Nobody called for the invasion of Pakistan, but to strike inside of Pakistan if bin Laden is available to be taken out. And I agree with Obama here on this one. McCain IS twisting his words, and not taking bin Laden out when Clinton happened is one of the things that led to September 11th. Pakistan was not promoting democracy, and it undermined our fight on the war on terrorism.
McCain: I have supported efforts that the U.S. had to go in militarily, but opposed it when it wasn’t necessary. I was joking with a veteran about Iran (Obama used McCains “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” quote). I will act responsibly as I have through my military career.
Brokaw: In Afghanistan, the senior British Commander has said that we’re failing in Afghanistan. The Afghans need to take over. We need an acceptable dictator. What’s your opinion?
Obama: We need to withdraw from Iraq responsibly, and make the Iraqis take control so that we can put more troops into Afghanistan.
McCain: The same overall strategies between Afghansitan and Iraq are the same. We need more troops, like Obama is saying. Obama still won’t admit that the surge worked, and that’s the same strategy that we will need in Afghanistan. Once they feel secure, they can lead normal lives, the same thing that’s happening in Iraq today. And he’s absolutely right here.
Brokaw: How can we get Russia to behave better without starting another Cold War?
McCain: We won’t have another Cold War. I warned about Vladimir Putin a long time ago – I saw a “K,” a “G,” and a “B.” He was wrong with Georgia. Ukraine is in Russia’s sights now (it’s in the sights of the Somalians too – that whole pirate thing is just weird). We need to talk, such as in the G8 summits. Russia must realize that this is not acceptable, and we need economic and diplomatic means to show that that this is not acceptable. Really high ratings there, and he’s absolutely right.
Obama: Russia will be an issue that we’ll have to deal within the next 4 years. I agree with Senator McCain on most of that. We can’t just have diplomacy. We need to support, financially, former U.S.S.R. countries, such as Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, etc. Georgia is suffering, and that’s probably what Putin wanted to happen. Russia was trying to obtain territories, and this is unacceptable. We need to be proactive, not reactive. He is right here - we have to be a step or 2 ahead of Russia. Energy will be key in dealing with Russia, that’s one of the things that happened in Georgia’s situation.
Brokaw: Is Russia under Putin an evil empire?
Obama: No, but their actions are sometimes.
McCain: If I say yes, it reignites the Cold War. If I say no, it seems like I’m ignoring it. Energy is a key issue. My liberal roommate just said that both want to say yes, but it’d be political suicide to do so.
Terry Shirey: If McCain attacks Israel, would you send troops or wait for UN Security Council approval?
McCain: We wouldn’t wait, because Russia and China would pose obstacles to sending troops. Iran with nukes is a threat to the stability of the Middle East – other countries would acquire nukes. Obama would meet with them without preconditions. I would impose tough sanctions, and we can abridge their behavior, and hopefully they’ll abandon this quest for nukes. We can never allow a second Holocaust to take place.
Obama: We cannot a nuclear Iran. “It would be a game changer in the region.” It would threaten Israel – one of our strongest allies. As well, it would lead to nukes in the hands of terrorists. I will never take military action off the table. If we can work more effectively with more other countries to tighten sanctions, we should. He’s getting rated higher, but said the same things as McCain – the focus group is biased folks. Neither of them answered the question about if Iran ATTACKED Israel. When we stopped talkingwith Iran, their nuclear pursuance increased, as did North Korea’s when we stopped talking.
Brokaw: What don’t you know, and how will you learn it?
Obama: It’s the challenges that we don’t expect that consume most of our time. I wouldn’t be standing here if my country hadn’t given me great opportunity. The question in this election is will we pass on this same American dream? That dream has diminished – people are losing health care and going bankrupt. Kids can’t afford college. We can’t keep doing the same for the next 8 years. We need fundamental change. Really good ratings there!
McCain: I think what I don’t know is what’s gonna happen both here at home and overseas. What I don’t know is what the expected will be. I know what it’s like in dark times. I know what it’s like to fight and hope through dark times. “I know what it’s like to have your comrades and neighbors reach out to you and put you back in the fight. That’s what America’s all about.” It’s been my privilege to serve this country, and I’m asking for an opportunity to serve you more. I’ve always put my country first. Good ratings at the end, but not as good as Obama’s.
Brokaw, thank you… “You’re in the way of my script.” Thank you, and goodnight from Nashville.
Alright, overall, I thnk that both candidates performed pretty poorly. Overall, I can’t really pick a winner. I hate doing this again, like I did after the last debate, but I’m going to have to call this one a tie. McCain wasn’t as strong on foreign policy as he could’ve been (and that’s his strong point). On economic issues, he had some good plans but he didn’t seem to appeal to the average Joe citizens. The media has been commenting on McCain calling Obama “That one” when he was talking about Obama voting for money given to oil companies (and I’ve put it in italics in the text above). Apparently it caught some people as awkward. The consensus on CNN was that it was intended as “that one” versus “this one” (meaning “me” from McCain’s stand point). Sure it was maybe bad wording, but I don’t think it was anything to get worked up about (and again, my liberal roommate agrees here). Look, politicians use poor choices of words all the time. I’m not saying McCain should’ve said it, but it’s nothing that people need to complain about.
Also, Obama seemed to get a little overconfident at the end, and he was stuttery at times.
Both candidates wanted to violate the rules of the debate, and just keep talking. I think Brokaw needed to do a better job of moderating. Instead of just saying, “You didn’t stop when the red light turned on,” he should’ve said, “Your time is up.”
At some points, some of McCain’s humor was just sucky (kinda like my fathers at times – he’ll tell these lame jokes when he’s doing announcements at church that he’s got this reputation, and people just kinda laugh to humor him, and the fact that he’s tried to tell a joke becomes the joke – it’s not always a bad thing, but it was with McCain).
Again, I do think that this was a tie, and this was one that McCain could not afford to lose. McCain is going to need a couple small miracles to actually come back from where he’s at now. I’m not giving up hope, but it’s definitely Obama’s race to lose at this point.
CNN just released a poll – Obama gained favoribility and lost unfavorability, but McCain stayed the same on both. Overall, those polled thought Obama won (56%-30%).