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First Presidential Debate - John McCain (R) and Barack Obama (D)

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The first presidential debate will be held Friday, September 26th, at the University of Mississippi. This 8:00 p.m. debate is something you won't want to miss. Foreign policy and national security issues will be discussed.

 

Before the Debate:

 

Invite neighbors, colleagues, and friends to your upcoming DebateWatch at least a week or two in advance.

Ask participants to arrive 20-30 minutes prior to the debate to get acquainted and discuss the evening's events.

If participants do not know each other, consider making nametags.

 

Night of the Debate:

 

Arrange the room so everyone can see the television easily. Supply pens and paper for notes if you wish.

Once everyone is settled, have people introduce themselves.

Turn the TV on until shortly before the debate begins but leave the volume off until it actually starts.

 

After the Debate:

 

Turn the TV off when the debate ends – before the post-debate commentators start talking – and take a short break.

If there are more than 12 in your group, break into smaller groups for discussions.

Remind everyone that this is a shared discussion and that there are no right or wrong opinions.

Follow the suggested questions below or raise your own. Encourage group members to also ask questions.

After about an hour – or when the discussion naturally ends – give everyone a chance to make any last comments and then wrap up.

 

Debate Discussion Questions

 

What did you learn about the candidates or issues that you did not know prior to the debate?

What topics or issues discussed in the debates were most useful or informative?

Were there any issues raised that you considered irrelevant or unimportant?

What issues would you like to see discussed in subsequent debates?

Edited by wiley

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Guest Team Pickens

Make sure to keep an ear out for what the candidates have to say—and don’t have to say—about America’s energy policy, especially the problem of foreign oil.

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John McCain is asking Barack Obama to suspend the upcoming debate, so the two senators can go to Washington and help with the bailout legislation.

 

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It's very gutsy and Senator McCain is RIGHT. http://www.rte.ie/news/2008/0924/uselection.html

 

Irrelevant if the democrats like it or not, and I hope that the democrats decide to play politics with this economic crisis.

 

VERY,VERY,VERY WELL DONE JOHN MCCAIN. <To heck with whom ever thinks that this is political.

I didn't much like John McCain till NOW.

 

NO ONE now can say that McCain didn't put country FIRST.>

 

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John McCain is asking Barack Obama to suspend the upcoming debate, so the two senators can go to Washington and help with the bailout legislation.

 

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I think this was a brilliant move by the McCain camp. Either way, John McCain looks like the leader by taking the initiative.

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Obama rejected McCain's proposal, saying it's ``more important than ever'' for the candidates to tell voters how they would deal with the crisis. He said they can address issues in Congress while campaigning. ``It is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once,'' Obama said.

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Guest Toby Heaps

Statement from Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr on McCain's Call to Delay Debates:

 

The fact that a candidate can call for changing the date of the debate only two days before it is scheduled indicates how easy it would be for the candidates to also call for the inclusion of the leading third party and independent candidates, which would bring fresh ideas to the table on how our country can truly tackle this heavy challenge.

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David Letterman exposed John McCain for what he really is... A BIG FAT LIAR!!! McCain is destroying the honor of the American flag just like George Bush.

 

Letterman told the audience during the taping of Wednesday's show that McCain had called him personally to apologize for bailing. According to Letterman, McCain said he couldn't appear because he was rushing to the airport to get back to Washington.

 

But midway through the broadcast, Letterman appeared to learn that the Arizona senator was actually still in New York. In fact, McCain was just a few blocks away, at the CBS News headquarters. He was preparing for a last-minute exclusive interview with Katie Couric.

 

Incredulous, Letterman interrupted his interview with Keith Olbermann (who had filled in as a substitute guest for McCain) to show the audience a live shot on the internal CBS News feed of a makeup artist putting the finishing touches on McCain while he waited to talk to Couric.

 

“He doesn’t seem to be racing to the airport, does he?” Letterman said, shouting at the television monitor: “Hey, John, I got a question! You need a ride to the airport?”

 

 

View the video at YouTube.

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Guest Scott Warner

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is moving forward with its plan for the first presidential debate at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. this Friday, September 26. The plans for this forum have been underway for more than a year and a half. The CPD’s mission is to provide a forum in which the American public has an opportunity to hear the leading candidates for the president of the United States debate the critical issues facing the nation. We believe the public will be well served by having all of the debates go forward as scheduled.

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Guest American for Progress

Asked by reporters "if McCain's announcement is more about politics than a desire to help with the bailout plan," Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) replied, "There is politics in everything you do." Though some conservatives welcomed the political cover provided by McCain's move, others were not pleased at the thought of McCain's hand in the negotiations. "Asked by reporters if he wanted McCain sitting in blow-by-blow negotiations, Rep. Adam Putnam, the No. 3 House Republican, simply smirked, mute for 10 seconds as reporters laughed," writes Time's Jay Newton-Small. Democrats were even less pleased with McCain. "It would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Some felt that McCain was seeking to steal credit for a deal that was already being worked out. "All of a sudden, now that we're on the verge to make a deal, John McCain airdrops himself in to help us make a deal?," said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA).

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Guest human_*

McCain is still a Senator; he has a commitment to his constituents as well.

Apparently obama doesn't have the same type of commitment to his constituents. Things that make me go hummm!!!

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Guest Obama For America

I believe that we should continue to have the debate. I think that it makes sense for us to present ourselves before the American people, to talk about the nature of the problems that we're having in our financial system, to talk about how it relates to our global standing in the world, what implications it has for our national security, how it relates to critical questions, like the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've both got big planes. We've painted our slogans on the sides of them. They can get us from Washington, D.C., to Mississippi fairly quickly.

 

 

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Guest LAW_*
McCain is still a Senator; he has a commitment to his constituents as well.

Apparently obama doesn't have the same type of commitment to his constituents. Things that make me go hummm!!!

 

If Senator McCain can't handle multitasking these two things together and attend the debate, then that is proof positive he doesn't have the capacity to lead this nation. It is far more important for Americans to hear how he will respond as the president in a situation like this. McCain's a maverick because he lacks the brand of a leader.

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Guest Toby Heaps

NADER CALLS MCCAIN'S MOVE TO POSTPONE DEBATE 'POLITICAL STUNT;' SAYS MCCAIN TO BLAME FOR FINANCIAL CRISIS

 

Senator John McCain's decision to suspend his campaign and participation in the first presidential debate is pure and simple showboating. The Washington DC bailout by Bush and his Congressional allies of the Wall Street crooks and speculators is not dependent on Senator McCain's return to Washington.

 

He has been an advocate of the deregulation that caused this debacle and offers nothing significant to address it. However, tens of millions of Americans depended on Senator McCain to show up at Friday's debate in Old Mississippi.

 

They expected him to do so and have arranged their plans to watch him interact with Barack Obama. By turning his back on at least 50 million American voters anticipating Friday's debate, he has dishonored his commitment and undermined the respect which he hoped the American people would accord him during his presidential campaign.

 

I urge him to restore his honor and self-respect by ending this political stunt and maturely fulfilling his commitment on the presidential debate stage this Friday.

 

Should he choose to maintain his present, impulsive course and leave an empty chair on the stage, I would be most pleased to take his place as the number three Presidential candidate in the race.

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Guest Will J.

Leadership is stepping up and knocking heads so to speak to get intransigable people to sit down and hammer out a compramise. If any of you that are saying this is not something that requires the sole attention of our leadership on bothsides of the isle i hope that you dont know anyone in construction,realestate,automotive or other big ticket items that require credit.then when all of those people arnt making any money i hope you all dont work in service industrires as if a large part of the workforce is not employed then it will affect us all.THIS COUNTRY RUNS ON CRFEDIT WITHOUT IT WE COME TO A GRINDING HALT.

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Looks the debate is on again. The McCain campaign has sent out this statement:

 

John McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign was made in the hopes that politics could be set aside to address our economic crisis.

 

In response, Americans saw a familiar spectacle in Washington. At a moment of crisis that threatened the economic security of American families, Washington played the blame game rather than work together to find a solution that would avert a collapse of financial markets without squandering hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ money to bailout bankers and brokers who bet their fortunes on unsafe lending practices.

 

Both parties in both houses of Congress and the administration needed to come together to find a solution that would deserve the trust of the American people. And while there were attempts to do that, much of yesterday was spent fighting over who would get the credit for a deal and who would get the blame for failure. There was no deal or offer yesterday that had a majority of support in Congress. There was no deal yesterday that included adequate protections for the taxpayers. It is not enough to cut deals behind closed doors and then try to force it on the rest of Congress -- especially when it amounts to thousands of dollars for every American family.

 

The difference between Barack Obama and John McCain was apparent during the White House meeting yesterday where Barack Obama’s priority was political posturing in his opening monologue defending the package as it stands. John McCain listened to all sides so he could help focus the debate on finding a bipartisan resolution that is in the interest of taxpayers and homeowners. The Democratic interests stood together in opposition to an agreement that would accommodate additional taxpayer protections.

 

Senator McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House. He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Representative Blunt as a designated negotiator for House Republicans. The McCain campaign is resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon. Following the debate, he will return to Washington to ensure that all voices and interests are represented in the final agreement, especially those of taxpayers and homeowners.

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Tonight the world watched the first presidential debate. Veteran PBS news anchor, Jim Lehrer hosted the event on the campus of the University of Mississippi. I thought both candidates were very formidable on responding to each other.

 

I would give both candidates failing grades on their response on what is transpiring on the Bailout. Neither said anything new or gave clarity on this most important issue.

 

I give Jim Lehrer high marks on trying to press the issue.

 

Barack Obama stated that he may have to postpone parts of his alternative energy plan. John McCain stated that he would freeze the budget and cut unnecessary defense programs.

 

Barack Obama stated he would create a nationalized health care program. John McCain stated that he did not like the idea of the federal government running our health care system.

 

John McCain stated that Obama has wasted 18 billion dollars in earmarks. Obama stated that McCain would give a 300 billion dollar tax cut to the wealthy.

 

John McCain got his point of that he has more experience in foreign policy issues. Barack Obama got his point that we need to broaden our country's focus from just Iraq to events happening in the rest of the world.

 

John McCain made the point that Obama would allow the leaders of countries to sit down at the negotiating table without preconditions. Obama said that McCain's advisor, former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, stated that our government should sit down at the table with our enemies with no preconditions. McCain rebutted and stated that Kissinger did not mean the President. Obama rebutted that he understood what Henry Kissinger meant and he would not sit down at the table with leaders of rogue countries until formal talks had begun.

 

Obama stated that McCain's support of the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. John McCain stated that Obama decision not to support the troop surge in Iraq was a mistake.

 

One issue that is very close to me is alternative energy. Obama stated that John McCain has voted against alternative fuels 23 times in his Senate career. McCain rebutted that Senator Obama's statement was not true. That he has always supported alternative energy and that everyone from Arizona supports alternative energy. I will have to research McCain's statement. I do know that Senator McCain has missed every Senate vote on alternative energy this year.

 

For those of you that missed it here is the transcript

 

 

LEHRER: Gentlemen, at this very moment tonight, where do you stand on the financial recovery plan?

 

First response to you, Senator Obama. You have two minutes.

 

OBAMA: Well, thank you very much, Jim, and thanks to the commission and the University of Mississippi, "Ole Miss," for hosting us tonight. I can't think of a more important time for us to talk about the future of the country.

 

You know, we are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is involved in two wars, and we are going through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

 

And although we've heard a lot about Wall Street, those of you on Main Street I think have been struggling for a while, and you recognize that this could have an impact on all sectors of the economy.

 

And you're wondering, how's it going to affect me? How's it going to affect my job? How's it going to affect my house? How's it going to affect my retirement savings or my ability to send my children to college?

 

So we have to move swiftly, and we have to move wisely. And I've put forward a series of proposals that make sure that we protect taxpayers as we engage in this important rescue effort.

 

No. 1, we've got to make sure that we've got oversight over this whole process; $700 billion, potentially, is a lot of money.

 

No. 2, we've got to make sure that taxpayers, when they are putting their money at risk, have the possibility of getting that money back and gains, if the market -- and when the market returns.

 

No. 3, we've got to make sure that none of that money is going to pad CEO bank accounts or to promote golden parachutes.

 

And, No. 4, we've got to make sure that we're helping homeowners, because the root problem here has to do with the foreclosures that are taking place all across the country.

 

f failed economic policies promoted by George Bush, supported by Senator McCain, a theory that basically says that we can shred regulations and consumer protections and give more and more to the most, and somehow prosperity will trickle down.

 

It hasn't worked. And I think that the fundamentals of the economy have to be measured by whether or not the middle class is getting a fair shake. That's why I'm running for president, and that's what I hope we're going to be talking about tonight.

 

LEHRER: Senator McCain, two minutes.

 

MCCAIN: Well, thank you, Jim. And thanks to everybody.

 

And I do have a sad note tonight. Senator Kennedy is in the hospital. He's a dear and beloved friend to all of us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the lion of the Senate.

 

I also want to thank the University of Mississippi for hosting us tonight.

 

And, Jim, I -- I've been not feeling too great about a lot of things lately. So have a lot of Americans who are facing challenges. But I'm feeling a little better tonight, and I'll tell you why.

 

Because as we're here tonight in this debate, we are seeing, for the first time in a long time, Republicans and Democrats together, sitting down, trying to work out a solution to this fiscal crisis that we're in.

 

And have no doubt about the magnitude of this crisis. And we're not talking about failure of institutions on Wall Street. We're talking about failures on Main Street, and people who will lose their jobs, and their credits, and their homes, if we don't fix the greatest fiscal crisis, probably in -- certainly in our time, and I've been around a little while.

 

But the point is -- the point is, we have finally seen Republicans and Democrats sitting down and negotiating together and coming up with a package.

 

This package has transparency in it. It has to have accountability and oversight. It has to have options for loans to failing businesses, rather than the government taking over those loans. We have to -- it has to have a package with a number of other essential elements to it.

 

And, yes, I went back to Washington, and I met with my Republicans in the House of Representatives. And they weren't part of the negotiations, and I understand that. And it was the House Republicans that decided that they would be part of the solution to this problem.

 

But I want to emphasize one point to all Americans tonight. This isn't the beginning of the end of this crisis. This is the end of the beginning, if we come out with a package that will keep these institutions stable.

 

And we've got a lot of work to do. And we've got to create jobs. And one of the areas, of course, is to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.

 

LEHRER: All right, let's go back to my question. How do you all stand on the recovery plan? And talk to each other about it. We've got five minutes. We can negotiate a deal right here.

 

But, I mean, are you -- do you favor this plan, Senator Obama, and you, Senator McCain? Do you -- are you in favor of this plan?

 

OBAMA: We haven't seen the language yet. And I do think that there's constructive work being done out there. So, for the viewers who are watching, I am optimistic about the capacity of us to come together with a plan.

 

The question, I think, that we have to ask ourselves is, how did we get into this situation in the first place?

 

Two years ago, I warned that, because of the subprime lending mess, because of the lax regulation, that we were potentially going to have a problem and tried to stop some of the abuses in mortgages that were taking place at the time.

 

Last year, I wrote to the secretary of the Treasury to make sure that he understood the magnitude of this problem and to call on him to bring all the stakeholders together to try to deal with it.

 

So -- so the question, I think, that we've got to ask ourselves is, yes, we've got to solve this problem short term. And we are going to have to intervene; there's no doubt about that.

 

But we're also going to have to look at, how is it that we shredded so many regulations? We did not set up a 21st-century regulatory framework to deal with these problems. And that in part has to do with an economic philosophy that says that regulation is always bad.

 

LEHRER: Are you going to vote for the plan, Senator McCain?

 

MCCAIN: I -- I hope so. And I...

 

LEHRER: As a United States senator...

 

MCCAIN: Sure.

 

LEHRER: ... you're going to vote for the plan?

 

MCCAIN: Sure. But -- but let me -- let me point out, I also warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and warned about corporate greed and excess, and CEO pay, and all that. A lot of us saw this train wreck coming.

 

But there's also the issue of responsibility. You've mentioned President Dwight David Eisenhower. President Eisenhower, on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letters.

 

One of them was a letter congratulating the great members of the military and allies that had conducted and succeeded in the greatest invasion in history, still to this day, and forever.

 

And he wrote out another letter, and that was a letter of resignation from the United States Army for the failure of the landings at Normandy.

 

Somehow we've lost that accountability. I've been heavily criticized because I called for the resignation of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. We've got to start also holding people accountable, and we've got to reward people who succeed.

 

But somehow in Washington today -- and I'm afraid on Wall Street -- greed is rewarded, excess is rewarded, and corruption -- or certainly failure to carry out our responsibility is rewarded.

 

As president of the United States, people are going to be held accountable in my administration. And I promise you that that will happen.

 

LEHRER: Do you have something directly to say, Senator Obama, to Senator McCain about what he just said?

 

OBAMA: Well, I think Senator McCain's absolutely right that we need more responsibility, but we need it not just when there's a crisis. I mean, we've had years in which the reigning economic ideology has been what's good for Wall Street, but not what's good for Main Street.

 

And there are folks out there who've been struggling before this crisis took place. And that's why it's so important, as we solve this short-term problem, that we look at some of the underlying issues that have led to wages and incomes for ordinary Americans to go down, the -- a health care system that is broken, energy policies that are not working, because, you know, 10 days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound.

 

LEHRER: Say it directly to him.

 

OBAMA: I do not think that they are.

 

LEHRER: Say it directly to him.

 

OBAMA: Well, the -- John, 10 days ago, you said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. And...

 

MCCAIN: Are you afraid I couldn't hear him?

 

LEHRER: I'm just determined to get you all to talk to each other. I'm going to try.

 

OBAMA: The -- and I just fundamentally disagree. And unless we are holding ourselves accountable day in, day out, not just when there's a crisis for folks who have power and influence and can hire lobbyists, but for the nurse, the teacher, the police officer, who, frankly, at the end of each month, they've got a little financial crisis going on.

 

They're having to take out extra debt just to make their mortgage payments. We haven't been paying attention to them. And if you look at our tax policies, it's a classic example.

 

LEHRER: So, Senator McCain, do you agree with what Senator Obama just said? And, if you don't, tell him what you disagree with.

 

MCCAIN: No, I -- look, we've got to fix the system. We've got fundamental problems in the system. And Main Street is paying a penalty for the excesses and greed in Washington, D.C., and on Wall Street.

 

So there's no doubt that we have a long way to go. And, obviously, stricter interpretation and consolidation of the various regulatory agencies that weren't doing their job, that has brought on this crisis.

 

But I have a fundamental belief in the goodness and strength of the American worker. And the American worker is the most productive, the most innovative. America is still the greatest producer, exporter and importer.

 

But we've got to get through these times, but I have a fundamental belief in the United States of America. And I still believe, under the right leadership, our best days are ahead of us.

 

LEHRER: All right, let's go to the next lead question, which is essentially following up on this same subject.

 

And you get two minutes to begin with, Senator McCain. And using your word "fundamental," are there fundamental differences between your approach and Senator Obama's approach to what you would do as president to lead this country out of the financial crisis?

 

MCCAIN: Well, the first thing we have to do is get spending under control in Washington. It's completely out of control. It's gone -- we have now presided over the largest increase in the size of government since the Great Society.

 

We Republicans came to power to change government, and government changed us. And the -- the worst symptom on this disease is what my friend, Tom Coburn, calls earmarking as a gateway drug, because it's a gateway. It's a gateway to out-of-control spending and corruption.

 

And we have former members of Congress now residing in federal prison because of the evils of this earmarking and pork-barrel spending.

 

You know, we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue, but the fact is that it was $3 million of our taxpayers' money. And it has got to be brought under control.

 

As president of the United States, I want to assure you, I've got a pen. This one's kind of old. I've got a pen, and I'm going to veto every single spending bill that comes across my desk. I will make them famous. You will know their names.

 

Now, Senator Obama, you wanted to know one of the differences. a million dollars for every day that he's been in the United States Senate.

 

I suggest that people go up on the Web site of Citizens Against Government Waste, and they'll look at those projects.

 

That kind of thing is not the way to rein in runaway spending in Washington, D.C. That's one of the fundamental differences that Senator Obama and I have.

 

LEHRER: Senator Obama, two minutes.

 

OBAMA: Well, Senator McCain is absolutely right that the earmarks process has been abused, which is why I suspended any requests for my home state, whether it was for senior centers or what have you, until we cleaned it up.

 

And he's also right that oftentimes lobbyists and special interests are the ones that are introducing these kinds of requests, although that wasn't the case with me.

 

But let's be clear: Earmarks account for $18 billion in last year's budget. Senator McCain is proposing -- and this is a fundamental difference between us -- $300 billion in tax cuts to some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country, $300 billion.

 

Now, $18 billion is important; $300 billion is really important.

 

And in his tax plan, you would have CEOs of Fortune 500 companies getting an average of $700,000 in reduced taxes, while leaving 100 million Americans out.

 

So my attitude is, we've got to grow the economy from the bottom up. What I've called for is a tax cut for 95 percent of working families, 95 percent.

 

And that means that the ordinary American out there who's collecting a paycheck every day, they've got a little extra money to be able to buy a computer for their kid, to fill up on this gas that is killing them.

 

And over time, that, I think, is going to be a better recipe for economic growth than the -- the policies of President Bush that John McCain wants to -- wants to follow.

 

LEHRER: Senator McCain?

 

MCCAIN: Well, again, I don't mean to go back and forth, but he...

 

LEHRER: No, that's fine.

 

MCCAIN: Senator Obama suspended those requests for pork-barrel projects after he was running for president of the United States. He didn't happen to see that light during the first three years as a member of the United States Senate, $932 million in requests.

 

Maybe to Senator Obama it's not a lot of money. But the point is that -- you see, I hear this all the time. "It's only $18 billion." Do you know that it's tripled in the last five years? Do you know that it's gone completely out of control to the point where it corrupts people? It corrupts people.

 

That's why we have, as I said, people under federal indictment and charges. It's a system that's got to be cleaned up.

 

I have fought against it my career. I have fought against it. I was called the sheriff, by the -- one of the senior members of the Appropriations Committee. I didn't win Miss Congeniality in the United States Senate.

 

Now, Senator Obama didn't mention that, along with his tax cuts, he is also proposing some $800 billion in new spending on new programs.

 

Now, that's a fundamental difference between myself and Senator Obama. I want to cut spending. I want to keep taxes low. The worst thing we could do in this economic climate is to raise people's taxes.

 

OBAMA: I -- I don't know where John is getting his figures. Let's just be clear.

 

What I do is I close corporate loopholes, stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas so that we're giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States. I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage.

 

I think those are pretty important priorities. And I pay for every dime of it.

 

But let's go back to the original point. John, nobody is denying that $18 billion is important. And, absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.

 

But the fact is that eliminating earmarks alone is not a recipe for how we're going to get the middle class back on track.

 

OBAMA: And when you look at your tax policies that are directed primarily at those who are doing well, and you are neglecting people who are really struggling right now, I think that is a continuation of the last eight years, and we can't afford another four.

 

LEHRER: Respond directly to him about that, to Senator Obama about that, about the -- he's made it twice now, about your tax -- your policies about tax cuts.

 

MCCAIN: Well -- well, let me give you an example of what Senator Obama finds objectionable, the business tax.

 

Right now, the United States of American business pays the second-highest business taxes in the world, 35 percent. Ireland pays 11 percent.

 

Now, if you're a business person, and you can locate any place in the world, then, obviously, if you go to the country where it's 11 percent tax versus 35 percent, you're going to be able to create jobs, increase your business, make more investment, et cetera.

 

I want to cut that business tax. I want to cut it so that businesses will remain in -- in the United States of America and create jobs.

 

But, again, I want to return. It's a lot more than $18 billion in pork-barrel spending. I can tell you, it's rife. It's throughout.

 

The United States Senate will take up a continuing resolution tomorrow or the next day, sometime next week, with 2,000 -- 2,000 -- look at them, my friends. Look at them. You'll be appalled.

 

And Senator Obama is a recent convert, after requesting $932 million worth of pork-barrel spending projects.

 

So the point is, I want people to have tax cuts. I want every family to have a $5,000 refundable tax credit so they can go out and purchase their own health care. I want to double the dividend from $3,500 to $7,000 for every dependent child in America.

 

I know that the worst thing we could possibly do is to raise taxes on anybody, and a lot of people might be interested in Senator Obama's definition of "rich."

 

LEHRER: Senator Obama, you have a question for Senator McCain on that?

 

OBAMA: Well, let me just make a couple of points.

 

LEHRER: All right.

 

OBAMA: My definition -- here's what I can tell the American people: 95 percent of you will get a tax cut. And if you make less than $250,000, less than a quarter-million dollars a year, then you will not see one dime's worth of tax increase.

 

Now, John mentioned the fact that business taxes on paper are high in this country, and he's absolutely right. Here's the problem: There are so many loopholes that have been written into the tax code, oftentimes with support of Senator McCain, that we actually see our businesses pay effectively one of the lowest tax rates in the world.

 

And what that means, then, is that there are people out there who are working every day, who are not getting a tax cut, and you want to give them more.

 

It's not like you want to close the loopholes. You just want to add an additional tax cut over the loopholes. And that's a problem.

 

Just one last point I want to make, since Senator McCain talked about providing a $5,000 health credit. Now, what he doesn't tell you is that he intends to, for the first time in history, tax health benefits.

 

So you may end up getting a $5,000 tax credit. Here's the only problem: Your employer now has to pay taxes on the health care that you're getting from your employer. And if you end up losing your health care from your employer, you've got to go out on the open market and try to buy it.

 

It is not a good deal for the American people. But it's an example of this notion that the market can always solve everything and that the less regulation we have, the better off we're going to be.

 

MCCAIN: Well, you know, let me just...

 

LEHRER: We've got to go to another lead question.

 

MCCAIN: I know we have to, but this is a classic example of walking the walk and talking the talk.

 

We had an energy bill before the United States Senate. It was festooned with Christmas tree ornaments. It had all kinds of breaks for the oil companies, I mean, billions of dollars worth. I voted against it; Senator Obama voted for it.

 

OBAMA: John, you want to give oil companies another $4 billion.

 

MCCAIN: You've got to look at our record. You've got to look at our records. That's the important thing.

 

Who fought against wasteful and earmark spending? Who has been the person who has tried to keep spending under control?

 

Who's the person who has believed that the best thing for America is -- is to have a tax system that is fundamentally fair? And I've fought to simplify it, and I have proposals to simplify it.

 

Let's give every American a choice: two tax brackets, generous dividends, and, two -- and let Americans choose whether they want the -- the existing tax code or they want a new tax code.

 

And so, again, look at the record, particularly the energy bill. But, again, Senator Obama has shifted on a number of occasions. He has voted in the United States Senate to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year.

 

OBAMA: That's not true, John. That's not true.

 

MCCAIN: And that's just a fact. Again, you can look it up.

 

OBAMA: Look, it's just not true. And if we want to talk about oil company profits, under your tax plan, John -- this is undeniable -- oil companies would get an additional $4 billion in tax breaks.

 

Now, look, we all would love to lower taxes on everybody. But here's the problem: If we are giving them to oil companies, then that means that there are those who are not going to be getting them. And...

 

MCCAIN: With all due respect, you already gave them to the oil companies.

 

OBAMA: No, but, John, the fact of the matter is, is that I was opposed to those tax breaks, tried to strip them out. We've got an emergency bill on the Senate floor right now that contains some good stuff, some stuff you want, including drilling off-shore, but you're opposed to it because it would strip away those tax breaks that have gone to oil companies.

 

LEHRER: All right. All right, speaking of things that both of you want, another lead question, and it has to do with the rescue -- the financial rescue thing that we started -- started asking about.

 

And what -- and the first answer is to you, Senator Obama. As president, as a result of whatever financial rescue plan comes about and the billion, $700 billion, whatever it is it's going to cost, what are you going to have to give up, in terms of the priorities that you would bring as president of the United States, as a result of having to pay for the financial rescue plan?

 

OBAMA: Well, there are a range of things that are probably going to have to be delayed. We don't yet know what our tax revenues are going to be. The economy is slowing down, so it's hard to anticipate right now what the budget is going to look like next year.

 

But there's no doubt that we're not going to be able to do everything that I think needs to be done. There are some things that I think have to be done.

 

We have to have energy independence, so I've put forward a plan to make sure that, in 10 years' time, we have freed ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil by increasing production at home, but most importantly by starting to invest in alternative energy, solar, wind, biodiesel, making sure that we're developing the fuel-efficient cars of the future right here in the United States, in Ohio and Michigan, instead of Japan and South Korea.

 

We have to fix our health care system, which is putting an enormous burden on families. Just -- a report just came out that the average deductible went up 30 percent on American families.

 

They are getting crushed, and many of them are going bankrupt as a consequence of health care. I'm meeting folks all over the country. We have to do that now, because it will actually make our businesses and our families better off.

 

The third thing we have to do is we've got to make sure that we're competing in education. We've got to invest in science and technology. China had a space launch and a space walk. We've got to make sure that our children are keeping pace in math and in science.

 

And one of the things I think we have to do is make sure that college is affordable for every young person in America.

 

And I also think that we're going to have to rebuild our infrastructure, which is falling behind, our roads, our bridges, but also broadband lines that reach into rural communities.

 

Also, making sure that we have a new electricity grid to get the alternative energy to population centers that are using them.

 

So there are some -- some things that we've got to do structurally to make sure that we can compete in this global economy. We can't shortchange those things. We've got to eliminate programs that don't work, and we've got to make sure that the programs that we do have are more efficient and cost less.

 

LEHRER: Are you -- what priorities would you adjust, as president, Senator McCain, because of the -- because of the financial bailout cost?

 

MCCAIN: Look, we, no matter what, we've got to cut spending. We have -- as I said, we've let government get completely out of control.

 

Senator Obama has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate. It's hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left.

 

The point -- the point is -- the point is, we need to examine every agency of government.

 

First of all, by the way, I'd eliminate ethanol subsidies. I oppose ethanol subsidies.

 

I think that we have to return -- particularly in defense spending, which is the largest part of our appropriations -- we have to do away with cost-plus contracts. We now have defense systems that the costs are completely out of control.

 

We tried to build a little ship called the Littoral Combat Ship that was supposed to cost $140 million, ended up costing $400 million, and we still haven't done it.

 

So we need to have fixed-cost contracts. We need very badly to understand that defense spending is very important and vital, particularly in the new challenges we face in the world, but we have to get a lot of the cost overruns under control.

 

I know how to do that.

 

MCCAIN: I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion by fighting a contract that was negotiated between Boeing and DOD that was completely wrong. And we fixed it and we killed it and the people ended up in federal prison so I know how to do this because I've been involved these issues for many, many years. But I think that we have to examine every agency of government and find out those that are doing their job and keep them and find out those that aren't and eliminate them and we'll have to scrub every agency of government.

 

LEHRER: But if I hear the two of you correctly neither one of you is suggesting any major changes in what you want to do as president as a result of the financial bailout? Is that what you're saying?

 

OBAMA: No. As I said before, Jim, there are going to be things that end up having to be ...

 

LEHRER: Like what?

 

OBAMA: ... deferred and delayed. Well, look, I want to make sure that we are investing in energy in order to free ourselves from the dependence on foreign oil. That is a big project. That is a multi-year project.

 

LEHRER: Not willing to give that up?

 

OBAMA: Not willing to give up the need to do it but there may be individual components that we can't do. But John is right we have to make cuts. We right now give $15 billion every year as subsidies to private insurers under the Medicare system. Doesn't work any better through the private insurers. They just skim off $15 billion. That was a give away and part of the reason is because lobbyists are able to shape how Medicare works.

 

They did it on the Medicaid prescription drug bill and we have to change the culture. Tom -- or John mentioned me being wildly liberal. Mostly that's just me opposing George Bush's wrong headed policies since I've been in Congress but I think it is that it is also important to recognize I work with Tom Coburn, the most conservative, one of the most conservative Republicans who John already mentioned to set up what we call a Google for government saying we'll list every dollar of federal spending to make sure that the taxpayer can take a look and see who, in fact, is promoting some of these spending projects that John's been railing about.

 

LEHRER: What I'm trying to get at this is this. Excuse me if I may, senator. Trying to get at that you all -- one of you is going to be the president of the United States come January. At the -- in the middle of a huge financial crisis that is yet to be resolved. And what I'm trying to get at is how this is going to affect you not in very specific -- small ways but in major ways and the approach to take as to the presidency.

 

MCCAIN: How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs.

 

LEHRER: Spending freeze?

 

MCCAIN: I think we ought to seriously consider with the exceptions the caring of veterans national defense and several other vital issues.

 

LEHRER: Would you go for that?

 

OBAMA: The problem with a spending freeze is you're using a hatchet where you need a scalpel. There are some programs that are very important that are under funded. I went to increase early childhood education and the notion that we should freeze that when there may be, for example, this Medicare subsidy doesn't make sense.

 

Let me tell you another place to look for some savings. We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus. It seems to me that if we're going to be strong at home as well as strong abroad, that we have to look at bringing that war to a close.

 

MCCAIN: Look, we are sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don't like us very much. Some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations. We have to have wind, tide, solar, natural gas, flex fuel cars and all that but we also have to have offshore drilling and we also have to have nuclear power.

 

Senator Obama opposes both storing and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. You can't get there from here and the fact is that we can create 700,000 jobs by building constructing 45 new nuclear power plants by the year 2030. Nuclear power is not only important as far as eliminating our dependence on foreign oil but it's also responsibility as far as climate change is concerned and the issue I have been involved in for many, many years and I'm proud of the work of the work that I've done there along with President Clinton.

 

LEHRER: Before we go to another lead question. Let me figure out a way to ask the same question in a slightly different way here. Are you -- are you willing to acknowledge both of you that this financial crisis is going to affect the way you rule the country as president of the United States beyond the kinds of things that you have already -- I mean, is it a major move? Is it going to have a major affect?

 

OBAMA: There's no doubt it will affect our budgets. There is no doubt about it. Not only -- Even if we get all $700 billion back, let's assume the markets recover, we' holding assets long enough that eventually taxpayers get it back and that happened during the Great Depression when Roosevelt purchased a whole bunch of homes, over time, home values went back up and in fact government made a profit. If we're lucky and do it right, that could potentially happen but in the short term there's an outlay and we may not see that money for a while.

 

And because of the economy's slowing down, I think we can also expect less tax revenue so there's no doubt that as president I'm go doing have to make some tough decision.

 

The only point I want to make is this, that in order to make the tough decisions we have to know what our values are and who we're fighting for and our priorities and if we are spending $300 billion on tax cuts for people who don't need them and weren't even asking for them, and we are leaving out health care which is crushing on people all across the country, then I think we have made a bad decision and I want to make sure we're not shortchanging our long term priorities.

 

MCCAIN: Well, I want to make sure we're not handing the health care system over to the federal government which is basically what would ultimately happen with Senator Obama's health care plan. I want the families to make decisions between themselves and their doctors. Not the federal government. Look. We have to obviously cut spending. I have fought to cut spending. Senator Obama has $800 billion in new spending programs. I would suggest he start by canceling some of those new spending program that he has.

 

We can't I think adjust spending around to take care of the very much needed programs, including taking care of our veterans but I also want to say again a healthy economy with low taxes would not raising anyone's taxes is probably the best recipe for eventually having our economy recover.

 

And spending restraint has got to be a vital part of that. And the reason, one of the major reasons why we're in the difficulties we are in today is because spending got out of control. We owe China $500 billion. And spending, I know, can be brought under control because I have fought against excessive spending my entire career. And I got plans to reduce and eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending and if there's anybody here who thinks there aren't agencies of government where spending can be cut and their budgets slashed they have not spent a lot of time in Washington.

 

OBAMA: I just want to make this point, Jim. John, it's been your president who you said you agreed with 90 percent of the time who presided over this increase in spending. This orgy of spending and enormous deficits you voted for almost all of his budgets. So to stand here and after eight years and say that you're going to lead on controlling spending and, you know, balancing our tax cuts so that they help middle class families when over the last eight years that hasn't happened I think just is, you know, kind of hard to swallow.

 

LEHRER: Quick response to Senator Obama.

 

MCCAIN: It's well-known that I have not been elected Miss Congeniality in the United States Senate nor with the administration. I have opposed the president on spending, on climate change, on torture of prisoner, on - on Guantanamo Bay. On a -- on the way that the Iraq War was conducted. I have a long record and the American people know me very well and that is independent and a maverick of the Senate and I'm happy to say that I've got a partner that's a good maverick along with me now.

 

LEHRER: All right. Let's go another subject. Lead question, two minutes to you, senator McCain. Much has been said about the lessons of Vietnam. What do you see as the lessons of Iraq?

 

MCCAIN: I think the lessons of Iraq are very clear that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict. Our initial military success, we went in to Baghdad and everybody celebrated. And then the war was very badly mishandled. I went to Iraq in 2003 and came back and said, we've got to change this strategy. This strategy requires additional troops, it requires a fundamental change in strategy and I fought for it. And finally, we came up with a great general and a strategy that has succeeded.

 

This strategy has succeeded. And we are winning in Iraq. And we will come home with victory and with honor. And that withdrawal is the result of every counterinsurgency that succeeds.

Edited by wiley

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I would have debated the Budweiser sale to the Nazis. Think of how many jobs are going to be lost. Think of all the profits of beer that will be lost when our economy goes down the drain. Our nation should bailout Anheuser-Busch. Maybe we should nationalize it. Then we would have free beer and the nation would be happy. God Bless us all.

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One more thing Senator McCain. Quit blinking so much. It makes me nervous. Oh, Senator Obama you are beginning to take on the appearance of that black vulcan on Star Trek.

Edited by Sen. Blutarsky

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Guest rb56

According to a CNN-Opinion Research Corp. survey of adults people like Obama over Mccain by a margin of 51% to 38%. I noticed his blinking too.

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Guest Dave's Not Here

McCain had his head down all the time. It was obvious that he was rolling through cue cards to find the right answer. Obama looked up at the audience and McCain everytime he answered.

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Guest Hungry Owl
I would have debated the Budweiser sale to the Nazis. Think of how many jobs are going to be lost. Think of all the profits of beer that will be lost when our economy goes down the drain. Our nation should bailout Anheuser-Busch. Maybe we should nationalize it. Then we would have free beer and the nation would be happy. God Bless us all.

 

Be careful what you wish for. We all might just get paid in beer when the banks collapse. Our checks will be soon be made into recycled cups to drink from.

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Here is the video of the first 2008 Presidential debate between Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

 

 

Edited by Luke_Wilbur

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