[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/26/art.mccain.bush.jpg caption="Does McCain almost always agree with Pres. Bush?."]
At a presidential debate Friday, September 26, in Oxford, Mississippi, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama attempted to tie Republican opponent Sen. John McCain to President Bush. "John, it's been your president, who you said you agreed with 90 percent of the time, who presided over this increase in spending," he said.
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OXFORD, Mississippi (CNN) – Senator John McCain dropped in on a vocal group of supporters near the University of Mississippi campus late Friday night after his face-off with rival Barack Obama, asking the crowd: “Do you think we showed them who's qualified to be commander-in-chief?”
McCain, joined by his wife Cindy and daughter Meghan, visited a debate watching party at the club Lyric on Oxford Square. A smiling McCain briefly addressed the crowd of about 1,000 backers, “I'm overwhelmed by your enthusiasm and support ,and I want to say that I thank you all for being here. I want to tell you that I will not let you down.”
He talked about his family’s roots in the state, and his time stationed at the Naval Air Station in Meridian. To loud cheers, he said, “I hope I made you proud tonight. I'm grateful for your friendship, I'm grateful for your support and I can't think of a better place to be than Oxford, Mississippi."
McCain then boarded the Straight Talk Express to drive 90 minutes to Memphis. He will fly back to Washington overnight.
OXFORD, Mississippi (CNN) – A national poll of people who watched the first presidential debate suggests that Barack Obama came out on top.
Fifty-one percent of those polled in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey of Americans who viewed the debate say that Obama won. Thirty-eight percent of those polled say that John McCain did the best job.
“According to our CNN survey, McCain and Obama both exceeded debate viewers’ expectations tonight,” noted CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib. “It can be reasonably concluded, especially after accounting for the slight Democratic bias in the survey, that we witnessed a tie in Mississippi tonight. But given the direction of the campaign over the last couple of weeks, a tie translates to a win for Obama. McCain is trailing right now; he needed a game changer. There are no indications he got that tonight.”
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/19/art.portman.gi.jpg caption="Rob Portman played the part of Obama in McCain's debate prep."]
OXFORD, Mississippi (CNN) - After days and days of denials that they had anyone playing Obama in debate prep sessions, two McCain campaign aides admitted to CNN they were using a stand-in for the Democratic nominee: former GOP congressman and OMB director Rob Portman.
Portman has been playing Obama in mock debates, including a two-hour session Thursday night in McCain's Virginia apartment, and one at an Oxford high school hours before tonight's debate.
Ironically, in 2000, Portman played Joe Lieberman in mock debates for then VP candidate Dick Cheney.
Now Lieberman is a close friend and supporter of McCain's, and a regular on the road with him.
OXFORD, Mississippi (CNN) - Awards so far for best upper cuts:
–Obama, questioning why McCain would object to going into Pakistan to get Al Qaeda, since he's someone who sings songs about bombing Iran. (he did once, months ago on the campaign trail, as a joke: "Bomb Bomb Bomb. Bomb Bomb Iran," sung to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann." Hasn't sung it since.)
Watch: Analyzing the debate
–McCain, explaining why he will not commit to meeting with the Head of Spain: because "I don't even have a seal yet" - a reference to an instance this summer when Obama's campaign put a presidential-like seal on his podium. Lots of ridicule resulted. The seal hasn't been seen since.
At a debate Friday, Sept. 26, in Oxford, Mississippi, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain attacked Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama's stance on the "surge" of troops in Iraq. "Senator Obama said the surge could not work, said it would increase sectarian violence, said it was doomed to failure," McCain said. "Recently on a television program, he said it exceeded our wildest expectations."
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/26/art.mccainvideo.cnn.jpg caption="The McCain campaign released a Web video featuring debate footage before the candidates left the stage."](CNN) - Before John McCain walked off the stage, his campaign already had a new Web video up featuring footage of the first debate – clips of Barack Obama agreeing with his Republican rival. On the McCain campaign Web site, spokesman Michael Goldfarb noted mid-debate that journalists were already describing that refrain as fodder for a new ad: “It's like they have the place bugged,” he said.
New York (CNN)–My bet is that Democrats will see this as an Obama victory and Republicans will say that McCain won - it was that kind of debate where there was no clear winner.
Watch: Sen. Joe Biden reacts to the debate
I would give each of the candidates an A- for the night. McCain started slow and sluggish on economic issues and then became steadily stronger as it moved into foreign affairs. He clearly has superior experience in international affairs. But Obama came strongly out of the gate, providing especially crisp answers on the bailout package, and I thought he held his own on foreign affairs.
The real question now is how undecided voters will come out. Stay tuned!
Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama shake hands with Jim Lehrer after Friday night's debate on foreign policy. (AP Photo)