Posts Tagged ‘Debate’

Final Presidential Debate

October 16, 2008

The debate’s not yet over, but unless something absolutely wild happens in the waning minutes, Barack Obama won it — as Dick Cheney would say — big time.

John McCain finally levied his attacks against Obama to his face. He pushed the William Ayers issue and criticized Obama’s links to Acorn. Yet even in finally making these points, his style was off. He spent a lot of time on expressing hurt over John Lewis’s comments before deciding to stand by his campaign’s attacks on Obama. His response to Bob Schiefer’s question reflected a certain ambivalence on McCain’s part. If McCain truly made a conscious decision to go after Obama on these issues prior to the debate, it would be expected that McCain could raise and prosecute the attack in a comprehensible way. If he didn’t want to do it, he should have renounced it. Twenty days to an election is too late for a candidate to demonstrate ambivalence.

As a matter of rhetorical style, I’m a big believer in candidates and public figures knowing what they want to say prior to a big speech or event. They have to know — not just intellectually, but emotionally– what they believe and what they stand for. Handlers and aides are great for helping their principals sharpen their arguments and make their points more clear. But the candidates need to buy into it. If I had been advising McCain, I would have pressed him as far as possible behind-the-scenes. And if McCain really couldn’t do it, I would have recommended that McCain jetison that line of attack.

Half-hearted, backwards criticisms don’t work. For that reason, McCain lost this final debate.

The Bailout Plan: Points For Obama

October 8, 2008

I give a lot of credit to Barack Obama for explaining the rationale for the financial rescue plan in a straight forward way.

Post Debate Movement

September 29, 2008

I didn’t write-up a grandiose conclusion to Friday’s debate because I didn’t see anything game-changing taking place. Barack Obama held his own on what is supposed to be his weakest subject and John McCain’s strongest. Given the overall trend of voters toward Obama on the economy, that dynamic helps Obama.

Still, at this point, everything — and I mean everything — will hinge on external events. If the economic free fall, the election goes to Obama.

Gitell 7 a.m. Appearance on with Hank Morse with WTKK

September 27, 2008

I will be on WTKK with Hank Morse at 7 a.m. Charley Manning will be the other guest. The subject will be tonight’s debate.

Obama v. Hillary: Showdown in Philadelphia

April 15, 2008

Showdown in Philly


Philadelphia won’t be the City of Brotherly Love tomorrow night when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama debate for the first time in seven weeks. That last debate was a long time ago, some seven weeks, before Jeremiah Wright and before Obama called small town folk “bitter.”

This scenario holds a frightening prospect for Obama who is the favorite for the nomination but hasn’t put it away yet. Typically front-runners want to run out the clock. Plus, the debate will be televised on network television, which will lead to higher ratings than events on cable. “This debate could garner the most viewers of any of the debates — there have been more than 20 during the past year — according to a Northeastern University associate professor and expert on presidential debates, Alan Schroeder. Unlike most debates in this interminable election, which have been relegated to the backwaters of cable, tomorrow night’s discussion will be on network television, ABC, during prime time.”

Read my New York Sun column here.