Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe The Plumber Wins Final US Debate

Joe the Plumber won last night's crucial TV debate, as McCain and Obama got up close and personal and McCain tried to remind voters, yet again, that he wasn't George Bush. 

McCain kicked off the final debate, accusing Obama of waging a class war with tax increases that would "spread the wealth around" and led to a constant battle about what's best for Joe the Plumber, that shaped the debate and could decide the result of the election. 

McCain at times looked angry and got under Obama's skin. Obama tried to keep his customary cool, calmly sipping his water but the unflappable mask and charming smile slipped on a number of occasions. 

It was McCain, not Obama, who needed to win last night's debate and launch a political comeback. 

McCain finally had some fire in his belly as he brought up Obama's relationship with former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers

He demanded to know the full extent of Obama's relationship with Ayers, a violent 1960s terrorist and the Democrat's ties with ACORN, a liberal group accused of violating federal law over registering voters. But he allowed Obama to parry the Ayres attack without driving his point home.

McCain then accused Obama of not levelling with the public over his decision to forgo public financing for his campaign in favour of raising his own funds.

"He signed a piece of paper earlier in the campaign pledging to accept federal financing", McCain said, adding that Obama's campaign has spent more money than any since Watergate. Obama let that one go.

Negative TV ads and accusations are all part of the cut and thrust of any US presidential campaign and the jury's out on whether they sway the undeciders or just harden the views of hard-line Obamakins and McCanines.

The economy dominated the headlines before the debate even started and dominated the debate. The election will be decided on who best to trust with that withering economy. 

Struggling to escape being tarred with the same brush as Bush, McCain ran with the line and sound-bite: "Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush. ... You wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago."

With parallels to the Nixon-Kennedy TV debate in 1960, if you didn't listen to the words, Obama, on the whole, just looked much better than McCain and he came across again as a better debater. 

Obama leads in the national polls and surveys in many battleground states, since the economic crisis gripped the nation.

McCain has a steep hill to climb. But he needs now to stop freaking people out about their jobs. Harping on about Joe the Plumber's small business problems won't help in the final days. McCain needs a game change. Obama, just to keep his cool and a level head.

Obama holds a 7.3% lead in the Real Clear Politics polls average but the latest Gallup tracking poll reveals there are nearly twice as many undecided voters this year than there were in the last presidential election. 

The financial crisis has taken an enormous toll on the McCain campaign over the past month but Obama hasn't closed the deal yet. 

In the campaign's final days, it will be that vast swathe of millions of undecided voters, not the already committed, who will take a last serious look at both presidential candidates and finally make up their minds. 

The outcome of this race isn't cast in stone yet, as much of the media desperately hopes and would have us believe.

And what did Joe 'the plumber' Wurzelbacher make of it all?

He said Obama's reaction on the tax question left him feeling uneasy. "I didn't think much of it the first time I heard it," Wurzelbacher said, adding that he still thinks Obama's plan would keep him from buying the business. About McCain: "He's got it right as far as I go."

And which candidate would get Joe's vote on November 4? "That's for me and a button to know," he said.

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