Wednesday night John McCain put a dent in the Obama persona. There’s no doubt that out of all the debates this fall, John McCain had his best one at Hofstra University. He was able to pokes some holes in Obama’s armor. He nicked him with Ayers, ACORN, public financing, negative advertising, abortion and yes, Joe the Plumber.
It really is a waste of time to declare someone a winner or loser in this debate. The reality is this: McCain clearly brought Obama down a peg or two by trying to make him out to be a lying liberal run of the mill politician. That plays well to the base.
The social issues of abortion and judges came up as well. McCain was extremely strong on both of them and that bodes well for him among social conservatives. It was red meat material. Remember, quite a bit has been made about how McCain may need to stay away from hot button issues like abortion because it turns off independent voters. Well, hold on a minute. It may do that to a certain extent but the last time I checked, McCain also needs an energetic motivated Evangelical base to get to the polls too. Sarah Palin helped quite a bit in that regard but McCain’s strong comments on abortion and judges may help get those “sit on your hands” Evangelicals out of the pews and into the polling booths.
The “Joe the Plumber” moments were probably some of McCain’s best moments. Not only was McCain able to use the Joe the Plumber story as an example of class warfare, he also used Joe as a way to make the economy a personal story. Up until tonight, McCain seemed to be missing that personal touch. But by grabbing on to the Joe theme throughout, it gave McCain a great opportunity to relate to the common man. (Or woman)
Clearly, the line of the night was when McCain’s distanced himself from the President by saying:
I’m sure a lot of McCain supporters thought “It’s about time”. Obama has been hammering McCain on his ties to Bush forever but Wednesday night McCain not only delivered the big line but also listed numerous examples of how he is different than President Bush.
While McCain had a good night, it remains to be seen how this will translate in the last three weeks of this campaign. McCain is trailing in every national poll and the battleground state polls aren’t thrilling either.
Meanwhile, Obama continues his usual calm, cool, collected and reasoned demeanor. His answers seemed thoughtful and more importantly presidential and bi-partisan. Obama had a solid debate. I noticed that Obama kept trying to steer the conversation back to the economy when it started sliding into dangerous waters. (Negative campaigning, Ayers, etc)
Anytime the economy is front and center (like the first two debates) Obama is a happy camper. But in this debate, the economy really took a back seat which put Obama in a zone that he’d rather not be in.