Candidate’s guide for Wednesday’s Presidential debate

In case Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain weren’t aware of what their strategies should be for Wednesday’s debate, I though I’d arrogantly take it upon myself to explore the current issues, conflicts, and voter sentiment heading into Wednesday’s third and final Presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. The debate will air at 9pm eastern, 6pm pacific.

For Senator Obama:

Barack Obama has himself in a fairly good situation right. I use for the fairly only because we still have 3 weeks to go and I believe the race is very fluid. Sen. Obama has managed to convince a majority of voters, according to polls, that he is the one to deal with economic issues. How much of that is praise for Obama’s polices and how much is the anti-incumbent wave after 8 years of President Bush is anyone’s guess.

For the previous two presidential debates, Sen. Obama has sounded plausible with all his answers and came off with a strong control of the subject matter, or at least he came across that way to viewers. He managed to spin off McCain’s attacks and return fire with his trademarked “eight years of failed Bush policies which John McCain supports” line.

I think Obama’s job in Wednesday’s debate is to continue this rhetoric, continue attempting to convince voters he will be ready and able to take the reigns on January 20th, 2009 and be in control of the country’s economic issues. Furthermore, Obama should also continue working to paint his health care plan as the middle ground, between two extremes as his commercials frequently inform me. This works well with moderates.

For Senator McCain:

John McCain, according to the polls, is in a much tougher spot that Sen. Obama at this point. However, as we saw during the primary season, McCain seems to perform well in the underdog role, despite what pundits say. With regard to economics, McCain’s plans might be solid for all we know, however, that doesn’t matter since he is running against 8 years of incumbency and a wave of pro-Democratic sentiment among many voters, especially in swing states.

During the previous two debates, McCain gave decent performances, similar to Obama, however, he wasn’t able to drive much of his message home as an alternative to Sen. Obama’s plans and policies. Viewers of the debates didn’t rate him poorly but they also didn’t give him high grades with regard to where he stands on some the questions posed.

I think McCain’s job during Wednesday’s debate is to pick a line of attack and drive it home if he wishes to make an impact. He has been all over the map the past week attacking Obama’s character and judgment while later in the week seeming to back off from that line of attack. McCain has to pick a path and follow it to the end and create a real choice for voters come November 4th. Furthermore, it wouldn’t hurt McCain to criticize the past 8 years of heavy spending by congress and President Bush as well, however, his main focus should be how he can best represent a stark alternative to Sen. Obama. McCain today has stated that “Ayers will come up at the debate,” a statement which think should have been better left unsaid, even if he intends to do so. I’d advise him to not giveaway his battle plans, as he’s often criticized Obama of doing with regard to Pakistan.

For both candidates:

I don’t think I can stress this enough, and everyone agrees, but answer the darn question! The past two presidential debates were both riddled with occasions where questions were asked and answered with a stump-style campaign speech. Answer the questions and be passionate about it. Explain why you feel that way on an issues, explain the information which led you to that conclusion. The bottom line, just be straight with your responses, give voters something to think about, avoid delivering a campaign speech we’ve all heard about a million times over the past 10 months.

Now for some supporting stories furthering this discussion.

First, some advice for McCain from Politico:

Top Republican strategists believe John McCain’s stalled presidential campaign can only be revived if the Arizona senator takes an immediate and decisive turn in direction, one marked by an almost unwavering focus on the economy and a sharp break from Bush administration economic policy.

While Barack Obama’s past associations with controversial figures such as former radical William Ayers should be a part of McCain’s closing argument, they say, the GOP nominee needs to primarily concentrate on the historic nature of the current economic crisis and explain why he is better suited to lead the country out of it.

“Either McCain wins the argument over the economy or he loses,” said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House. “When the economy is this central to everybody’s life, when everybody is as worried as they are now, then when you are not talking about the economy you are not winning.”

“Can he come back? I think he can. But time is running very short. I would give it about a week, at the most, to turn this around,” said John Weaver, McCain’s former top strategist. “We are speaking in angry Greek and the public wants to hear economic English.

“If we think we can make the public care about William Ayers or some other things when they are afraid of losing their jobs, not being able to pay for college or work ten more years because they are worried about their retirements, we are kidding ourselves,” Weaver continued.

McCain needs to simply pick the issues he believes he can win on and drive them home. I believe we will see this strategy employed starting at Wednesday’s debate and then continued the next three weeks.

Obama has been careful in the past couple weeks to remain steady, give speeches off the teleprompter, and attempt to coast these last few weeks with no mistakes on the trail. So far, it’s been working for him and even Biden hasn’t gaffed recently. Obama’s job on Wednesday will be to derail McCain’s efforts to bring his message back on track. If Obama can simply prevent McCain from landing strong attacks on him, he will have succeeded.

So there, tell me where I’m wrong or where I’m right.

We’ll have more on the debate tomorrow with a pre-debate report. The final presidential debate airs Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 at 9pm eastern, 6pm pacific on every major broadcast network and every cable news network.

  • ed read

    I would like to see gossiping, prejuidice, low level language, prepotency and other vulgar attitudes left aside.

    I dream about the two candidates going seriously and respectuly right to the issues.

    Any of them that behaves as in the first paragraph should be punished lefting him without votes.

  • Both candidates need to come out fighting.

    McCain’s got the tricky job of mentioning Ayers, ACORN, Wright or whoever as promised. That said Obama could do with mentioning Ayers, ACORN, Wright or whoever first, which would then completely steal any thunder McCain might gain from doing so.

  • Bill Hedges

    Nate– In your article you mentioned Bush’s heavy spending. I can imagine some saying that, but not you. I agree Bush could have done what McCain promises to do. Veto all bills, good or bad, that has Pork. Which at times could be 1/3 of total cost of the bill. Bush veoted few bills. One he did veto was a War budget full of PORK, roughly 1/3..That’s a lot of money.. He publized that and got a better bill he signed. That was BUSH doing a McCain. I would have preferred you had said Congress bills caused heavy spending. Just a thought..

  • Bill Hedges

    ED READ–Obama has dared McCain to say certain things to his face. McCain respnded by saing it never came up in debate. You can bet it will tomorrow… I heard this saying a long time ago…..Be carefull for what you ask for. You just might get it….

  • Brent

    I created this video playlist of the highlights of the last two Presidential Debates between Mccain and Obama. You can also watch both full length debates as well.

  • Bill,

    I agree that congress is to blame for the spending, however, Bush signed all those bills as well. The buck has to stop somewhere, you see. Do I think Bush should have vetoed every bill with pork in like McCain is proposing? No, I’m not even sure that’s possible without tremendous issue. However, I do think a President should be mindful of congressional and government spending. since he, ultimately, has the final say on signing the legislation.

    I personally say that the congress was out of control with spending and the President was the enabler. So I am not letting congress off the hook, I just give the President a little more blame since I think he should be the one standing up for the country as a whole, which means he should at least try to oppose some pork barrel spending and make it an issue, even he is not able to veto every pork barrel bill.

    Does that clarify my position? I hold both parties to this same philosophy. Someone has to be watching out for the taxpayer’s money and if it’s not congress, it has to be the president. I updated that line to include congress as well.

  • Bill it seems you’re giving too much credit to McCain (no surprise there then) and none to Obama.

    McCain if he brings up certain topics could be seen as bitter, twisted and his campaign desperate if he doesn’t mention them in the right manner, i.e. NOT grumpy. He could also lose a lot of support and seem weak if he doesn’t.

    On the other hand Obama needs to be able to explain exactly what his relationship(s) are to the audience, so they then become as irrelevent to the issues at hand.

    If tomorrow it ends up a draw like pretty much the other 2 debates then Obama wins and we can all sit back relax and watch Sean Hannity make a buffoon of himself for the next 3 weeks spouting things that the voters don’t really care about.

  • Bill Hedges

    Nate–I see your view and do not say you are wrong. I watched The Speaker of the House say Bush put America id debt, wtth a straight face. President can not write a bill. But as I said and you said, he can veto. Though you say not always possible ? Somewhere is the truth, blame President and Congress?..I know life is not fair. But that does not make it fair..I have heard 1/2 million was killed in Iraq before we went there. Yet I hear we went there because of their oil. In boils down to, I would have been one in the audiance recently yelling. Sorry to have done by yelling in your direction.

  • Bill Hedges

    Nzpudding– Anybody who reads my comments know I don’t like Obama’s politics. I see him as a do-nothing Senator. I don’t want him for Pesident. I honestly don’t believe I ever insulted him personal. I don’t like personal attacks toward McCain. Or myself. I don’t want to see a physical fight. Mcain wouldn’t have a chance. I want him to be the John McCain he is. Obama would gain some respect from me if he released all his College records. I do not care about his grades. He has not released them.

  • Bill Hedges

    Nate I re-read your article. I thought it was fair for both sides. You mentioned the ex- Speaker of the House. My hero. I only wish McCain had listened to him all along. There is a ex-Clinto big shot on Hannity all the times that gives great advise for McCain. I think McCain wuld be far ahead if he had their great ideas and followed them.

  • Babs

    I’m a little torn over what I think both candidates should do tonight.

    I think if Obama wants to finally give Americans the transparency in this election that he has promised, he should confront the Ayers, ACORN, etc., issues himself. Having said that, I think it would be useless, because he’s not been truthful heretofore. Somehow, I don’t think he can even be honest with himself on these issues.

    McCain has the best plans for America, but he’s not articulating them. I don’t think he has an avid supporter or pundit who doesn’t think they could have been “bringing the message home” better than he himself has. His proposals for drilling and building nuclear plants alone will create hundreds of thousands of JOBS, and that’s a key issue in this election. Those same proposals have the added benefit of energy independence – a message he has been fairly successful in getting across. His economic philosophy of lower taxes and not taxing employers to death is the safest and historically the most successful one, but he has been unable to get that message across over the deafening roar of “me, me, me” that Obama it touting. Somehow, he has to shout that out over the din of Obama rhetoric.

    In the end, people have bought into Obama’s propaganda of McCain being “more of the same”. It’s easy to believe and requires no thought – republican/republican. It’s ignorant…but it’s easy, and that’s why Obama is skating to the finish line in front.

    I don’t know what McCain has to say to wake America up, but whatever it is, I sure hope he says it.

  • Pats

    Babs, I think Americans are wide awake. The problem is McCain is not academically sound enough to articulate on his very own policies.I’m sure that all Americans know that he is more of deeds than words. Apart from that, there’s a saying that ” A word to the wise is sufficient”.
    secondly, I think McCain rely on his past record to win this election because that is what he has articulated best through out his campaign.
    Obama on the other hand has to do more talking because he hasn’t that lengthy track record to back him. I’m not discounting him because he has his academic record and work record which syand for him.
    I guess each candidate need to demonstrate adequate knowledge of how to solve this economic crisis and change the lives of the American people.

  • tomasphilosopherking

    William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who John McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime.
    The two lobbyists who Timmons worked closely with over a five year period on the lobbying campaign later either pleaded guilty to or were convicted of federal criminal charges that they had acted as unregistered agents of Saddam Hussein’s government.
    During the same period beginning in 1992, Timmons worked closely with the two lobbyists, Samir Vincent and Tongsun Park, on a previously unreported prospective deal with the Iraqis in which they hoped to be awarded a contract to purchase and resell Iraqi oil. Timmons, Vincent, and Park stood to share at least $45 million if the business deal went through.

  • Babs

    tomasphilosopherking, were you interested in discussing this article from the Huffington Post, or were you just interested in spamming the threads on site with the paste of it?

  • Babas,

    I don’t think the public have ‘bought into’ Obama’s proganda of more of the same, they just don’t want another Republican in The White House. I’ve said it time and time again, I like McCain, but he’s 8 years too late.

    I also don’t think the public are buying into McCains negative ads propaganda that Obama isn’t a decent man who wouldn’t make a good President.

    There’s no doubt about it McCain has it tough.