September 26th, 2008
10:41 PM ET
14 years ago

Gergen: No Clear Winner


Watch: McCain and Obama's differing viewpoints on the conflict in Iraq.

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!

soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Phoenix

    Why aren't people mentioning that McCain got an international leader's name wrong?

    September 26, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  2. Julie, VA

    Are you serious?

    Were you watching the same debate. I'm an independent voter, female. This was a no brainer. Obama showed himself to have a strong handle on foreign policy. His ideas about policy are much more informed than McCain. McCain made no sense tonight. He was floundering.

    This was clearly NOT a tie. Obama hit it out of the park. Look at your own analyst scorecard. Why are you all finessing this???!!!

    September 26, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  3. Democrat Voting For McCain !!!

    McCain , Wooped Obama Big Time Tonight . Obama Didn't Do Well At All , He Looked Lost For Words Most of The Time , And Very Angry . Especially When John McCain Talked About Coruption And 900 Million + In Earmarks Obama Took .

    McCain/ Palin 2008

    September 26, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  4. Susan in Colorado

    I was very impressed with Sen. Obama. He was truly speaking for the common folk. McCain had 8 years to clarify his position and he's sided with Bush 98% of the time. McCain will say and do anything now to attract a vote.


    September 26, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  5. Thomas

    I don't understand how anyone could think Obama won

    September 26, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  6. Rob Crawford

    If you watched the CNN graph, when Obama was speaking, all 3 groups (Republicans, Democrats, and independents) went up. If you watched when McCain was speaking, Republicans went up, but Independents were all over, and democrats went down. This was at best like the home team winning when they were supposed to, but I suspect it was more like the away team taking the first home game. McCain was behind, and I think Republicans got a whole lot less uneasy with the idea of President Obama.

    September 26, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  7. Chris from STL

    I would give a "C' to McCain ... I expected a lot more from this older and experienced man in foreign policy. However, I also would give Obama a "C" ... I expected a lot more fresh and clear cut ideas because he is touting 'change'

    September 26, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  8. Terry, Independent from Texas

    If tonight were my first night seeing either of these candidates, there was only one who came out on top, only one who stood firm, looked the other straight in the eyes,only one who was knowledgeable on all subject matter...... That candidate was clearly Sen. Obama.

    I could only say WOW, what a man.

    September 26, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  9. John

    Sounds as if Maggie is the only one with any sense on this blog.

    September 26, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  10. O.o

    Mccain was campaigning not debating and this takes away from him actually addressing the issues. It was a resume and name dropping. WE NEED SOME ANSWERS!! AND HE NEEDS TO HAVE SOME EYE CONTACT!!! LIAR

    September 26, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  11. Lillie

    I was surprised to see McCain actually show up. last I heard, he felt it unnecessary.


    September 26, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  12. Di

    It seemed McCain was "talking down" to Obama when several time he stated "you don't understand". That certainly doesn't encourage good will nor does it build consensus across party lines. I was offended by that tone and attitude.

    September 26, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  13. Tomato Chick8

    I thought McCain was the stronger one here – his experience in foreign policy will win him this election. Sorry if I disappoint every here (as I know you are mostly for Obama), but this is what I see.

    September 26, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  14. angelo

    obama clearly won because he answered all the questions, and also, he looked mccain in the eye, mccain is so afraid of obama he cant even look him in the eye, mccain came off proudful, boastrous, and im tired of hearing about his army days, i did this, i did that, what are you going to do now, he also kept saying obama lacks this and lacks that, mccain you lack the simple courtesy of looking someone in the face, mccain no way no how never

    September 26, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  15. Bob (NC)

    If Obama is looking this much older than just a year ago and it's only the election... I'm not sure how he'll hold up in the White House.

    Obama looked very uncomfortable.

    September 26, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  16. Independent, white female !

    I actually feel that Obama was the winner tonight. Obama stood tall, confident, held his own against Mccain who was supposedly so much stronger in the foreign policy department, but I thought Obama was very strong, knowlegable and had much better judgement and plans to lead our country in the future. I also think Obama was very respectful, obviously willing to treat John Mccain with respect, as anyone should to another colleague, but Mccain was very arrogant, never looked at Obama once and talked down to his colleague. Not a very nice thing to do. I really enjoyed the fact that Obama kept connecting our security with our energy independence and our economy. Obama won hands down!

    September 26, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  17. Kimberly

    I saw an angry, rattled Obama and very calm McCain. I think McCain clearly won BUT I guess it matters which news channel you watch. If it is CNN it is always for Obama. I am one of the many (millions) registered Democrats not voting for Obama.

    September 26, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  18. Darrell

    I agree it is hard to pick a winner.There however is no question McCain represents the past and Obama represents the future.If you like the ways ofthe past you like McCain and if you are mainstream and want a more diplomatic future you would like Obama.MCCain was elitist not even looking at Obama and sying far too many times "Obama does not understand" and that did not make him look good.Obama prooved without a doubt he knows foreign policy and we expected McCain would.Lots of stump speech from McCain.Obama used his own words.

    September 26, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  19. Ryan

    As an undecided voter and an Iraq vet, the comments that Obama made about talking to our adversaries really resonated with me, because when we took the time to talk to the Iraqis, our progress was always better than when just showing up and kicking down doors. While I agreed with some of McCain's points, I really disliked how he treated Obama on stage by being condescending and never looking to make eye contact with him.

    September 26, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  20. HG

    I wasn't wowed tonight. Both sounded like how they have sounded all along. No surprises. Lots of lies & smoke & mirrors from McCain as always.

    I was concerned that McCain's references & examples of experience tonight would make it challenging for Obama. But honestly, as I was listening to him, I had a thought, "These are really OLD examples." They made him sound old. And it's the same thing we've heard for YEARS from Republicans. More fear mongering & war war war. I was pleasantly surprised to have the adverse reaction though about McCain's expression of his experience tonight. I thought I'd be bummed, but I really just had the image and thought "old" when he'd bring up Vietnam and Eisenhower (realizing he wasn't referencing his experience in Ike years). Anyway, I thought Obama did very well on foreign policy.

    September 26, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  21. Rock-E

    Obama wins this one. The reason...military and foreign policy is McCain's bread and butter. If you can't clearly win the debate on the two subjects that you are know for; how the heck are you going to win the presidency. Obama wins just because he didn't come out and lay an egg tonight. Someone please explain to me how "the expectations for McCain are low" when these two subjects are what he is know for. And please, McCain did nothing while in Washington the last few days other than take up space.

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  22. Barney

    Why are you censoring me?

    I disagree Gergen.

    Obama thoughtful and INTELLIGENT

    McCain belittled and spoke of war war war war with that gleam in his eye. McCain scares me. No diplomacy – ready, fire, aim

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  23. Thinking Voter

    Clearly McCain won the debate. It boggles the mind to see how many people can fall for media hype and a hollow suit. Come on dems, use your brains. I know it will hurt at first just like any other atrophied muscle, but it will get better.

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  24. ines

    My take on the debate:

    McCain = Bush = Bravado and the past. Lied about Kissinger

    Obama = A solid new direction and excellent judgement

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  25. Mike in Seattle

    My lord, McCain really did look old tonight. I am actually beginning to be a little concerned for his health.

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
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