With all eyes on the race for the White House, cheerleaders for both sides have been quick to claim victory in the latest presidential debate. John McCain needed a win to revive his flagging campaign, but independent observers say Barack Obama earned at least a draw.
“I think Obama had a good night,” said Liz Sidoti from the Associated Press. “I mean, he was poised, he was confident, he did not seem to let McCain rattle him. He stuck to his script to a T, did not have any major gaffes. In a town-hall format, that is pretty tough. McCain on the other hand really needed a game-changing event. He needed a performance that blew the walls off the place, and frankly, he did not get it.”
Post-debate polls must make poor reading for the Republican camp. While notoriously unreliable, they can influence undecided voters, and most show Obama consolidating his lead nationally, and drawing level in several traditionally-Republican states. McCain tried to attack, but Obama hit back.
McCain said: “Senator Obama was wrong about Iraq and the surge, he was wrong about Russia when they committed aggression against Georgia and in his short career he does not understand our national security challenges.”
Obama said: “When Senator McCain was cheer-leading the President to go into Iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy, we would be greeted as liberators. That was the wrong judgment, and it has been costly to us.”
The evening was generally polite and respectful, despite the mud-slinging of recent days. The two men meet for a third and final debate next week. Election day is less than four weeks away.