**My apologies for any typos – I tried to catch all of them, but live blogging a debate is hard, and my keyboard acts up from time to time (especially the space bar), so if you see a typo, just leave a comment and I’ll fix it.**
We’re about a minute out, I’ll be live blogging the whole event. Jim Lehrer (PBS) is the moderator. I’ll be watching CNN (it would be FOX, but they weren’t ready on time).
The Ku Klux Klan is in the audience, we’ve heard, but not in robes and not protesting.
First question, “Where do you stand on the financial recovery plan?”
Obama: Thank you to everybody – the usual beginning. “Worst financial crisis since the great depression. … We have to move swiftly and we have to move wisely.” Talking about oversight, since it’s a lot of money. Taxpayers need to be able to get the money back. Shouldn’t be padding CEO bank accounts. Talking about trickle down economics not working. That’s not going to help him win over any Republicans.
McCain: Senator Kennedy is in the hospital. Thank you to the sponsors, etc. Talking about seeing Democrats and Republicans sitting down and working together, and the magnitude of the crisis. Emphasizing that we have to work together, something that Obama didn’t mention – that was good from McCain. Talking about having options for loans for businesses, not the government taking over those loans. GOOD – not a pure bailout! CNN has an audience reaction, and McCain is getting a pretty good response from the Independents (must be some keypad rating system or something). Talking about a lot of work to do if this will work. Eliminate dependence on foreign oil – good.
Lehrer: Do you favor this plan?
Obama: I “haven’t seen the language yet.” “How did we get in this situation in the first place?” Talking about him warning 2 years ago that mortgage abuse would lead us down a trail we can’t afford to go down. “Yes, we have to solve this problem short term, … but … look at how we shredded so many regulations … and that has … to do with an economic philosophy that says regulation is bad.”
Lehrer: “Will you vote for the plan?”
McCain: “Sure.” Talking about warning about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Talking about getting flack for calling for resignation of Securities and Exchange Commission. And the Independents’ rating has skyrocketed. Republicans increased too. It was good – him calling for the resignation, and people like that.
Obama: Talking about people struggling before this crisis. It’s interesting – the Dems are rating Obama higher than the Indies, but the Indies rated McCain higher than the Reps. Talking about holding ourselves accountable, all the time, talking about nurses and teachers, and politicians not paying attention to them. Good – he’s appealing to the average Americans here, and that’s who he needs to win over.
McCain: “We have a long way to go.” Need consolidation of regulatory agencies who failed and let us slip into this crisis. Talking about the greatness of the American worker, and the Republicans like it, but it’s not that appealing to Independents, but it will appeal to a lot of average Joe Americans, as long as they believe he’s sincere (and the audience must not have).
Lehrer: How do we get out of the crisis?
McCain: Spending control. And the Reps and Inds, liked it – and this is one of McCain biggest points, and now he’s talking about Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a huge anti-earmark politician. Talking about the DNA testing of bears. I LOVE McCain saying he’ll veto earmarked bills. It’s one of his best stances. He’s talking about Obama asking for earmark spending. Talking about not being able to rein in spending with a plan like Obama’s.
Obama: The earmark process has been abused. Lobbyists and special interests introduce these things, often times. Contrasting the cost of earmarks against tax cuts (by allegedly McCain) for CEOs and big companies. “Grow the economy for the bottom up.” Tax cut for 95% of working families. HOLD IT! Only 90% of working families even PAY taxes!!!! Come on Obama, don’t lie.
McCain: Obama suspended those earmarks after he started running for Congress. YOU TELL ‘EM MCCAIN! He’s saying that earmarks have tripled in 5 years, even though “it’s only $18 billion” (as pro-earmarkers say). He was called the Sheriff. That’s pretty sweet. As I was saying before, we need to take Coburn’s example and STOP EARMARKS!
Obama: Interrupted McCain (must be kinda less formal). Talking about priorities, and shipping, and I missed the rest. Saying he’ll keep us from spending unwisely. Earmarks alone won’t get us back on track. The Democrats are loving this, but the Independents, aren’t really liking it.
McCain: Talking about the business tax, that we pay the 2nd highest in the world, 35%. “I want to cut that business tax. I want to cut it.” “It’s a lot more than $18 billion in pork barrel spending.” And he’s right, it’s SO much more than that, and it’s hidden in so many bills. The Independents are liking this. “I want every family to have a $5,000 refundable tax credit” for healthcare. Double the dependent amount refund for children.
Obama: “Here’s what I can tell America 95% of you will get a tax cut.” LIAR. 10% don’t even PAY taxes. And another 5% make over $200,000, and he won’t give them a tax cut. LIAR! Saying McCain wants to add an additional tax cut over the loopholes. Talking about McCain’s health care tax credit. Saying McCain wants to tax health benefits. That’s not true.
McCain: Talking about an energy bill with breaks for oil companies, and McCain voted against it, but Obama voted for it.” Obama tried to interrupt – that just looks tacky when he keeps doing it. Saying that Obama has shifted on a number of occasions.
Obama: Talking about Obama lying about the oil companies. “I was opposed to those tax breaks … tried to strip them out.”
Lehrer: “As President … what are you going to have to give up … as a result of having to pay for the financial rescue plan?”
Obama: “Right now, it’s hard to anticipate what the budget is going to look like next year.” He’s right about that. “Energy independence.” Talking about solar, wind, biodiesel here at home. And the Independents REALLY loved that – highest rating I’ve seen all night. Fix our healthcare system. Compete in education – science and technology. “Make sure our children are keeping pace in math and in science.” Make college affordable for all. That’s not even useful. Not EVERYBODY needs college. America needs plumbers and other basic labor workers too.
McCain: “No matter what, we have got to cut spending.” Obama has most liberal rating. “It’s hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left.” Do away with cost-plus contracts. Talking about defense contracts and needing fixed-cost contracts. And he’s absolutely right. One of the big areas we need to save money is in defense contracts. Talking about fixing a contract with Boeing, and people ending up in prison because of it, but hte Independents didn’t like that too much.
Lehrer: Neither of you are really going to have big changes?
Obama: “I want to make sure that we are investing in energy in order to [break off from] foreign oil.” Right now, even the Democrats aren’t giving him a good audience reaction. The Republicans are giving him a higher rating! Saying that him being wildly liberal is just him opposing George Bush. And that spiked the Dems’ rating. Saying that he’s worked with Coburn so that taxpayers can see who’s promoting spending projects.
Lehrer: “How [will] this effect you in the approach you will take to the Presidency.”
McCain: Spending freeze on all but Veterans, defense, and I forget what else.
Obama: You’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel. But heck, that’d have to be a big scalpel. But he does have a point here.
McCain: We’re sending money overseas, and some of that goes eventually to terrorists (through oil). We need nuclear, solar, wind, offshore drilling, etc… Get 70,000 (?) jobs by building nuclear plants throughout the country. And Obama is against this. And that’s one thing that really angers me about Obama – WE NEED NUCLEAR!
Obama: “There is not fact that it [economic crisis] will affect our budgets” even if we get the $700 billion back. “If we’re lucky and do it right, that could potentially happen.” “We can expect less tax revenue.” And he’s really not getting a good audience response here. Talking about not being able to leave out healthcare, and the Independents’ and Republicans’ approval just dropped.
McCain: Families should make decisions between themselves and doctors, not federal government. “I have fought to cut spending.” “Obama needs to cancel new spending programs.” Talking about taking care of veterans. Healthy economy, lowering, not raising taxes, with spending restraint. And the independents liked that. Talking about owing China money, and saying he’s fought against excessive spending. And the ratings are skyrocketing – and again, I LOVE his stance on spending!
Obama: It’s been your President who presided over this spending. But Bush and McCain aren’t the same. Stop pretending they are. That still got a good reply from the Independents.
McCain: I have opposed the President on spending, torture, Guantanamo, climate change. Talking about being an Independent and Maverick, and having Sarah Palin as the same. His ratings stunk right there. He lost Dems, Reps, and Inds.
Lehrer: On to Iraq.
McCain: “Our initial military success … Baghdad, and everybody celebrated.” Then the war was mishandled. Came up with a new strategy. It’s succeeding. The Inds and Dems rating has fallen a lot, but hte Reps are rating him high. Talking about the consequences of defeat being Iranian influence higher, more sectarian violence, and U.S. having to come back (referring to defeat before the surge). And the Inds just started to rate him a lot better. I think he did as good as he could back there.
Obama: I would’ve voted against it. “We hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan … caught bin Laden … and put Al Qaeda to rest.” Talking about soon to be a trillion dollars spent, plus 4,000 lives lost. Saying that Al Qaeda is stronger than ever. “We took our eye off the ball.” Talking about Iraq having a surplus while we’re losing money. He’s bringing up a LOT of good points that I thought would appeal to people, but he’s not rating THAT great, although the Dems really like him. Now it’s peaked a bit more.
McCain: President will have to decide how and when we leave and what we leave behind. He’s absolutely right. Obama saying surge worked, but he’d still oppose it. And he lost a lot of Indy rating points just back there. But he’s right. Obama is simply sticking by what he said even though what he said was WRONG!
Obama: Talking about McCain being right about reduced violence. Saying troops and Petraeus doing a good job. But that made up for mismanagement before that. War started in 2003, not 2007. Saying McCain said it’d be quick and easy, but he was wrong. Saying we’d be greeted as liberators, but we weren’t. And he lost a lot of support from Inds, but he’s still doing better than McCain has on Iraq.
McCain: Saying Obama doesn’t have military experience, he’s got some better support form Inds and Reps now. Saying that this strategy and general are winning, but Obama refuses to acknowledge this. (Obama: “That’s not true.”) Talking about elections and peace coming to Iraq, and the strategy will be employed in Afghanistan in a McCain administration, and the Inds went up a bit there. Talking about Obama voting against troop funding.
Obama: McCain opposed funding for troops in a timetable bill. Had a difference on timetables, not funding. And Obama’s right. It always looks bad on paper when you vote against funding, but if you don’t agree with the overall bill, don’t vote for it. I have to side with Obama here, and the Inds liked that a lot, and even the Republicans aren’t that negatively rating him. Reduce combat troops in Iraq. “Capture and kill bin Laden.” We don’t have enough troops to deal with Afghanistan.
McCain: Saying that military leaders saying that Obama’s plan would be bad for the troops. Talking about Petraeus praising the progress we’ve made. Saying that under Obama’s plan, we’d have been out before the surge could have even succeeded. Saying that Obama’s plan will “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”
Lehrer: How many and when (if more troops in Afghanistan)?
Obama: As soon as possible. Saying that this year has been the year for highest troop fatalities. Can’t separate Afghanistan from Iraq. And the Independents are rating him lower than the Repubs now – that’s surprising. Saying that Al Qaeda is the greatest threat against us, and that we have to deal with them in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not Iraq. Press the Afghan government to make sure that they’re working for their people. And he’s absolutely right – we need to press the Afghani government. Talking about needing to reduce the poppy trade over there. And that’s another area we need to work on.
McCain: Talking about not being ready to threaten Pakistan, because that’d be dangerous. We need to get support of the people of Pakistan. And the Independents are rating him pretty high here. Saying that Obama doesn’t understand that we need a new strategy. Saying that Pakistani terrorists are married to Al Qaeda and Taliban. Ratings are very high from Reps and Inds. Although it’s dropped now. Saying we need more troops in Afghanistan, but saying that we have put more in already. Talking about Obama publicly saying he’d attack Pakistan.
Obama: Saying that if we have Al Qaeda in sights, and Pakistan won’t help us take them out, then we need to take them out. Again, I have to side with Obama here. Talking about McCain singing “Bomb Iran.” And that was so stupid of McCain, and really makes him look like a hypocrite a bit here. Although he lost a lot of ratings there surprisingly. Talking about not going after Al Qaeda, and they’re more powerful than ever.
McCain: Talking about him being a new Congressman – Reagan wanting to send Marines into Lebanon, and McCain voting against it, because he didn’t think that 300 Marines could make a difference, and saying that he was right – many Marines were killed in the bombing. Talking about voting for going into Bosnia, when it wasn’t popular. Saying that we need more than a peace-keeping force in Somalia. And he’s right. We need to do what’s RIGHT, not what’s popular! Saying that our mission NEEDS to succeed. And he’s absolutely right. We don’t want defeat, and we cannot afford defeat! “We won’t come home in defeat and dishonor and probably have to go back if we fail.”
Obama: “No U.S. soldier ever dies in vain. … We honor the service they’ve provided. … Are we making good judgments” for keeping America safe, because sending troops is such a huge issue. “We are having enormous problems in Afghanistan.” Saying it’s not true that McCain has consistently cared about Afghanistan. Saying McCain said we could “muddle through” Afghanistan.
McCain: “I’ve visited Afghanistan … and I know what our needs are. We will prevail … and we need a new strategy.” If we adopt Obama’s plan, we’ll fail in Iraq, and that will have a great effect on Afghanistan. Obama fails to see that the 2 are connected.
Lehrer: “What is your reading from the threat from Iran?”
McCain: If Iran acquires nukes, it’s a threat to Israel and other countries. Others will feel the need to get nukes. “We can’t afford a second holocaust.” Proposing a league of Democracies who would impose sanctions on Iranians, since the Russians won’t do it. “The Iranians have a lousy government, so their economy is lousy, even though they have significant oil revenues.” A nuclear Iran is a threat to the world. They’re putting IEDs in Iraq. They’re a sponsor of terror. And he’s getting some pretty good ratings right now, from both Indeps and Repubs.
Obama: Talking about the thing that strengthened Iran was the War in Iraq. Their involvement has grown. They’ve tried harder to get nukes. “We cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran.” It would threaten Israel, and “create an environment [that would] set off an arms race in the Middle East.” We can’t have sanctions without Russia and China. Well Obama, you’re not going to get Russia OR China to side with you! You’re dreaming if you think you will. Saying we need to talk to leaders in Iran and North Korea, and he as President will.
McCain: Senator Obama twice said he’d sit down with Ahmadinejad, Chavez, and Castro. Ahmadinejad is in New York now talking about extermination of Israel. Saying that we can’t sit down without preconditions. And he’s right. NO President has ever sat down without preconditions (Reagan didn’t, JFK didn’t, and Nixon didn’t). And now McCain is using examples that I just gave. “I’ll sit down with anybody, but there’s gotta be preconditions.” GOOD job McCain! You’re absolutely right.
Obama: Ahmadinejad isn’t the most powerful person in Iran. Saying as President, he can sit down with whoever he wants if it keeps America safe. Saying that we CAN meet without preconditions, but not do with what we’ve been doing where we say you must do X or we won’t meet with you. “Of course we need preparations.” “It may not work. Iran is a rogue regime.” Obama is getting pretty much the same ratings now as McCain was getting a minute ago (about a third of the way between neutral and as positive as you can go). “The Bush Administration and McCain’s advisors (Kissinger)” think we should meet without preconditions. Saying McCain said we can’t meet with Spain, a NATO ally.
McCain: “Kissinger never said that the President could meet with Ahmadinejad.” “Obama doesn’t understand that without precondition … you legitimize those comments [against Israel]. … It’s dangerous.” Talking about North Koreans breaking everything they’ve ever said they’d do.
Obama: McCain keeps saying that I’ll meet with somebody without preparing – this isn’t true. “We do not expect to solve every problem before we initiate talks.” The Bush administration realized this doesn’t work. “The notion that we’d meet with Ahmadinejad as he spews his comments is” wrong.
McCain: Kissinger would not say “that Presidential, top level” communications should be made without preconditions.
The two are going back and forth, and ratings are dropping a lot.
Lehrer: How do you see the relationship with Russia?
Obama: “Our entire Russian approach needs to be reevaluated. … Actions in Georgia were unacceptable and unwarranted.” They need to get out of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Democrats really aren’t liking what he’s saying here. The Inds are rating him higher than Dems are. We can’t go back to a Cold War status with Russia. We need to deal with loose nuclear weapons when it comes to Russia. “Deal with Russia based on [our] national security interests.”
McCain: Obama doesn’t understand that Russia committed aggression against Georgia when he said that both sides need to back down a bit. He’s compared Putin to the KGB. We can’t go back to the Cold War. The Georgian War “had everything to do with energy.” McCain’s rating a bit better than Obama, but neither are performing well right now with the audience. “The Russians ought to understand that we’ll support … the inclusion of Georgia, and Ukraine … into inclusion of NATO.” The Russians violated their cease fire agreement. Saying that Russian intentions toward Georgia – just waiting to cease the opportunity. Expecting Russians to behave as a country who will respect boundaries. And he’s right – Russia can’t be left to keep doing what it’s been doing. It HAS to respect the sovereignty of other countries. McCain rating pretty decent now, compared to an average rating before.
Obama: McCain and I agree for the most part on these issues. Says he disagrees with McCain a bit on Georgia. I don’t think the Dems liked that – Obama is doing a decent amount worse than McCain was doing. Talking about Russian peace keepers in Georgia not making sense and that we needed international peace keepers there, and that might have avoided the situation. And Obama is right there. Talking about energy. We need to increase offshore drilling. “We can’t drill our way out of the problem.” Talking about needing wind, solar, and nuclear. And now he’s rating higher than McCain was at the end of McCain’s last statement. Saying McCain voted against alternative energy 23 times.
McCain: Saying that Obama is really against nuclear, and that offshore drilling would help more than Obama says it would. McCain is getting pretty low ratings now, especially from Dems.
Obama: I have never said that I object to nuclear waste, but I’d store it safely.
McCain: I’ve always been for alternative energy.
Lehrer: What do you think the likelihood is of another 9/11 attack?
McCain: Much less than the day after 9/11, but we’re not safe yet. Talking about working across the aisle to establish the investigation commission. Saying we need interrogators who won’t use torture. Saying that we are safer now.
Obama: We need to do more in terms of securing transit and ports. Biggest issue is not missiles coming over skies, but from a suitcase. Spending billions on missile defense, which we need because of Iran/Korea, but we need more for other areas as well. Ratings are pretty high for him here. We need more cooperation with allies. “The way we are perceived in the world” will affect the cooperation we get. He’s right here. We have slipped in terms of how we’re viewed by the world. McCain has a good stance on terror. And the ratings right there are the highest they’ve been at any time during the debate, even Reps rated him decently high.
McCain: If we fail in Iraq, Al Qaeda will establish a base in Iraq. McCain isn’t rating too good right now, especially with Inds and Dems. We can’t have specific dates for withdrawal. We’ve had great success, but it’s fragile.
Obama: Saying that this administration has been solely focused on Iraq, and we haven’t captured bin Laden. Talking about borrowing from China, and they’ve been active around the world, while we’ve been focused on Iraq. We’re spending so much money, we can’t invest in health care or science/technology. “We’ve never seen a nation who has a failing economy but maintains military strength, so this is a national security issue.” The next President has to have better strategy for all the challenges we face. Pretty good ratings there
McCain: Saying he’s been around involved in challenges. Saying Obama doesn’t have experience, but he does. Talking about Obama failing to admit the success of the surge. McCain is right here. Obama is just being stubborn. Saying that he’ll take care of veterans, that he has right judgment to keep nation safe and secure. “I don’t need any on the job training. I’m ready to go right now.”
Obama: Talking about his father being from Kenya, and that there’s not nation like America, where you can become so successful. “Part of what we need to do … is to send a message to the world that we’ll invest in issues like education … how ordinary people can live out there dreams.”
McCain: Talking about coming home from prison and seeing veterans treated poorly, and working on bipartisan bills to see our veterans treated better. I know how to deal with our adversaries and how to deal with our friends.
Lehrer: We’re done. “Thank you and good night.”
McCain/Obama: “Good job.”
And there you have it – the wives are coming out and kissing each other. A little more than the 90 minutes scheduled, but that’s ok.
OK, so who won? Both Obama and McCain had some pretty good moments, but I don’t think there was a clear cut winner here. I think both performed pretty much on the same level. I’m not saying that the two were identical in debating, but I don’t think one did better than the other. I absolutely hate saying this, because I love objectivity and clear cut answers, but I really do think it was a tie.
I’d love to go on more and more, but my hands are just killing me right now (hey – it was a lot of typing), so I think I’ve said most all of what I wanted to say.
By the way – a big thanks to my roommate who helped with correcting quotes and what was said. It’s hard to keep up with typing and trying to listen, so a huge thanks to him for helping me out with this!