It was seen as John McCain’s last chance to revive his campaign, but snap polls after the third and final presidential debate suggest Barack Obama reinforced his lead in the race for the White House.
McCain tried hard, and produced his most feisty performance so far, but it may not be enough. He deflected Obama’s criticism that he is a second George Bush: “Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you want to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago. I am going to give a new direction to this economy and this country.”
Obama stepped up and hit that ball straight back, saying: “If I have occasionally mistaken your policies for George Bush’s policies it is because, on the core economic issues that matter to the American people — on tax policy, on energey policy, on spending priorities — you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush.”
One contributor to the show wasn’t even there. He was an ordinary working man, now known to most Americans as ‘Joe the Plumber,’ who had met Obama earlier in the week and complained about his spending plans.
McCain said: “Joe, I want to tell you, I will help you buy that business that you have worked your whole life for and I will keep your taxes low and I will provide affordable and available healthcare for you and your employees.”
Obama fired back: “Look, nobody likes taxes. I would prefer it that none of us had to pay taxes, including myself, but ultimately we have got to pay for the core investments that make this economy strong, and somebody’s got to do it.”
And, so, it was left to the candidates to make their final direct pitch to the voters, one last appeal for support.
The Republican candidate evoked his family: “As a long line of McCains that have served our country for a long time in war and in peace, it has been the great honour of my life, and I have been proud to serve. And I hope you will give me an opportunity to serve again. I would be honoured and humbled.”
Obama answered that the country would be safer in Democrat hands: “The biggest risk that we could take right now is to adopt the same failed policies and the same failed politics that we have seen over the last eight years, and somehow expect a different result. We need fundamental change in this country, and that is what I would like to bring.”