September 27th, 2008
01:24 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain, Obama fight for title of 'most qualified'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sens. McCain and Obama went head to head Friday night in their first presidential debate."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In their first head-to-head debate, Sen. John McCain criticized Sen. Barack Obama as a candidate who "doesn't understand" the key issues the country faces, and Obama linked McCain to President Bush on several issues.

"I'm afraid Sen. Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy," McCain said Friday as the two traded jabs over Iraq.

Obama shot back, "I absolutely understand the difference between tactics and strategy. And the strategic question that the president has to ask is not whether or not we are employing a particular approach in the country once we have made the decision to be there."

McCain drew from his experience overseas as he tried to portray himself as the more qualified candidate.

"Incredibly, incredibly Sen. Obama didn't go to Iraq for 900 days and never asked for a meeting with Gen. [David] Petraeus," he said.

McCain slammed Obama for not supporting the surge, an increase of about 30,000 troops to Iraq in early 2007. Bush sent the additional troops as part of a campaign to pacify Baghdad and its surrounding provinces.

"John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007," Obama shot back. "You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong."

Full story

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Rachel

    If I was an undecided voter which I am not I would not consider voting for John McCain so the polls do not surprise me. Barack Obama came across as a caring leader with the conviction to do the right thing to better our country. John McCain does not represent what we need at this time and would not make a good president. Too erratic and seems like he could blow up at any minute. I thought he was going to lose it for sure. He looked uncomfortable and he was very rude to Barack Obama. No eye contact. Is he the best choice for president? No. Barack Obama will be a better leader for the USA.

    September 27, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
1 2 3