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. Nia Hussein - Phoenix, AZ

    BS! Obama did better then mcKeatingFive...could he have been a bit tighter with his punches yes but they were thrown and felt as well as not agreeing with mcWarNow so much. John was a light weight and often fumbled. He was all in the past and using his talking points.

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  2. BC

    Did Obama say anything? McCain showed he was experienced and knew the world from first hand knowledge. Obama was vague and showed that he knows the world from what he was told (and read). I do not trust obama. He has spent most of his senate time running for President and voting present....not voting one way or the other. McCain may be old....but at least he is not a person with no proven background or history. Obama summed it up "Senator McCain you are right"!!

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  3. Larry

    Well when one candidate keeps saying (8 times):
    "John McCain is absolutely right...."
    I think it is easy to say who "won".

    And when one candidate misrepresents what Henry Kissinger actually said about negotiating with Iran – followed shortly after the debate with Kissinger saying he and McCain agree totally on the issue of not having high level negotiations, without preconditions, with Iran....
    Well – it's hard to say Obama "won".

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  4. barbara campbell

    Most interesting was how, during political commentary following the debate, Anderson Cooper interrupted almost every time someone made a strong point in Obama's favor.

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  5. BJ

    The debate was tied.

    But I prefer McCain economically, and the Republicans generally when it comes to the "bailout" scenario on Wall Street. The Dems want to give a house to every Tom, Dick and Harry in this country. I prefer that the ones who had no business buying a house in the first place, don't deserve to get bailed out. It's very simple, IF you qualify then you deserve credit, if not, then work for it till you do.

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  6. TEXAN

    OBAMA is change, McCain is not change, he is corporate america-Bush adminstration just reworded. Do Republicans really think we are so stupid and uneducated that we just go by what the news and campaigns say. Educate yourself and learn that McCain is not what America needs, OBAMA is CHANGE, he represents average Americans, not old wealth, not filthy rich wealth that owns several millions $ properties...

    Obama came out strong in this debate, McCain couldnt even give him the dignity to look at him when he was being addressed and McCain just went around his lies. Dont just blog vote OBAMA.

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  7. Bill

    McCain clearly won tonight – no doubt about it.

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  8. Big D

    I'd have to say that Obama won. One reason was that a tie goes to the challenger, and McCain is seen as the incumbent and this was supposed to be his strongest area. So if it's a tie, then Obama won. The other reason that Obama was is his point about taking a hatchet when you need a scalpel. That's McCain's problem both with economics and foreign policy. Obama showed that he has a deep understanding of the issues, and the judgement to use the right tool at the right time. McCain just barges in and uses a hatchet. Great job Obama!

    September 26, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  9. fedup

    Obama is the clear winner . John McCain had a few good momemt,s but he still living in the past!!!!

    September 26, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  10. Kate

    McCain refused to look at Obama even after the moderator asked them to speak to one another, and even when Obama was speaking to and looking directly at McCain. That was UNBELIEVABLY disrespectful. Obama has been chosen by the American people as one of two candidates for the position of the President of the USA, yet McCain treated him like a uppity Negro. Despicable. I am disgusted with McCain.

    September 26, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  11. Truly Ricky

    Barack kick the maverick out of Mccain. Biden will do the same on Thursday. I wonder where was the maverick in McCain tonight. McCain was never a maverick anyway. Which party was he a maverick for. Maybe his own party. Obama is ready to go.

    September 26, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  12. mark

    Obama was more diplomatic and that's what we need.....!!!!!!

    Obama/Biden '08!!

    September 26, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  13. Kris K from RM,CA

    Obama was a clear cut winner. He was current.concise,positive,honest. A solid performance.
    McCain looked angry, old, tired,confused,living in the past.
    It was so clear cut and evident. Obama is our future.
    Congratulations Obama.
    ps john, my friend, you don't understand.

    September 26, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  14. D Parker

    You guys got it wrong on the fact check regarding Obama's earlier debate with Clinton on meeting with leaders without preconditions. After Hillary gave her two cents on the subject, Obama came back and said that there would of course have to be preparation.

    September 26, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  15. Tiff of lithia springs

    I was impressed by Barack display overall. I am disappointed that McCain couldn't look and Obama. I don't know what to think about that. It could have been something to keep his temper from flaring. I hope he isn't prejudice.

    September 26, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  16. R. Cooper

    Clearly, Obama won! The commentary all agree when they said Obama "held his own." Interpretation: "Obama won!" and you all know it! Conversely, if you claim there was "no clear winner", that doesn't say a whole alot about McCain's 29 years of experience in the Senate versus Obama who just recently joined the Senate, now does it! Like I said, "Obama won!' All hail the chief, Obama!

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

    why am I being censored out? Because I disagree?

    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 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  18. Candice

    I would have to disagree with you David. I think Barack had a clear answer to both issues; enonomy and the war! Barack stated we need to be felt AROUND the world and not just focus on iraq! We've dropped the ball on ALL other things besides the war in iraq! Barack was very knowledgable on Forgein Affairs and KNEW all the leaders and the facts of each subject! McCain is the past... Barack is the future!!!

    September 26, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  19. Kris

    Being a independent/ usually always voting dem every time for president.I saw John McCain win this . I saw Obama get flustered over and over and look in the audience and look at someone as if to say what do I do next. I saw Obama/s hair getting grayer and grayer. I saw Obama cockyiness which I have always thought it will get him in big trouble. I would have like to ask Obama it was noted that you did support the war. but the 5 women who are advisors to you said if you do that we won't support you. and you said "I don't know if I can do that and they told him you will or we won't endorse him. Fact. So he didn't. This was McCain's night .

    September 26, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  20. doris welch

    in your dreams - Obama lost so bad and you know it - i uh, uh ,uh - he stammered through the entire debate - he would also stammer through the Presidency - change horses while you can - you used to speak for Republicans– its not too late

    September 26, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  21. LT for Obama

    Here is the thing, when you look at the SUBSTANCE, you will see that Obama used McCain's own words against him. McCain did not because he could not. McCain instead took shots and lied and when he was called on the lies, he continued to lie. McCain definately lost on many fronts tonight.

    Had McCain stayed on point and actually answered a couple of the questions instead of getting off topic, he would have definately had a much better night. He seemed more alert than usual. I wondered if he was on new meds or something.

    September 26, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    There was a clear winner. Obama. He didn't fumble, interrupt and laugh rudely, he showed poise and control. He showed judgment.

    McCain shows how quick he is to push that red button on that desk. Snap judgments = bad President.

    September 26, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  23. cecil

    Sen. Obama Won Tonight! Great Job.

    Remember America, McCain's Camp Claim Victory For This Debate 24 hrs Ago. Via Online Ad Wall Street Jounrnal! There Camp Claiming
    Sen. McCain Won Hands Down!. Had Picture and Text.

    How Dumb Was That!

    September 26, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  24. Amy in Minneapolis

    It really annoyed me that McCain would not look at Obama.

    September 26, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  25. Bob Indianapolis, IN


    And as far as the economy goes, Obama appealed to Main Street while McSame tried to lie about his record of corporate welfare for the rich!

    September 26, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
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