[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/07/art.win.jpg caption="Polls suggests Obama has won tonight’s debate."]
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) - A national poll of debate watchers suggests that Barack Obama won the second presidential debate.
Fifty-four percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted after the debate ended said that Obama did the best job in the debate, with 30 percent saying John McCain performed better.
Watch: Debate analysis
A majority, 54 percent, said Obama seemed to be the stronger leader during the debate, to 43 percent for McCain. By a greater than two to one margin - 65 percent to 28 percent - viewers thought Obama was more likeable during the debate.
"Obama had made some gains on the leadership issue even before the debate," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "McCain's advantage on leadership shrunk from 19 points in September to just five points this weekend. If Obama can use this debate to convince Americans that he is a stronger leader than McCain, he may be difficult to defeat."
Watch: Reading the candidates' faces
A majority of debate watchers polled thought Obama was more intelligent, by a 57 percent to 25 percent margin over McCain. Twice as many debate watchers also thought Obama more clearly expressed than McCain, with 60 percent giving the nod to the Democratic nominee and 30 percent to his GOP opponent.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/07/presidential.debate/art.handshake.cnn.jpg caption="Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain meet for their second presidential debate."]
(CNN) - Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama went head-to-head on the economy, domestic policy and foreign affairs as they faced off in their second presidential debate.
The debate was set up like a town hall meeting, and the audience was made up of undecided voters.
The candidates spoke directly to each other at times, but at other times they spoke as if their opponent were not in the room.
The debate over foreign policy boiled down to who has the better judgment.
McCain said he knows how to handle foreign affairs and questioned Obama's ability to do so.
"My judgment is something that I think I have a record to stand on," McCain said.
McCain said the "challenge" facing a president considering using military force "is to know when to go in and when not."
Obama questioned McCain's judgment in supporting the invasion of Iraq.
"When Sen. McCain was cheerleading the president to go into Iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy - we would be greeted as liberators. That was the wrong judgment," he said.
Obama vowed to get Osama bin Laden and defeat al Qaeda.
"We will kill bin Laden, we will crush al Qaeda," he said.
Sen. John McCain, in a presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 7 in Nashville, Tennessee, said he "stood up" to President Reagan and opposed the deployment of U.S. Marines to Lebanon.
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.ap.mccain.debate1.jpg caption="Sen. McCain said Obama 'has voted 94 times' for higher taxes."]
Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain said at the Oct. 7 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, that Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama "has voted 94 times to either increase your taxes or against tax cuts. That's his record."
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/07/art.debate01.gi.jpg caption="McCain’s comment drew an immediate reaction from Obama’s campaign."](CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign immediately highlighted a singular moment in Tuesday's presidential debate when John McCain sought to criticize Barack Obama for supporting the 2007 Bush-Cheney energy bill:
"It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate, loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney," McCain said. "You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me."
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton immediately emailed reporters noting McCain's seemingly peculiar reference to the Illinois senator.
"Did John McCain just refer to Obama as 'that one?' Burton asked.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.palin01.ap.jpg caption="Palin visited reporters on the back of her campaign plane for the first time Tuesday."](CNN) - Shortly before John McCain and Barack Obama took the stage for the second presidential debate, Governor Palin ventured back behind the curtain that separates her from those who cover her every public move, accompanied by senior aides (and a campaign photographer, who chronicled the historic summit between the Republican vice presidential nominee and the reporters who trail her.)
Palin shook hands and chatted with journalists in the press section of her campaign plane. After a few minutes of niceties, it turned into an unscheduled press conference.
A few highlights from the rare question-and-answer session, which included comments on William Ayers, her husband’s decision to testify in the Alaska trooper investigation – and what she thinks of Tina Fey's Palin impression on Saturday Night Live - after the jump.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.ap.obama.debate1.jpg caption="Sen. McCain said Obama has never 'taken on' Democratic leaders."]
Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain said at the Oct. 7 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, that Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama has "never taken on his leaders of his party on a single issue."
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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/07/art.candidates.jpg caption="CNN Contributor David Gergen gives McCain a ‘B’ and Obama a ‘B+’"]
(CNN)–A few hits, some runs and no major errors - that was the way this second debate struck me. The format was far too confining so that neither candidate could answer in depth and viewers were left with a sense of disappointment that they hadn't heard enough about specifics. Too often, we heard the same arguments we heard in the last debate.
Watch: McCain, Obama explain why voters should trust them
John McCain was more effective on domestic issues than he was on the second debate but flatter on national security. Periodically, he made an excellent argument and he was more composed than earlier. Interestingly, he never went as negative as feared (e.g., he never talked - as Sarah Palin has on the stump - about the past associations of his opponent).
Barack Obama showed once again that he is more articulate and a better debater, able to weave together arguments and themes with great skill. Once again he was also steady. But he was hardly on fire and he didn't give us much more insight - or new ideas - about the economic crisis now gripping the country.
So, my scores tonight are lower than last week:
Obama B plus
Politically, this debate strikes me as good news for Obama and bad news for McCain. With two straight victories under his belt, Obama has established in the minds of many voters that he is as qualified to be President as McCain –and given the economy, that means he should have strengthened his position.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.scorecard.cnn.jpg caption="CNN analysts and contributors weigh in."]
(CNN) - The final tally is in. During the debate, six CNN analysts and contributors scored in real time the performances by both presidential candidates.
Watch: Candidate differ on diplomacy
The number next to the pluses suggests the candidate made a “good point” while the figures next to the minuses indicate “missed opportunities.” For example, in the end, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos gave the debate to Obama with 32 pluses and 4 negatives as opposed to McCain’s 28 pluses and 13 negatives.
Watch: 'Talk softly, carry a big stick,' McCain says
The other five contributors and analysts included Democratic strategist Paul Begala, Sr. Political Analysts Gloria Borger and David Gergen, Chief National Correspondent John King, and Senior Analyst Jeff Toobin.
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama said at the Oct. 7 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, "With respect to Fannie Mae, what Sen. McCain didn't mention is the fact that this bill that he talked about wasn't his own bill. He jumped on it a year after it had been introduced and
it never got passed."
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