“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More from the press on the McCain debate

"The Mac Is Back," As "McCain Not Only Found A Central Theme But Hit On It Repeatedly"
Politico's Roger Simon: "John McCain was very lucky that he decided to show up for the first presidential debate in Oxford, Miss., Friday night. Because he gave one of his strongest debate performances ever. While Barack Obama repeatedly tried to link McCain to the very unpopular George W. Bush, Bush's name will not be on the ballot in November and McCain's will. And McCain not only found a central theme but hit on it repeatedly. Obama is inexperienced, naive, and just doesn't understand things, McCain said. Sure, McCain is a pretty old guy for a presidential candidate, but he showed the old guy did not mind mixing it up. He stood behind a lectern for 90 minutes without a break -- you try that when you are 72 -- and he not only gave as good as he got, he seemed to relish it more. At least twice after sharp attacks by McCain, Obama seemed to look to moderator Jim Lehrer for help, sa ying to Lehrer, 'Let's move on.'" (Roger Simon, "The Mac Is Back," Poltico, 9/27/08)

· Simon: "But McCain seemed to get it Friday night. He certainly knew enough to try to turn his age into a plus and not a minus. 'There are some advantages to experience, knowledge and judgment,' McCain said. ... McCain seemed to be enjoying himself. He smiled a lot, mostly when Obama was talking, though his smile was really more like a smirk. ... Both avoided their negative stereotypes: Obama did not seem aloof or condescending. McCain did not seem erratic or wild. You could imagine either one of them in the Oval Office, but only one is going to get there. 'I don't need any on-the-job training,' McCain said. 'I am ready to go at it right now.' He certainly seemed like it Friday night." (Roger Simon, "The Mac Is Back," Poltico, 9/27/08)

"It Was One Of The Most Substantive Debates In Recent Presidential Campaign History And John McCain Won It. The Arizona Senator Was Cool, Informed And Forceful ..."
The Des Moines Register's David Yepsen: "It was one of the most substantive debates in recent presidential campaign history and John McCain won it. The Arizona senator was cool, informed and forceful in Friday's first presidential debate of the general election campaign. He repeatedly put Barack Obama on the defensive throughout the 90 minutes session. Obama did little to ease voter concerns that he's experienced enough to handle foreign and defense policy. That was his number one task Friday night and he failed." (David Yepsen, "McCain Wins Round 1," The Des Moines Register's "On Politics" Blog, www.desmoinesregister.com, 9/26/08)

The New Republic's Michael Crowley: "McCain also had a clarity of message that Obama lacked. His core message is easy to sum up: Let's cut waste and spending. I'm a tough leader. Obama is naive and unprepared. Obama, by contrast, had no single message that he repeatedly drove home." (Michael Crowley, "McCain Was Good. But Good Enough?" The New Republic's "Stump" Blog, blogs.tnr.com, 9/26/08)

· Crowley: "And stylistically, McCain was more in control. He was the one setting the tone and introducing nettlesome topics, forcing Obama to respond and defend himself." (Michael Crowley, "McCain Was Good. But Good Enough?" The New Republic's "Stump" Blog, blogs.tnr.com, 9/26/08)

ABC's David Wright: "McCain, too, not only had a strong performance tonight, but seemed to have a strategy throughout. As George said, you heard him mention over and over again, Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand. He also kept mentioning his travel schedule. I've been to Waziristan, I've been to South Ossetia, and at the very end he paid it off with his humdinger of a line at the end, saying that basically, he doesn't need on the job experience. I think the McCain campaign is very pleased with it." (ABC's "Vote '08: Presidential Debate Analysis," 9/26/08)

The New York Times' Bill Kristol: "I think McCain won the debate. I think there will be a deal this weekend and he will be vindicated in his efforts to some degree to have actually dealt with reality as opposed to going around giving stump speeches and the McCain campaign will have momentum going into next week and that will set up the Palin-Biden debate." (Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," 9/26/08)

Real Clear Politics' Blake Dvorak: "[M]cCain performed well, putting Obama on the defensive on several occasions and getting in some good one-liners." (Blake Dvorak, "Who Won...?" Real Clear Politics' "The Real Clear Politics" Blog, time-blog.com, 9/26/08)

The Atlantic's Ross Douthat: "A Win For McCain." (Ross Douthat, "A Win For McCain," The Atlantic's "Ross Douthat" Blog, rossdouthat.theatlantic.com, 9/26/08)

Commentary's Jennifer Rubin: "Only the most devoted partisan could deny it was a very, very strong outing for John McCain. On foreign policy he was devastating -- making clear how much more resolute and experienced he is." (Jennifer Rubin, "The Winner," Commentary's "Contentions" Blog, www.commentarymagazine.com, 9/26/08)

"McCain Was Repeatedly On The Offensive And To Some Extent, Obama Was On The Defensive"
Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss: "[J]ohn McCain was repeatedly on the offensive and to some extent, Obama was on the defensive. I was surprised by that. in terms of strategy, we'll see what works. But often times in debates, if a candidate does go on the offensive, it does tend to work. That's what Kennedy did in 1960. It's what Ronald Reagan did in 1980 and it is what Bill Clinton did in 1992." (PBS's "Presidential Debate," 9/26/08)

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza: "McCain's strongest moment of the debate also happened to be Obama's weakest. McCain absolutely hammered Obama over his pledge to meet with rogue foreign leaders without preconditions and Obama had no ready answer -- odd since he had to know this attack was coming. McCain was able to turn a single question about meeting with rogue leaders into an extended colloquy that ended with him hitting Obama for misunderstanding Henry Kissinger. A very good moment for McCain." (Chris Cillizza, "The Mississippi Debate: First Thoughts And Who Won?" The Washington Post's "The Fix" Blog, voices.washingtonpost.com, 9/26/08)

· Cillizza: "He poked fun at his age several times, jabbed Obama playfully yet effectively (I don't even have a presidential seal') and seemed in command of the subject matter and the stage. When moderator Jim Lehrer said at one point that the two candidates had spoken for almost the same amount of time, we were surprised; McCain seemed from our perspective to command more time." (Chris Cillizza, "The Mississippi Debate: First Thoughts and Who Won?" The Washington Post's "The Fix" Blog, voices.washingtonpost.com, 9/26/08)

Los Angeles Times: "But McCain closed strongly, becoming more assertive in the debate's final 30 minutes and zinging Obama time and again as out of his league on foreign policy." (Don Frederick and Kate Linthicum, "Live-Blogging The Presidential Debate: McCain, Obama Start Out Sparring Over The Economy," Los Angeles Times' "Top Of The Ticker" Blog, latimesblogs.latimes.com, 9/26/08)

CNN's Alex Castellanos: "The old fighter pilot I thought hit the target. He demonstrated great command, names, places, name dropping is not a bad thing in a foreign policy debate like this sometime and he even got under Barack Obama's skin." (CNN's "Debate Coverage," 9/26/08)
· Castellanos: "I thought McCain was successful, even though Barack Obama scored a lot. I think on a few more points, McCain kind of dragged him down into the foreign policy debate and worked him over, I thought pretty good. ... It looked almost a little bit like at times Obama was looking for the flash cards and he'd crammed for the exam and McCain obviously didn't have to do that..." (CNN's "Debate Coverage," 9/26/08)

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