Obama : Overall grade: A-
McCain: Overall: B-
Who did the best job tonight?
Who would better handle Iraq?
Who would better handle the economy?
Who won tonight’s debate?
Who got better tonight?
Who would make the right decisions about the economy?
9:40pm MSNBC Chris Matthews "Barack Obama, who kept agreeing with McCain over and over again…looked more presidential."
9:43pm MSNBC Buchanan "He did what he had to do in the sense he came off as a tough fellow, a counterpuncher."
9:40pm MSNBC Chris Matthews: "Obama Looked More Presidential"
9:45 PM CBS – Katie Couric: "The issue of meeting with Iranian officials without preconditions and Henry Kissinger’s position on that came up during my recent interview with Governor Sarah Palin. Now, after than interview I called Secretary Kissinger to clarify his position – he said he does support face-to-face talks with high-level officials in Iran without preconditions."
10:42 PM ABC - David Wright: "Obama, we saw him do 22 debates or so during the primary. He was much crisper tonight, he was much more on message."
10:45 PM FOX News – Juan Williams: "If we come back to the economic at the top, I’d have to give it to Barack Obama."
10:52 PM CNN- David Gergen: "I think John McCain needed a clear victory tonight. I think a tie was not in his interests. He is behind. This is his best subject night because the last night, they’re going to be talking about the economy. I think he needed a clear victory tonight. I think that eluded him, even as strong as he was, I think Bill Bennett is absolutely right… but I don’t think he walked out of here with a clear victory of the kind he needed."
CNN (Gloria Borger)- "I think you’d have to watch this debate, Anderson and say Obama held his own. He didn’t give an inch to McCain on the issues of talking with Iran."
CBS News (Ambinder) "Knowledge Network Undecideds Give Debate To Obama": According to CBS News / Knowledge Networks’ poll of undecided voters: 40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw. 68% of these voters think Obama would make the right decision about the economy. 41% think McCain would. 49% of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. 55% think McCain would.
Associated Press (Liz Sidoti) A night of contrasts This debate, primarily focused on foreign policy, was supposed to be McCain’s sweet spot; Obama held his own. "You were wrong" on Iraq, Obama repeated three times in succession as he pointedly looked his opponent in the eye. "John, you like to pretend the war began in 2007."
NY Daily News – "Final Verdict on Eight Years of Failed Economic Policies." After all those months of buildup, it took exactly 106 seconds for the gloves to come off, when Democrat Obama laid the blame for the current economic mess on Republican leadership in Washington. "This is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush [and] supported by John McCain," Obama said, taking direct aim at his GOP opponent… Obama seemed at ease in the early rounds as McCain struggled to find his feet.
Philly Daily News - Will Bunch blog: McCain "Needs a Knockout" … "Didn’t Get It Tonight." I think Obama held his own, which is what he needed to do. He clearly showed he was knowledgeable on foreign affairs, and made kind of silly the argument that Sarah Palin has more experience than he does. McCain was a lot more restrained than I would have expected. …McCain can’t afford to win on points. He needs a knockout. He didn’t get it tonight.
Denver Post PoliticsWest (John Andrews) Zinger at McCain - Obama landed a good jab with his reference to McCain "threatening extinction to North Korea" and "singing songs about bombing Iran." McCain: "I’m not going to set the White House visitors schedule before I’m president. I don’t even have a seal yet." Cute line at the Messiah’s expense, but it was wasted in this setting. Obama was impressive, agree with him or not, in his big picture statement near the end when he panned back from Iraq to talk about China, the economy, and the fate of empires in history. McCain for all his courage and honor didn’t paint on that kind of global canvas. More points scored into the Dem’s column.
Tampa Tribune (Blog) McCain’s Final Judgment: "Knowledge And Experience" McCain relied repeatedly on emotional but non-substantive or factually incorrect claims: That Obama "voted against funding the troops," wouldn’t declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorists, wants to increase taxes on people who make $42,000. But Obama’s vaunted eloquence, somewhat surprisingly, failed to overwhelm the nitpicking. The verdict: Probably a tie, which means McCain will probably hold his advantage on the issue. The future debates will be between the vice presidential contenders, and between McCain and Obama on domestic issues.
TNR Blog- Focus Groups, Undecideds For Obama: For what it’s worth: The Frank Luntz and Stanley Greenberg focus groups went overwhelmingly for Obama. And a CBS poll of undecideds went for Obama 40%-22%.10:48 PM ABC - George Stephanopoulos: "Barack Obama A minus, John McCain B plus….People wonder whether [Obama] has the experience to be President, to handle national security, and I think on answer after answer after answer, he showed confidence, he showed toughness and he showed he belonged on that stage."
11:51 PM ABC - George Stephanopoulos: And overall, bottom line, the winner is Barack Obama. He comes into this race where the country wants change, his number one goal was to show that he belonged on that stage…he could hold his own on national security, he did that tonight, he gets the win."
9:53 PM CBS – Myers: "Well, I think the one thing people were looking to, to see if Barack Obama could hold his own, could he sound like a commander in chief, did he have command of foreign policy issues, could he stand there toe-to-toe with John McCain and I think he passed that test with flying colors."
10:30 PM CNN-Gloria Borger- “He took it right to mccain on the tax issue and said to people out there, if you earn over 200 -- under $250,000 a year, nothing will happen to your taxes or you'll get a tax cut.”
10:51 PM PBS - Scott Horsley - "I think John McCain's conduct of economic policy over the last two days has to look a little erratic, has to look very seat of the pants, frankly."
10:54 PM ABC - George Will: "I think Barack Obama came out and looked comfortable and as though he belonged there. So, in a sense, the structure of the debate, indeed, the fact of the debate had to give a mild leg up to Barack Obama."
11:07 PM PBS-Mark Halperin - "I thought Obama clearly did better. I thought he had a chance to show that he was calm and prepared and capable of standing toe to toe with the more experienced McCain. I thought McCain spoke too much Washington jargon, told too many jokes in shorthand, made too many comments he knew what he meant but I don't think he conveyed it necessarily to the audience overall. I thought Obama was the better communicator an did what he needed to do to reassure people."
11:08 PM MSNBC-Richard Wolffe “That was the greatest contrast…the demeanor and the tone of voice that these candidates adopted where McCain was being much more pointed much more aggressive and curiously couldn’t look Obama in the eye. Obama’s tone much more straight and even keeled but ready to look his opponent in the eye repeatedly. A big contrast.”
Denver Post: Obama says he would send "two to three brigades" to Afghanistan. McCain implies that Obama is wet behind the ears on military matters. Obama retorts with perhaps his best line of the night because it critiques McCain's temperament. Obama says that McCain has previously referenced extinction for North Korea and sang songs about bombing Iran, "so I don't know how credible that is."
Washington Post (Robinson)-The Debate: The All-Important Grumpiness Factor: Here’s the politically incorrect way of phrasing one of the central questions about tonight’s presidential debate: Did John McCain come across as too much of a grumpy old man. That might not be a nice question, but it’s an important one. Americans like to vote for the nice guy, not the grumbling prophet of doom. Throughout the 90-minute debate, McCain seemed contemptuous of Obama. He wouldn’t look at him. He tried to belittle him whenever possible -- how many times did he work “Senator Obama just doesn’t understand” into his answers? His body language was closed, defensive, tense. McCain certainly succeeded in proving that he can be aggressive, but the aggression came with a smirk and a sneer.