Did Republican nominee Senator John McCain score a game changing win at the town-hall style debate in Nashville last night? Or did Democratic hopeful Senator Barack Obama out shine McCain again in the second debate as many felt he did in the first? For the next few days these questions will be debated in the media and among voters.
I expected McCain to do better in Nashville, because he considers the town-hall meeting his strength. This time, McCain’s responses and attacks did not have the nasty bite or condescending tone of the first debate. Yet, he did have several failed attempts at humor, which reportedly has worked for him in past town-hall gatherings. Apparently, the 80 undecided voters in the audience wanted to hear serious statements from the candidates, not weak comedic one-liners.
Also, McCain did not launch any major negative attacks on Obama’s character or past associations. That was probably a smart move since most voters have repeatedly panned those attacks as a waste of time when what they want to hear is what candidates are going to do about the country’s problems.
Obama, who appeared to be quit comfortable in the town-hall style debate, and McCain once again touted their records and policies. They slugged it out over issues like the financial crisis, energy, the Iraq war, and foreign policy. They have expressed most of these positions many times before, except for a surprise proposal from McCain.
For the first time, McCain proposed a federal bailout plan which would directly benefit struggling homeowners. The plan would buy bad mortgages directly from homeowners and replace them with new fixed-rate mortgages. McCain estimated the plan would cost $300 billion. Interesting, since throughout the campaign and debates, McCain has criticized Obama for presenting proposals that would spend, spend, spend federal money.
Most preliminary polls are showing Obama won the second debate. Some surveys indicate it was a tie, which is actually a loss for McCain who is trailing Obama in the major polls and needed to win big last night.
The third and final presidential debate of 2008 will be a week from today, October 15, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.