Initial Reaction

September 26, 2008 10:53 p.m.

My take on this debate was that both candidates made their basic arguments clearly. They stuck to the points they’re making on the campaign trail. Neither of these guys are powerful debaters but both held up well. I didn’t see many real gaffes or mistakes.

I said before the debate started that we should expect some outside the box, over the top antics from McCain. But that didn’t really turn out to be true.

Through most of the debate — as I was live-blogging — I was thinking, Hmm, this is pretty much a draw, about what you’d expect with one person arguing McCain’s agenda and another arguing Obama’s. In that sense, I thought it was largely a tie. But McCain’s whole campaign is based on his supposed superior knowledge and judgment on foreign policy. So I think that’s a problem for McCain.

A few key points to consider that may pick up steam over the next hours and days.

McCain repeated what everyone agrees is a lie in claiming that Barack Obama has voted to increase taxes on people making as little as $42,000. Flat out lie.

He repeated his line about the wasteful earmark studying Bear DNA when it’s now been revealed that his vice presidential running mate did the exact same thing — only about seal DNA.

I said above that McCain didn’t have any freak-out moments. But he did have that sneer and there did seem to be this thing where he was so contemptuous and angry at Obama that he couldn’t get himself to make eye contact. I think we’ll hear more about that.

Angry, angry, angry. Part of the key here is that McCain is clearly miffed that he even has to debate or run against Obama. He thinks it’s an insult.

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