- One of the things that Obama needed to do is simply sound presidential. He sounded very statesmanlike. You can disagree with him, but he looked "ready for primetime".
- Obama clearly engaged McCain. Often speaking to him directly. When McCain spoke he watched McCain speak. This was important to me. Against Clinton he appeared to defer and be unwilling to make eye contact and calmly but directly confront her. He corrected this mistake in the debate with McCain. Obama appeared to even be a stronger leader than in the primary campaigns. I less doubts he can directly deal with world leaders after this discussion.
- Obama clearly won when talking about winning the war in Afganistan.
- When he called out McCain for his "bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb IRAN.
- At one point he went through a litany of how McCain was wrong on Iraq before the surge. McCain had no clear response.
- He was not clear how he was going to cut spending in light of the current financial crisis. He appeared as if he was not going to change anything.
- He gave to much credit to McCain on points of agreement. When they agree he should have said, "Senator McCain agrees with me."
- Obama kept interupting with finger in the air. This appeared like the teachers pet in class
- Some of his one liners were good--"I looked into Putin's eyes and I saw three letters KGB"
- McCain effectively switched the financial crisis stuff to a discussion about earmarks.
- Over and over again, McCain kept going back to the past. He refused to engage the future. In the live tracking, even Republicans became less interested in what McCain was saying when he started reviewing his resume. He seems to act like he should inherit the presidency instead of win it.
- Often he refused to directly engage Obama. He refused to make eye contact. He looked away. Despite his history as a brave soldier, this made McCain look mousy and cowardly. At times when Obama directly confronted him he would look down, then look and the screen and shift his feet. This made him look like he was a child in trouble trying to appeal to everyone around him for support.
- Too much name dropping.
- At times, McCain looked like he was a grumpy old man scolded the little kid Obama.
- At times, McCain got tangled up in his talking points. He then was confusing at points.
- When McCain said objectionable things, Barack tended to laugh and shake his head. This works for him in that it is better than setting his jaw and lifting his chin. In other words, he avoided the "angry black man stereotype." And that is important in courting older independent white voters. But he did not avoid the elitist imagery. It was not a "Gore sigh", but it was not helpful in some ways.
- I thought the candidates tied on Iraq. McCain and Obama both made their points clearly. No new points were made. No new minds changed.
Overall, I thought Obama won. If for no other reason than he was forward looking and McCain seemed to have few new ideas and a long resume. Hillary tried that gambit and it failed.