Liveblogging Debate 3: 'Joe the Plumber' Can't Keep Obama From Debate Win

Barack Obama greets John McCain during the third presidential debate in the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at Hofstra University October 15, 2008 in Hempstead, New York. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images North America)

Given that last debate I was wrong about who won (I said McCain, the polls showed Obama), I think I'm on solid ground with my gut reaction this time. It seems pretty obvious that Obama seemed more poised and ready with answers while McCain was visibly frustrated, flustered and desperate.

Before you start reading, I might as well point out that I had NO IDEA who Joe the Plumber was before the debate. So go ahead and have a chuckle at my expense as you read my reaction to the buzz phrase of the debate.

McCain was clearly on the attack in this debate, making it the most lively of the three. It didn't seem to work to his advantage.

Who do you think won the debate? Vote here.

Who was the best moderator? Vote here.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Bob Scheiffer Sets the Tone

Bob Scheiffer and his evil eyebrows welcomed the candidates by bringing up the economic crisis.
He says if candidates don't question each other, he will.

I like the table better than the podiums. I wonder who this format benefits more. I guess McCain doesn't have to move around.
McCain says Americans are hurting and they're angry. He says there needs to be a short term and a long term fix. The short term fix is to buy people's mortgages.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Obama says 'focus on jobs'

Barack Obama has that aggressive look he had in the last debate. He says to fix the economy, we have to focus on jobs, fix our health care system, educational system, etc. No real specifics.

McCain is literally telling a story about a small business owner named Joe. Joe's last name wouldn't happen to be Sixpack would it? The story is about Joe the plumber who is afraid to expand his business because Obama will raise his taxes. These anecdotal stories don't work when people feel them to be innately false. McCain seemed to ramble at the end of his answer a little bit.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Joe the Plumber

OK so Barack Obama repeated the phrase "Joe the Plumber" then McCain said it a few more times. Drop it and move on.

Obama says his tax plan will actually cut taxes for most small businesses (those that make less than $250,000/yr) and allow them to employ more workers.

Obama brought up Warren Buffett for the second debate in a row. Is Buffett really in the running for Secretary of the Treasury? I wonder if he and Obama have discussed the topic.

Liveblogging Debate 3: How will you shore up the deficit?

Bob Shieffer isn't messin' around. He says both senators' proposals will plunge the United States even deeper in debt. How will they shore up the national debt?

Obama says he wants to go through the budget line-by-line. It sounds like he's talking about zero-base budgeting almost (an incredibly elaborate, time and money-consuming process). It's a radical idea, but I doubt it's something he would pursue too doggedly.

McCain says to reduce the national deficit, we need to become energy independent to prevent money from being sent overseas. Then we freeze spending. He was smart this time and anticipated Obama's attack from the last debate (Remember him saying that the freeze is "a hatchet" where "a scalpel is needed").

He also says he will line-item veto anything he considers pork barrel spending in the budget.

Liveblogging Debate 3: McCain & Obama Fight Over Tying McCain to Bush

John McCain is angry about being tied to the sinking ship that is the Bush administration and says if Obama wanted to run against Bush, he should have run four years ago.

Obama says McCain is four more years of Bush.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Attack Politics

Bob Schieffer called out the candidates on their negative campaign tactics.

McCain says things could have been kept clean if Obama had joined him in more town hall meetings. McCain points out that Obama has spent more money on negative campaign ads than any campaign in history.

Obama points out that 2/3 of those polled recently felt that McCain was running a negative campaign versus 1/3 who felt Obama was running a negative campaign.

Obama repeated his line from the last debate: "I don't mind being attacked for the next three weeks" if it means life will get better for the American people.

Either way you slice it, the campaign has obviously gotten nasty lately. Both of these candidates have dirty hands. Obama brought up the YouTube videos of the Palin rallies where people started yelling inappropriate things about Obama.

Liveblogging Debate 3: McCain Repeating Attack Ads in Debate


I thought McCain would be coming into this debate with a real campaign reboot.

Instead, he's pretty much repeating his latest attack ads about Obama's associations with William Ayers and ACORN.

For the first time, Obama is responding by completely explaining his relationship with William Ayers and ACORN.

McCain is looking frustrated and Obama is looking poised.

I'm very surprised to see McCain carry the attack ads into the debate. I thought he was looking to elevate the debate. This is bad. He's really shooting himself in the foot here.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Is Sarah Palin qualified to be President?

Bob Schieffer asked the question on everyone's mind: "Do you think she's qualified to be President?"

Obama took the high road here. He says it's up to the American people to decide. He did NOT bring up the corruption charges. That says to me that Obama feels like this election is his to lose and he doesn't want to go on the attack because it would change the tone of the debate.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Energy Dependence

McCain scoffs at people who say nuclear energy isn't safe.

McCain's message: Build the nuke plants!

Obama says we can't drill our way out of the problem. Put money into solar, wind, bio-diesel and build more fuel efficient cars.

Obama's message: Fuel efficiency bitches!

Liveblogging Debate 3: McCain Condescends

McCain: "I really love Senator Obama's eloquence." He goes on to say you have to dissect what Obama is saying because his words are misleading. He says Obama won't help us kick the foreign oil habit because he won't drill offshore.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Obama says green energy the driving force in the future economy

Obama says we have to help out the auto industry, but makes it conditional upon auto companies working to make cars more fuel efficient. He goes on to say that clean energy will be the driving force in our economy for most of the 21st century.

McCain doesn't bother arguing the point. He brings it back to Obama restricting trade, raising taxes and Obama's willingness to meet with Iran and North Korea. Wow he fit a lot of talking points into that little spin move. Too bad he stuttered through half of it.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Health Care answers booooring

When they get to talking about health care I just get bored.

I know. I know. Health care is really important and it's a big deal to voters, so they have to talk about it. But these guys are just repeating their canned responses. Maybe we need some more specific questions about health care to get these two squirming.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Holy crap, Joe the Plumber is a real guy

So I just found this video. Apparently Joe the Plumber is a real guy.


Liveblogging Debate 3: Both Candidates Contradict Selves on Supreme Court Choices

McCain says he wouldn't provide a litmus test, then says a judge who supports Roe v. Wade wouldn't meet his qualifications. Sounds like a litmust test to me.

Obama says he doesn't think a strict litmus test is wise, but goes on to explain why he would look for justices who support Roe v. Wade.


Why can't they both acknowledge that they have a Roe V. Wade litmus test for Supreme Court Justices and move on?

Liveblogging Debate 3: Getting an edumacation

Obama says education probably has more to do with future economic prosperity than any other issue.

Obama is the more trustworthy candidate here. I think it's in the realm of education that his experience as a community organizer helps him out. He's experienced at a grass-roots level. McCain, by comparison, seems more out of touch here than on any other issue.

He talks tough about regulating the educational system and supporting school vouchers. He sounds like an education system adversary whereas Obama sounds like someone who would work more closely with educators and administrators.

Liveblogging Debate 3: Wrapping it up

Well it looks like the fireworks are over and the two candidates are winding down now.

Bob Schieffer just told a national audience to visit, which redirects to a MySpace page. Huh. Seems kind of shady. I'm sure Rupert Murdoch is happy about that.

Well this is probably the most national attention McCain will receive before the elections. Is he begging for votes with his last few seconds in the debate? That's sure how it sounds.

Obama's closing statements are bringing things full circle. This sounds like the Obama from the opening of the Democratic primaries.

Obama wins.

McCain's campaign is dead in the water.

I really don't see how McCain can come back at this point.

  • Candidates Vie For Votes At Last Presidential Debate
  • Candidates Vie For Votes At Last Presidential Debate
  • Candidates Vie For Votes At Last Presidential Debate
  • Candidates Vie For Votes At Last Presidential Debate
  • Candidates Vie For Votes At Last Presidential Debate
  • Candidates Vie For Votes At Last Presidential Debate
  • Candidates Vie For Votes At Last Presidential Debate
  • Candidates Vie For Votes At Last Presidential Debate
I write about movies for, which means I spend way too much time thinking about the geekiest possible ways to approach the cineplex. I'm also hopelessly addicted to audio books. Follow me: Google