Presidential Debate Highlights, Final Round

(Editor's Note: As a public service after major debates during the presidential campaign, this blog is providing video highlights of the key moments from the latest debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. This debate was conducted at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.)

by Rick Rockwell

Bob Schieffer of CBS News kept this third debate between the presidential candidates moving and lively for at least the first hour or so. During that time, the candidates did slip back into their stump speeches, campaign rhetoric and repeated jabs from earlier debates, at times. However, Schieffer was adept at asking follow-up questions, but then stepping back to let the candidates go at one another. The result was this debate was less of an echo of the first presidential debate than last week's clash between the major party candidates, although still not as free wheeling as the vice presidential debate.

Organizers of this debate wanted a primary focus on domestic policy, especially economic issues and for the most part that held although Sen. McCain (R-AZ), in attempts to show his expertise in international affairs chose specific moments to poke at Sen. Obama's inexperience in that area. And now the video highlights after the jump....

Some of the early energy in this debate was provided by the fact both candidates have unveiled new economic proposals in the past week. During this first segment, both candidates describe some of the details of those plans. But the metaphor of the middle class — someone from an Obama rally called simply Joe the Plumber — became the central image of large portions of this debate.

Although Joe the Plumber continues as a touchstone for both candidates in this segment of the debate, one of Schieffer's best moments was when he analyzed the candidates' budget proposals and asked "aren't both of you ignoring reality?"

After questions from Schieffer asking both candidates why this campaign had become particularly nasty and negative in its tone, Sen. McCain launched his most pointed attacks at Sen. Obama (D-IL), including attempts to tie Obama to Bill Ayers (who was a member of the Weather Underground) and the unfolding ACORN voter registration scandal.

The debate did slip into international topics because of discussions of energy policy and trade agreements espcially NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). This section began with a discussion of the merits of each candidate's choice for vice president, but soon touched on policy toward Venezuela and Colombia.

The final segments of the debate dealt with healthcare, education, and abortion.

For more background on the 2008 campaign, please see these archival posts:

  • "New Hampshire: Barack Obama's Latest Hope;"
  • "John McCain and the Republican Right;"
  • "Joe Biden: More of the Same from the Democrats;"
  • "Sarah Palin, Sex & the Republicans;"
  • "2008 Election Manifesto: Voting Your Conscience Isn't Wasting Your Vote;" and
  • "Campaign 2008: Mainstream Media, Take a Deep Breath."

  • (The photo of Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois campaigning in Ohio in February of this year is by BohPhoto of Cleveland, OH via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)

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    movie fan said...

    it's kindof sad that McCain and Palin have lowered people's standards so far that, when they finally manage to put whole sentences together during their debates suddenly they either "tie" or "are really making strides in their campaign" Between the two of them, they've got the pity vote locked away for sure. As for their actual competancy....

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