First McCain did come off the best in this debate. Both candidates scored important points and talked to their base, however throughout the debate McCain talked to the middle as well and managed to score with all of America again and again.
He scored great points with his tough talk on economics and cutting spending while Obama lost points by talking about all new programs and his unwillingness to cut any.
McCain definitely won on energy. While Obama was interested in gotchas and history, McCain put forth a solid plan that will work.
McCain was a tour d’force on foreign policy, and outshone Obama by miles there.
At a couple of points you could see Barack put up his hands like he wanted to call a time out when McCain was using Barack’s own statements to illustrate his points. Yes, america gets it that you said that Barack, and then you changed your stance after a lot of coaching. It was crystal clear in the debate.
Now we all know there were bigger zingers, harder slams, and tougher things that John could have said, but there are reasons he did not. He is carefully courting the Reagan Democrats and we need them to win. If he goes to polar in the initial debate he loses them from the get go.
He couldn’t go to town with Acorn, Dodd, Raines, Frank, Countrywide, and Johnson the way he could have, and he can’t until we get through the crisis d’jour. He didn’t bring up that they burnt Barack in effigy in the streets of Pakistan after his comments on Pakistan, although he could have.
He didn’t drive home the fact that Al Qaeda is “reconstituted” in Pakistan because we kicked their ass in Iraq and they had to flee there.
He didn’t bring up that we really are at the crux of winning three wars in Iraq: the first against Sadaam, the second against Al Qaeda, and the third against the Badr brigades assisted by the Revolutionary Guard of Iran. Few have said that, but it’s the truth.
He didnt’ bring up that the average american farm is Rich in Barack’s book, he didn’t bring up that the average Home run business is rich in Barack’s books. That’s a must do next debate.
Again the real slings and arrows have not yet flown against Barack Obama, they are held in reserve. That’s a good thing.
Also note that McCain is winning in both the Drudge Report and AoL polls immediately following the debates by an almost 70 / 30 split.