11:53pm: Well, I wanted to thank everyone for stopping by to read and comment tonight. Your participation is what makes FHQ fun. Thanks again.
10:33pm: Maybe Brian Williams misplaced that "boisterous" that he used to describe town hall debates following last week's rather tame affair between the two candidates. But I think it certainly applies to this one. Contrary to what we have typically seen from these sit-down debates, this one had some fireworks. What do you think, Joe the Plumber? Well, Joe has slipped into his Joe Sixpack cape and is off to fight for average Americans. The constant Joe refrain throughout was an interesting exchange. But the question of the hour: Who won? Honestly, I'm torn. The McCain offensive, to me, was a turn off early on, but after I got used to it, I took it all in stride. I spoke early on about whether McCain would receive a get out of jail free card on the going negative simply because it was perceived that he had to. But the answer to that question will have a large say in who actually won this one. If the attacks were normalized for everyone else, as they were in my case, then McCain may get the nod. If that's the case, though, does it change anything. Obama is seen as having the upper hand on domestic issues. Is it a blow to him if McCain was able to top him in friendly territory? And if it is, how much of a blow is it? I'm asking a lot of questions here, but this debate left many unanswered. I'll turn it over to the comments section for now. I may hang around and comment for a while, but I'd like to get the new electoral college map post out tonight. With Florida turning blue, it should offer some interesting analysis. Oh, now I'm trying to sell and hype myself simultaneously. This never ends well.
10:31pm: That is all. Well, "Good job, good job, good job, we did it" forcefully from McCain closes it. Let's see how long the McCain's hang around after this one. Of course it isn't the same as after a town hall debate.
10:29pm: Obama seems to be attempting to channel his inner-Bill Clinton in his closing remarks. It's the economy, stupid. McCain looks like he wants to offer a rebuttal to Obama on this.
10:28pm: McCain plays up the trust angle in his statements.
10:26pm: McCain ends the pre-closing statement portion on a snarky note. "There aren't enough vouchers," so we scrap the whole thing. "Got it."
10:26pm: Obama: "Senator McCain is absolutely right" returns in full force.
10:24pm: I'm guessing Obama lets the long since past McCain comments on abolishing the Department of Education pass. Perhaps that argument is being made in the Bizarro debate. That one is on C-SPAN2.
10:22pm: Obama agrees with McCain on charter schools and increased competition for public schools. But disagrees with McCain's stance on college accessibility and affordability. My student loans are listening.
10:20pm: More federal government involvement in education?
10:18pm: McCain: "It's the civil rights issue of the 21st century."
10:17pm: Question: Is declining education a national security issue?
10:16pm: Out of the troubled waters of abortion and on to education.
10:14pm: McCain is chomping at the bit to respond here at the same time Obama is trying to find common ground on this issue.
10:12pm: McCain rolls his eyes in response to Obama denying that he voted to deny care to these infants of failed abortions. Obama says there was another law on the books already dealing with that.
10:11pm: Ah, and now McCain brings up the present votes and one was on an abortion-related bill before the Illinois senate when Obama was there.
10:09pm: Obama thinks Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. Then he leans on the classic Democratic argument on the issue: choice.
10:07pm: When did Obama vote against Justice Breyer? Maybe it was a "present" vote, but I doubt it.
10:06pm: Alright, Roe v. Wade. Here we go. Supreme Court nominations. Litmus tests? McCain says no.
I apologize for skipping over the substance of that health care discussion, but there was a lot of good stuff in that exchange.
10:05pm: Awesome Freudian slip there from McCain. "Senator Government, uh, Senator Obama." High comedy.
10:04pm: Gold-plated Cadillac?
10:04pm: Welcome to the Joe Debate! Can we get this guy on stage, please?
10:01pm: I sincerely hope that Joe the Plumber is the same person as Joe Sixpack. I'll be disappointed if they aren't one in the same. But which one is the superhero name and which one is the mild-mannered reporter name. Well, I just answered that one. It would be mild-mannered plumber in this case.
10:00pm: Obama: "Here's your fine, Joe [the plumber]. Zero." McCain: "Zero?"
9:59pm: $5000 tax credit from McCain. Buy into the same coverage we get from Obama. Ah, McCain revisits the fines. Well, you knew that was coming.
9:58pm: McCain is smiling with a response to Obama seemingly at the ready. This has been more entertaining than the other debates, I'll say that.
9:56pm: On to health care.
9:55pm: "I just recited to you the benefits of that agreement." Was McCain talking to Obama or Schieffer on that one?
9:51pm: McCain goes after Obama on semantics. "He will look at -- did you get that -- look at off-shore drilling." And then he returns to free trade, stressing the Columbia agreement and Obama's not having been south of the border. Obama leans on the specifics and his understanding of the situation in response.
9:50pm: McCain has his pen out and ready for Obama's response to his line on unilaterally renegotiating NAFTA. Obama calls for a reexamination of these trade agreements.
9:48pm: How much in four years? Obama says those "bad" sources can be eliminated in ten years time.
9:47pm: New Question: Climate change and oil importation decreases. How much can you lower that level during your time in office. Canadian oil is fine, but Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil is not according to McCain.
9:46pm: McCain is all in. Angry or not, here I come. He honestly has nothing to lose here.
9:44pm: Is Palin qualified to be president? Obama: I'll leave it up to the American people. Translation: I'm not touching that one with a ten foot pole.
9:43pm: Sorry, I got interrupted during the Biden explanation. I'll watched that back later.
9:39pm: Moving on...
Question: People involved in either administration. Starting with the running mates.
9:36pm: ACORN has been a topic here recently. Obama flat-out denies any link between his campaign and the organization.
9:35pm: Obama is trying to work back to the issues. I don't know that this segment has helped either candidate. See, negative campaigning hurts both candidates. Oh, and McCain brings up both Bill Ayers and ACORN.
9:34pm: Yeah, this is silly now. Move on Schieffer.
9:31pm: Wow! We are definitely in the internet age. The "kill him" comments have come to the debates. I like this line of questioning, but I don't know that it necessarily have a place in a high-profile debate. I don't know. Maybe that's just a preference.
9:30pm: Are comparisons in ads the same as negative ads? That one from McCain is on thin ice.
9:28pm: "100% of your ads are negative, John." Obama does seem to take the high road here. He can afford to as the candidate in the lead. He also brushes off the town hall argument before moving on to the "turn the page" comments from the McCain campaign.
9:26pm: And here are the John Lewis comments. McCain was hurt by them and by Obama's lack of a repudiation. And on to the pledge to not opt out of public financing.
9:25pm: Ooh, negative campaigning question. McCain seems to think town halls would have cured it all. I don't think I follow. Seems pretty clear cut to me. The one behind in the polls has to go on the attack.
9:24pm: "I've opposed the Bush administration. I have the scars to prove it." And he calls out Obama on his statements about standing up to the leaders of his party.
9:20pm: Balance the budget? "Senator Obama, I am not president Bush. If you wanted to take him on you should have run four years ago." Indeed. Pursed lips from Obama. He recognizes the offensive from McCain but really doesn't seem to like it.
9:18pm: McCain is definitely on the offensive. Ooh, and there's the projector again. Jon Stewart just last night talked about Republicans not supporting McCain because he recycles (speeches). He's recycling the projector now. Oh, he's not alone.
9:17pm: Schieffer is after them on this one. Well, someone should answer these spending questions. Ah, there's the hatchet.
...from McCain? "Some people will call that a hatchet, then I'll get out the scalpel."
9:16pm: Profligate ways? Well, that went over Joe Sixpack's head.
9:15pm: Obama's up first. Pay-go elicits a smile from McCain. Are we going to work our way back to the scalpel/hatchet line? Third time's the charm they say.
9:14pm: New Question: Deficit adding. This will be good.
9:12pm: Is it me or is McCain playing with fire by continually jumping in on Obama? Or does he get the benefit of the doubt because he has to be on the offensive?
9:11pm: Redistributing the wealth. Is the class warfare argument going to work in this current environment? The McCain campaign has been going that route recently. The media won't let you hear because they're too focused on Bill Ayers. Obama is shaking his head at this. He seems moderately exasperated.
9:08pm: Is Joe the Plumber the real Joe Sixpack?
9:07pm: Schieffer: "Would you like to ask him a question?"
McCain: "Uh no."
9:06pm: Split screens are making it really difficult to follow. McCain is blinking like the next one will be his last. Very distracting. Maybe this is his way of attacking Obama.
9:04pm: I stand corrected...again. Split screens on C-SPAN. They listened to my request. This message brought to you by C-SPAN.
9:03pm: Wow! Who would have though? The economy leads us off.
9:00pm: We're about to get underway here.
7:46pm: Live from the Hofstra University annex in Athens, GA -- talk about distance learning -- it's the FHQ live blog of the third and final presidential debate of 2008. Three weeks from tonight the campaign will have been over for nearly a day -- assuming everything is on the up and up as far as recounts and the like are concerned -- and that means that after this evening we will have dipped into the teens for the numbers of days left. [I'm already nostalgic. Can we hit reset and do it all over again? I see a hand raised in the McCain section. Do I have a second? Seeing none, other than everyone here associated with the McCain campaign raising both hands, we'll move on.]
What can we expect tonight in New York? Well, dare I say McCain needs a game-changing performance? Nah. In fact, I pledge to avoid that word in all its derivatives this evening. To say that the Arizona senator has to alter the dynamic of the race at this point would be to utter one of the contenders for understatement of the year. For the second debate in a row, though, McCain is up against it because of the format. Tonight's debate is a sit down affair (It is this time, I swear.), and that makes McCain's efforts to go on the attack more difficult simply because of the conversational tone these types of debates take on.
We are a little more than an hour away, so let's sit back and prepare for our last go-round on the debate ride for 2008. I'll be back shortly. And once again, I'll be following the festivities on C-SPAN. I doubt they'll have split screen coverage during a sit down debate, but I'll start there in the hopes that they will.
Breaking: Florida to Turn Blue
The Electoral College Map (10/15/08)
How Big a Margin is Too Big to Make Up?