I'll attempt a live-blog for tonight's Presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. They're using a town hall format tonight. I do not guarantee getting quotes totally accurate...
Tom Brokaw chose the questions? How reassuring...
"How are you going to bail us out?" Obama wants the government to save us all. McCain: energy independence, tax cuts, lower spending (brings up the nat'l debt). McCain looks right at home in this format...
Who to appoint for Treasury Secretary. McCain: "Not you, Tom." Names Meg Whitman, Warren Buffett. Obama names Buffett, then launches into an attack on McCain ("fundamentals of the economy are strong").
"How's the bailout going to help normal people?" McCain: I suspended my campaign to make sure the taxpayers got the best deal. "With the encouragement of Sen. Obama and his cronies", Fannie and Freddie were the catalyst for this mess. Mentions his reform bill two years ago. Obama got second-most contributions from Fannie and Freddie. Obama. Businesses can't get loans, so we needed to fix it. Attacks McCain for de-regulation. "I didn't support Fannie Mae; Sen. McCain's campaign chairman worked for Fannie Mae."
Obama. "We have an archaic 20th Century regulatory system for a 21st century economy." McCain, when asked whether the economy will get better: "It depends on what we do." The American people can do it.
"How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties goth us into the crisis?" Obama. Common folks make cuts in budgets, Washington does not. Blames Bush. Reform health care to help your budget. Invest in energy. "Actually, I'm cutting more than I'm spending, so it's a net spending cut." McCain. "The system in Washington is broken.... I've been a consistent reformer." Bipartisan (McCain-Lieberman, etc.). Obama hasn't gone against his party leadership; I have. Hammers Obama on earmarks and new spending, while McCain has argued for spending cuts. Hits on energy independence again.
"What are going to be your priorities?" Health care, entitlement programs, or energy independence. McCain. "I think all three can be done at once." Bipartisanship is key, look at my record. Obama. We have to prioritize. Nat'l security problem (echoes McCain). 10-year plan for energy independence. Energy #1, Health care #2, Education #3.
"What sacrifices will you ask the American people to do?" McCain. Eliminate some programs, ones that aren't working. Points out Boeing tanker fiasco. Swipes at Obama again on overhead projector earmark. Proposes spending freeze, minus vital programs. Goes back; we're not rifleshots, we can do all three at once. Won't tell health care patients that they have to wait. Obama. Bush should have asked more of the American people after 9-11. Says we need to drill more (what?!). Clean coal, offshore drilling. Incentives for energy efficiency. Double Peace Corps.
"How would you break habits of easy credit and debt?" Obama. It starts with Washington. As long as we run trillion-dollar debts, people will think there's plenty of credit. Earmarks are small; McCain's tax cuts for big business and wealthy more than offset earmarks. All of us are going to need to make cuts. Socialistic answer. McCain. "Nailing down Obama's tax proposals are like nailing jello to the wall. Wait around long enough and they'll change." Last president to raise taxes in tough financial times was Herbert Hoover. Obama's tax policies will hurt small businesses. Let's not raise anybody's taxes; times are tough. Health vouchers, double child tax credit. Obama tries to butt in, Brokaw doesn't let him, finally.
"Would you set date for Congress to fix Entitlements?" Obama. Can't guarantee, but will do it in his first term. Goes to taxes (Sen. McCain's straight talk express lost a wheel). 95% of Americans will get taxes cut. Says that no one's taxes will go up. McCain wants to give tax cuts to big corporations and CEOs. Ties McCain to Bush. McCain. "Hey, I'll answer the question!" Social Security can be fixed. Obama has never taken on his own party's leaders on major issues; I have. Form committee to fix it, then give Congress up or down on fix, don't meddle with it.
"What will you about climate change and green jobs in first two years?" McCain. Tough times. Let's not hand our children a "damaged planet". McCain-Lieberman. Nuclear power is the best way to fix climate change. Safe, clean, 100,000s of new jobs. Brits and French do it, so can we. Alternative energy. Americans are the best innovators. Obama. We can create 5M new jobs with energy. Nat'l Security issue. Solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear. Hits McCain on alternative energy votes. (Is McCain left-handed? He's writing with his left hand in the background...) We're causing global warming with oil. Brokaw mentions the lights. They're for you to stop. "Manhattan Project for energy?" Yes, start with government, and then send to private. Obama votes for pork-barrel bills with big-oil goodies, McCain votes against them. Drilling for oil bridges energy gap. "We've got to drill now." Stops when supposed. "I'll stop Tom, you don't even need to wave.
"Should health care be treated as a commodity?" Obama. Health care is major problem. Insurance is skyrocketing. Government will lower your insurance! If you don't have insurance, you'll get the same as McCain and I, just like gov't employees. Hits McCain's health plan. I'll fight for patients. McCain. Make more efficient. Obama talks about government mandates (gov't do this, gov't do that). Obama will fine you. I'll give you $5000 tax credit, transferable across state lines. 95% of people will have increased funds under my plan.
I'll say it again. McCain looks good in this format.
"Is health care a right, priviledge, or a responsibility?" McCain. A responsibility. Gov't mandates worry me. Perhaps Obama will tell us what the fine is if you don't follow his plan. Obama. Wants to go after McCain; Brokaw tells him to answer the question. Health Care is a right. You are going to have to make sure you get health care for you kids. McCain voted against kids health care. (lost audio... don't know what he's saying...)
Foreign policy. "How will all the recent economic stress affect peacemaker ability?" McCain. We are the greatest force for good in the history of the world. Shed blood all over the world in defense of other's freedom. I have the judgement to know when and where to go in to stop genocide and protect nat'l security. Obama was wrong about the surge, wrong about Russia/Georgia. No time for on the job training. Obama. I don't know why we attacked Iraq while Osama was still around. Iraq is a black-hole for American budget. Iraq has a big surplus; make them pay. We're a force for good, but we can't still be the top-dog and have a good economy.
Obama/McCain Doctrine on use of force for genocide. Obama. Moral issues at stake. Mentions Holocaust (we kinda weren't able to get over there, Obama), Rwanda. Intervene where possible, but we can't be everywhere all the time. Work with allies. McCain. Obama was wrong on Iraq. We're the greatest force for good, must try to prevent genocide. Must have a cool hand, though. Somalia disaster. Beirut. (temporary suspension of live blog...)
Looks like Obama is complaining for a follow-up. More about Pock-iston. Can you please pronounce it correctly??!
McCain. I know how to get Bin-Laden, but I won't telegraph my punches.
How do you reorganize Afghan strategy. Obama. Force Afghanistan gov't to live up to benchmarks. Phased withdrawal. Tahlibahn. "When I met with Karzai, I said he needs to step up." McCain. Petraeus just got there, but he knows what to do. Tactical differences, but same basic strategy. Obama was wrong on Iraq, and he's wrong on Afghanistan.
"How can we apply pressure on Russia for humanitarian issues w/o starting another cold war?" McCain. Long ago I warned about Putin. "I looked into his eyes and saw three letters: K-B-G." Putin has his eyes on Ukraine. Show moral support for Ukraine, Georgia. Let them into NATO. Will be no new cold war. Obama. For the most part, I agree with Sen. McCain. Not just moral support, financial. I said Georgia situation was bad, because Russian peacekeepers were there. Ties McCain to Bush. Energy is key to dealing with Russia (I don't think we get oil from Russia...)
Is Russia the evil empire Reagan said they were? Obama. They've engaged in evil behavior. Dances. McCain. Maybe. Depends on how we respond. If I say yes, we reignite Cold War. No, and we ignore the problem.
"If Iran attacks Israel, would you committ troops or wait for UN Security Council?" McCain. We obviously would not wait for the UN. Russia and China likely block. Obama would meet w/o preconditions. I would pose tough sanctions to force Iran to stop. We can never allow a second Holocaust to take place. Obama. We cannot allow Iran to get a nuke (but we won't try to stop them?). It would threaten the region, and Israel. Won't take military options off table. But we must use all tools (i.e. diplomacy). If we prevent Iran from shipping their oil and gas, that puts a squeeze on them. His plan "may not work."
"What don't you know, and how will you learn it?" Obama. Ask Michelle. Tries to tout low beginnings. Is he answering the question? "We need fundamental change." McCain. "I don't know what you don't know, and that's what's going to happen, here and abroad." Have spent life serving country. Tough times are coming, but we can do this together. We need a steady hand on the tiller.
McCain really performs well in this format. I thought Obama did okay, but McCain definitely won.