October 15th, 2008
11:05 PM ET
6 years ago

Gergen: Three in a row for Obama

John McCain had a very strong start in the first 30 minutes or so, and I thought that he was heading toward a debate victory - his first. But he veered off course in the middle as the conversation turned toward the negative quality of the campaign - and he became more and more the angry, older candidate, bringing back memories of the performance by Bob Dole back in 1996 that helped to doom his campaign. He also seemed to grow more tired over the course of the debate.

Barack Obama had a good first answer about his economic plan then seemed flat for the rest of the first half hour. But then things picked up for him. During the assaults by McCain, he kept his cool - he never took the bait (rumors were heavy before the debate that McCain would try to goad him into losing his steadiness). Coming out of that second half hour, Obama became much stronger in the last third of the debate, scoring extremely well on health care, education, abortion, and the Supreme Court.

McCain likely helped himself with his base tonight, but I doubt that he helped himself much with undecided voters.

Overall, I would score Obama at an A minus for the night, and McCain at a B plus.

It appears that Obama will come out of these debates with a general public perception that he has won three in a row.

PS: A hearty salute to tonight's moderator, Bob Schieffer, he deserves an A plus.


Filed under: Presidential Debate
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Peter of Oregon

    Why? Because McCain took the low road in an angry way. Obama focused on the issues, and defended his positions with the strength and honesty we didn't see from McCain.

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  2. Celestine

    Our next president won three in a row

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  3. Buffalo, NY

    McCain's anger, attitude, and body language will not help too restore our image to the rest of the world. Sen McCain proved that he is ill-tempered tonight, not a good quality for the "most important job in the world".

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  4. hary

    Barack kept himself very cool and clear. The closing remarks of Barack was superb. He said to american what he will do which Mc Cain failed to mention instead he talked about himself.

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  5. Hilary B

    Kudos to Bob. This was the best of all three debates. However, McCain's anger made me really uncomfortable. That and his disrespect towards Obama by interrupting him while he was trying to talk. He did that several times. And his facial expressions were ridiculous. Not very becoming of a person who is seeking the presidency.

    My vote remains for Obama.

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  6. WHO WON

    MediaCurves independents: Obama 60, McCain 30.

    CNN poll from the tee-vee: Obama 58, McCain 31.

    CBS undecideds: Obama 53, McCain 22.

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  7. Chris

    Totally agree!

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  8. GeeMac

    David,
    I agree with your analysis tonight but at first, felt it was closer to a tie early on however, McCain appeared to become more agitated, and frurstrated that he could not articulate his position better than Obama could. His personality is quite scary and projects someone who could fly off the handle at the slightest disagreement with his position.

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  9. Joe Plummer

    Next up – Nov 5th

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  10. Mike

    McCain is cementing the consevative base.

    Too bad he did that in the beginning of September and that the race depends on Independents, who clearly are favoring Obama.

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  11. Joshua

    McCain won, IMO. It seem like Obama was stuck in the last debate while McCain had moved on to new topics. Just my opinion though.

    October 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  12. Ray

    I agree, McCain is TOAST! He delivered an "angry old man" performance instead of discussing the issues. I've made up my mind now, I must vote for Obama. McCain is not ready! Too bad!

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  13. Rachel

    And you would be right David!

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  14. Murf

    A win goes to the leader in close debates. Sen. McCain did not land any convincing blows. This race is over. Senator Obama is the winner.

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  15. Smart

    Suprised? Obama is an intellect, articulative and a greater leader. McCain needs be tto be checked into an anger management program. He is not a leader..

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  16. lucy lu

    I think you are 100 % correct.

    We have just seen history in the making.

    As I always say "the best way to know what a person will be like as President is the way they act BEFORE they get the job."

    Obama showed that he is intellegent, graceful under fire, well- tempered and well-spoken, highly educated, and respectful. He is truly a man of the people and will represent us all when he accepts the job as President of the United States of America.

    Well done Barack – well done !

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  17. midwestrn grl_stl

    Obama obviously won......

    McCain huffed, puffed, rolled his eyes and sighed throughout the debate.

    McCaiin had absolutely no control over his emotions and reactions to Obamas comments.

    Obama was, as he always is....cool, calm and collected

    The publiic, through the polling of the debate...will let us all know who won....Obama

    3 for 3

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  18. Hopeful

    Obama was the victor in all 3 debates. He will be victorious on Election Day!

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  19. Boris Patkovic

    My praise to Bob Schieffer, also, for an outstanding job.

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  20. Judy March

    OBAMA WON THE DEBATES! McCain too negative, can't understand him, Obama will be a great Commander and Chief! I trust OBAMA!

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  21. Mimi

    GOBAMA, GOBAMA, GOBAMA
    3 in a row!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  22. TrishFromCanada

    Obviously we were watching different debates. I watched the one where Obama uhhhh uhhhh and uhhhh'd for a good portion and where he blatantly lied on his stance on late term abortion and health insurance. I guess it's a good thing the two uninsured women Obama talked about didn't seek medical help at the hospital Michelle is a VP in, she'd have refused them.

    McCain won this by a long shot.

    McCain knows his history, the american history is a part of McCain, for Obama its simply something he read about in a book. That makes a world of difference.

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  23. Joe H.

    Dear John,
    you lost me at Palin. You're just confirming my feelings with these debates. You're cranky, all over the map, condescending, and frankly, just not pleasant to be around.

    The fact that your actions so closely mirror your current president (and not your words, but let's face it, GW wanted to be 'a uniter, not a divider' as well) don't do you any favors.

    Signed,
    Independent (for Obama)

    October 15, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  24. john pinter

    David Gergen is right except he was too generous to McCain. McCain once again showed his anger and contempt for Obama and could not refrain from making comments and interrupting while OBama was answering the questions.

    October 15, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  25. jim

    i wouldn't give mccain a b+ personally more like a b-...he seemed angry and illogical the entire debate

    October 15, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
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