NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Barack Obama and John McCain clashed repeatedly over the causes and cures for the worst economic crisis in 80 years Tuesday night. Both Democrat nominee Sen. Barack J. Obama (D-EU) and Republican candidate Sen. John McCain (D-AZ) spent 7-1/2 hours attacking the policies of the Bush Administration. Media observers, as well as viewers polled afterward, indicated the clear winner was President Bush.
Observer Olsen Johnson, of the nearby town of Rock Ridge, who describes himself as an independent, says neither Obama nor McCain resonated with him.
“Didn’t neither one of them fellas tell me a whole lot,” Johnson said. “They come up with all kinds of ways to spend my money, but neither said much about me keeping my money. I’m just tryin’ to figure out which one’s gonna leave me enough to buy groceries.”
“Olsen Johnson is right,” said observer Van Johnson. “They kept tellin’ me how much they wasn’t going to be like George Bush. But, you know what? At least, with George Bush, I know what I’m getting.”
Another viewer, who identified himself only as “Mongo,” summed up the feeling of most of the crowd, saying, “Mongo only pawn in game of life.”
Polling conducted in the hours following the debate showed dramatic losses by both the McCain and Obama camps. Each candidate is now hovering between 20 and 23% support. President Bush gained dramatically by his performance in the debate, with his support just under 30%.
“The only way anyone could win a debate with these two is to not show up,” said Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer. “McCain nearly won the first debate with this strategy, but showed up at the last minute. With both candidates running against President Bush, it paved the path for Bush to take the lead in this race.”
If Bush maintains his lead, Republicans would consider it a third term for the 43rd president. However, because the Democrats don’t recognize Bush’s win in 2000, a victory in November would give Bush his 2nd term.