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Liveblogging the Last Presidential Debate of 2008
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It begins at 9pm Eastern.

Liberal Beltway fixture Bob Schieffer moderates. I noted in 2004 that he asked a question about immigration during one of the 2004 debates. Wouldn’t it be novel if the subject finally came up tonight? Not that the La Raza twins would differ much. I’m not the only one who wants to hear some border talk. The Plumber Joe Wurzelbach mentioned it, too.

Got your ACORN martinis, ready?

Drinking game buzz words:













Commenter Jencab: “You forgot…”







9:02pm Eastern. Schieffer starts right off the bad with the Dow plunge today. Why is your plan better than his?

McCain: Americans are hurting and they’re angry. Their innocent victims of GREED and WALL STREET.

Drink, drink, drink up.

McCain: They are hurting and they’re angry.

Ok, we get it.

Now, he’s promoting home ownership and preservation at any cost. Pitches his rotten individual mortgage rescue plan. “Put home owners first.”

McCain criticizes Paulson for “not making it their first priority.”

Only superficial mention of Fannie/Freddie.

I repeat what I said earlier today: Hey, chumps: Why are you still paying your mortgages?

Obama: RESCUE package for the MIDDLE CLASS.

My glass is half-empty already.


Gulp again.

Obama: Sen. McCain, I AGREE with helping homeowners.

Glass is empty.

McCain brings up The Plumber: Joe, I wanna tell ya. I want to keep your taxes low, affordable health care, I will not stand for tax increases on small business income. What you want to do to Joe the plumber is…have them not live the American Dream.

Obama brings up his 95 percent tax cut fantasy.

McCain blasts Obama for his “spread the wealth around” ideology. I want Joe the Plumber to spread the wealth around. Why would you want to increase anyone’s taxes right now? I’m not going to do that in my administration.

Obama invokes his friend, billionaire Warren Buffett in response.

Not such a bright move there, Barry.

We’re talking about a plumber and Obama leans on one of the richest men in the world as a crutch?

McCain: We need to cut people’s taxes, create jobs, not “spread the wealth around.”

Good. He drove that nail.

9:14pm Eastern. Schieffer asks what specific programs the candidates would cut.

Obama has been blabbing for two minutes without naming anything specific. Blahblahblahblah. He’s talking about making “investments” to prevent diseases.

He STILL hasn’t mentioned a single program.

9:16pm Eastern. McCain should have nailed Obama immediately for failing to name a single program he would cut, but he wants to return to the home ownership/prevention crap. Increasing home values. Blahblahblah. McCain segues into energy independence.

Finally, an answer.

McCain: What would I cut? Across-the-board spending freeze. Some people say it’s a hatchet. I’ll do the hatchet and then the scalpel. Would cut marketing assistance, ethanol subsidies, I know how to save billions.

Grab your drinks: McCain mentions EARMARKS.

9:21pm Eastern. McCain repeats his line that Americans are angry. Pledges to balance the budget in four years. You have to tell me one time when you’ve stood up to the leaders of your party.

Obama: Cites tort reform, charter schools. He slips in a reference to Fox News agreeing with him.

Obama moves to his BUSH-McCain talking points.

McCain: Elaborates on his opposition to Bush administration. I’ve got the scars to prove it. Cites CLIMATE CHANGE. Your record of independence isn’t very convincing.

Schieffer moves to the tone of the campaign. Obama says “erratic,” “losing his bearings, etc.” McCain says “lie,” “palling around with terrorists,” etc. “Are you each willing to say to each other’s face what you’ve said in ads.”

McCain goes first. “It’s gotten tough and I regret some of it.” Blames Obama for not accepting Town Hall proposals. McCain calls out John Lewis for comparing him to George Wallace and calls out Obama for not repudiating him. Very unfair and totally inappropriate. We will run a truthful campaign. A tough campaign. Obama has spent more on negative ads than any campaign in history. He said he would take public financing if I did. He didn’t keep his word. You didn’t tell the American people the truth.

Obama: We expect presidential campaigns to be tough. Whines that McCain’s ads were 100 percent negative and says people don’t want to hear about their hurt feelings. Plays the distraction card.

Obama will not repudiate John Lewis’s remarks, then says “politics as usual” is no longer acceptable.

McCain attacks Obama’s health care and immigration ads. Invokes Joe the Plumber again.

Obama smirks.

McCain: I did not hear repudiation of Congressman Lewis’s remarks.

Obama whines about the purported catcalls at the Palin rallies and rationalizes Lewis’s remarks. Whines about the “palling around with terrorists” jibe. It’s an opening to talk about Ayers…but McCain’s not biting for whatever reason.

9:33pm Eastern. McCain defends the people who attend his rallies.

KNOCK ME OVER WITH A FEATHER. He’s defending the base. “I’m not going to stand for that!”

You just scored some points, McCain.


McCain: I’ve seen t-shirts that are unacceptable. Things yelled at your rallies.

FINALLY! Rejecting the “mob narrative.”

9:35pm Eastern. McCain ate his Wheaties. He mentions old, washed-up terrorist Ayers and Acorn – destroying the fabric of our nation.

Obama gives his talking points about Ayers (I was eight years old) and ACORN (I represented them in a lawsuit with the Justice Department).

McCain better set the record straight.

9:38pm Eastern. McCain says he launched his political campaign in Ayers’ living room. Mentions Ayers’ 2001 regret that he hadn’t bombed more.

Well, was that enough, folks? What do you think?

I think it’s the best we can expect McCain to have done.

The McCain campaign e-mails the talking points McCain failed to recite…

ACORN’s Political Action Committee Endorsed Barack Obama For President. “[A]CORN’s political action committee endorsed Barack Obama for President. … The endorsement reflects a belief that Obama – who worked as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago – understands that change must come from the ground-up, as part of a working coalition, rather than from position papers.” (Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Op-Ed, “ACORN: Obama Gets It,” The Nation, 2/23/08)

Barack Obama’s Campaign “Paid More Than $800,000” To ACORN For Get-Out-The Vote Efforts; The Campaign Originally “Misrepresented” The Group’s Work To The FEC. “U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign paid more than $800,000 to an offshoot of the liberal Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now for services the Democrat’s campaign says it mistakenly misrepresented in federal reports. An Obama spokesman said Federal Election Commission reports would be amended to show Citizens Services Inc. — a subsidiary of ACORN — worked in ‘get-out-the-vote’ projects, instead of activities such as polling, advance work and staging major events as stated in FEC finance reports filed during the primary.” (David M. Brown, “Obama To Amend Report On $800,000 In Spending,” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 8/22/08)


Barack Obama Directed Project Vote And Later Taught Classes For “Future Leaders Identified By ACORN And The Centers For New Horizons.” “In 1992 Obama took time off to direct Project Vote, the most successful grass-roots voter-registration campaign in recent city history. Credited with helping elect Carol Moseley-Braun to the U.S. Senate, the registration drive, aimed primarily at African-Americans, added an estimated 125,000 voters to the voter rolls–even more than were registered during Harold Washington’s mayoral campaigns. ‘It’s a power thing,’ said the brochures and radio commercials. … Obama continues his organizing work largely through classes for future leaders identified by ACORN and the Centers for New Horizons on the south side.” (Hank De Zutter, Op-Ed, “What Makes Obama Run?” Chicago Reader, 12/8/95)

· In 1992, Barack Obama Was Hired By ACORN To Run A Voter Registration Effort. “Indeed, Mr. Obama has extensive connections with the granddaddy of activist groups, Acorn (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which has gotten millions in government grants for its low-income housing programs. In 1992, Acorn hired Mr. Obama to run a voter registration effort. He later became a trainer for the group, as well as its lawyer in election law cases. Acorn’s political arm has endorsed Mr. Obama while its ‘voter education’ arm has pledged to spend $35 million to register people this fall — despite a history of vote fraud scandals that have led to guilty pleas by many Acorn employees.” (John Fund, “Obama’s Liberal Shock Troops,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/12/08)

Barack Obama Was Part Of Team Of Lawyers Who Represented ACORN In A Suit Against The State Of Illinois. “Obama was part of a team of attorneys who represented the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois in 1995 for failing to implement a federal law designed to make it easier for the poor and others to register as voters.” (Mike Robinson, “Obama Got Start In Civil Rights Practice,” The Associated Press, 2/20/07)

ACORN Received Grants From The Woods Fund When Barack Obama Served on The Board Of Directors

· The Chicago ACORN Received Grants Of $45,000 (2000), $30,000 (2001), $45,000 (2001), $30,000 (2002), And $40,000 (2002) From The Woods Fund. (Donors Forum Website,, Accessed 6/10/08)

· NOTE: From 1993 To 2002, Barack Obama Served On The Board Of Directors For The Woods Fund. (Tim Novak and Fran Spielman, “Obama Helped Ex-Boss Get $1 Mil. From Charity,” Chicago Sun-Times, 11/29/07)

9:41pm Eastern. Schieffer asks each candidate why their vp candidate would be a better prez than the other’s vp candidate.

Obama gives obligatory Joe is Great spiel with requisite Violence Against Women Act reference and is now talking about “INVESTING” again. Make it a drinking word.

McCain: Sarah Palin is a reformer. She understands families with special needs. She’s ignited our party and people who have never been involved in the political process.

Reader Dustin writes that McCain should have said “Not only do I think Palin would be better than Biden, I believe she’d be better and more experienced than Barack Obama.”

Schieffer asks Obama if Palin is qualified. “That will be up to the American people to decide,” then throws in a jab at McCain on special needs. Says it will take more spending.

McCain: Biden’s qualified in many respects, but has been wrong on foreign policy that’s supposed to be his strength. Cockamamie idea of dividing Iraq in three parts. Wrong about the first Gulf War. National security.

Then McCain jabs Obama back over relying on new spending as solution to everything.

9:47pm Eastern. CLIMATE CHANGE!

Obama is especially smirky tonight, isn’t he?

9:52pm Eastern. McCain dings Obama for opposing Colombia free trade agreement. “Obama, who’s never traveled south of our border…”

McCain slips in Obama’s tea-with-dictators stance. Obama smirks and snorts.

9:59pm Eastern. Health care. McCain is really using Joe the Plumber to great effect. Invokes him again and asks what fine Obama would impose on him if he doesn’t meet Obama’s mandates.

McCain uses a bogus Michael Moore statistic: See the 47 million uninsured lie.

10:04pm Eastern. McCain challenges Obama’s big government policies and mistakenly calls Obama “Sen. Government.”

Yeah, that works.

10:08pm Eastern. Schieffer throws in a SCOTUS question. McCain and Obama agree they wouldn’t apply a litmus test. Obama invokes Roe v. Wade.

McCain better bring up Obama’s lies about his born-alive survivors bill vote.

10:11pm Eastern. YES! He’s finally making up for all those missed opportunities. McCain nails Obama for his extreme, pro-abortion votes. “That’s his record. He voted in direct contradiction to the feelings of mainstream America.”

Obama spins. Filibusters.

McCain rejoinder to Obama — nails him on disingenuous “health of the mother” language/loopholes. Mentions that he and Cindy are adoptive parents, but that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to stand for the rights of the unborn.

Very eloquent. Good job, McCain. (See, who says I can’t say nice things about Mac?)

10:16pm Eastern. Last question is on education.

I’m tuning out Obama. He just said “INVEST” for the 998th time tonight. Blahblah.

McCain calls education the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Talks about choice, parental empowerment. Give parents the same choice that the Obamas have and Cindy and I have to send their kids to good schools. Throwing money is not the answer to the problem. You will find that some of the worst public school districts get the most money.


10:21pm Eastern. Schieffer asks if there should be increased federal role in education. Obama says yes despite the failure of No Child Left Behind. Pay teachers more, fund early childhood education. I AGREE with McCain on charter schools, says Obama. Opposes vouchers.

McCain dings Obama again for exercising his own school choice, but not allowing other parents to do the same.

Obama called on people to put down their video games, but as a McCain staffer e-mails: “But he advertises on them? Disingenuousness.”

Obama tries to rationalize his opposition to vouchers.

McCain sums it up for him: “So because there aren’t enough vouchers we shouldn’t have any even if they work. Got it.”

Obama claims that DC superintendent only supports charter schools, not vouchers. McCain corrects him. Obama sticks to his claim.

Obama is wrong. McCain is right. More here.

Obama: Out-of-touch with minority families demanding choice in D.C.

Debate wrap-up here.


11:09pm Eastern Hillary is on Fox News (!) praising Obama through gritted teeth. She says that Joe the Plumber will be “appreciably more positively impacted” by Obama’s policies vs. McCain’s.

“Appreciably more positively impacted?”

And they call Sarah Palin inarticulate…

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama, John McCain