Some very quick thoughts. The debate was a surprisingly substantive discussion of a number of issues that actually resonate in people’s lives. Which means it wasn’t really anything like a political debate. I thought both candidates had a good debate. For the first half and maybe a little more, I thought Clinton was the more commanding presence, though not overwhelmingly. Then in the second half things changed, the balance changed. The key seemed to be Iraq. No hard punches were thrown. And I thought Clinton did well. She just had a set of facts that weren’t as good as his to deal with. And even though it was gently, he kept hitting on this point of the authorization of the war. And it was very effective. There was just no really good answer for Clinton, though as I’ve said before many times I actually think there are decent arguments justifying the vote as not simply a vote for war.
In the context of the race, I think this helped Obama because it put the two of them on the same level, the same stature level. As I’ve said before, Obama in general has not been a good debater. But this was a good one for him. Clinton on the other hand I think helped herself by getting the focus back on her, as opposed to her husband. Not that there’s anything wrong with Bill. But this is her election. I guess on points I’d give this to Obama because of the exchanges on Iraq, but it was a very close call. And both had a good debate.