Thursday, October 16, 2008

Live-blogging the final presidential debate of 2008

These are jots and commentary from my live-blogging of the last presidential debate. This is not an actual official transcript. For some more commentary on the debate, see "How McCain lost the final debate".
Q - Question asked by Bob Schieffer, moderator (links to CSPAN video)
O - Obama
M - McCain
bold text - interesting line
red text - Jotman's comments
Q: Why your plan better than his?
M: Nancy prayers. Americans hurting and angry, innocent victims of greed and excess on W Street. Angry. New direction. Elements of my proposal. One of the short-term fixes: catalyst F and Fannie. Let's take 300 M to buy out home mortgages. So they can afford to stay. Put home owners first.
O: I think everyone understands we are experiencing worst financial rescue since G Depression. I expressed core principles, making sure ceos don't enrich selves. What haven't seen is rescue package for the middle class. 1) no breaks for job exporters 2) tax cuts for mid class 3) I agree with McCain to help homeowners. Disagree with M on how to do it. Could be give away to banks if we are paying full price for loans that could be worth a lot less. Fix health care.
Q: Ask O a question?
M: Plumber wanted to buy a business, but saw O would have had tax increase. "Joe, I want to tell you I want to help you buy that bus, afford healthcare, I won't stand for taxes on small business."
O: He's been watching ads of Sen McCain. (great line) We both want to cut taxes, just who tax them for. M wants to cut taxes on corporations. 95 percent etc. I provide 3 times relief. "Joe plumber, five years ago you needed a tax cut then."
M: We need to spread wealth around. Give Joe's wealth to O to spread around. I want Joe the plumber to spread the wealth. O premise is class warfare. Why would you want to increase anyone's taxes right now? Anyone in America?
O: I I could answer. I want to cut taxes for 95 percent. My friend Warren Buffet could afford more taxes to give Joe plumber before he was at 250 K level a break.
M: We need to cut taxes, not spread the wealth around.

Q: What will you cut back spending? (Wrong question, depressed times call for stimulus package, deficit spending).
O: I have proposed a net spending cut. (Assumes audience too stupid to understand the concept of deficit spending to stimulate economy in recession?) Line by line cuts. Need to invest in country: education, energy .... Once through economic crisis can't go back to profligate ways.
M: I want to get back to home ownership. During depression era we had a home ownership corporation. .. (Shows M's age)
Q: The question was what are you going to cut?
M: Energy - wind, tide, nuclear. What I cut? Across the board spending freeze. Hatchet, then we take scapal. Government spending out of control. I know how to save billions in defense spending. . . . . I opposed subsidies for ethanol. .. . Obama supported those subsidies (True enough). Sen. O has asked for 10 billion for a . . . Including --- for an overhead projector in his home town. (See my blog post concerning this "projector" earmark, an issue which was raised twice in the first debate. This is a bogus charge. Obama take this on!)
O: Earmarks 1/2 of 1 percent. Not going to solve the problem. A little history: when Pres. Bush came into office we had a surplus. Debt has doubled.
M: I am not pres Bush. Should run against him 4 yrs ago. We can balance budget. NY city has.
I can eliminate spending. O's budget had 24 billion more in spending than Bush budget proposal (McCain is nickle-and-dimming).
O: In terms of standing up to party leaders, I stood up to tort reform. I support charter schools. Doesn't make me pop with teachers. I support clean coal. Does make me pop. with . . . . Even Fox News disputes it this claim, and that doesn't happen often with me on Fox News. You have stood up on torture, I give you credit. But economic policy is 8 more yrs of same.
M: Earmarks, pharma, HMO bill of rights, 9/11 commission, I have a long record of fighting. Your argument for standing up to party leaders isn't convincing.

Q: O said M is angry, out of touch lying. M said .. lying, P said terrorist. Are each of you willing to say to each others face the things your campaigns have said about each other? (This was a really good question)
M: If O had sat down town hall. (M isn't looking at O).
The way Barry Goldwater did before tragedy at Dallas (What? Very strange). Deaths of children at church bombings. John Lewis comments, very unfair totally inappropriate. O has spent more money on negative ads.
O: 2/3 of US people think M running a negative campaign. 100 percent negative John. Americans less interested in our hurt feelings than addressing the issues. Health, The notion we aren't doing town halls that justifies the ads going up that are making some pretty tough accusations. I don't mean being attacked for the next 3 weeks. What the Americans deserve over next three weeks is discussion of economic crisis. M campaign said don't want to talk about that. I would love to talk about issues. Politics as as usual is not solving main problems. (WOW! O hit it out of the ballpark).
M: lists specific ads that were wrong. (O should say he won't go listing ads O doesn't agree with.)
O: If we want to talk about Congressman Lewis said -- unprompted -- troubled. People shouting things like terrorist and kill him. I think Cong. Lewis saying.... I put out a statement saying Lewis went over the line comparing it to Civil rights movement unrest. (O is totally in command of this thing. O is absolutely DESTROYING McCain!)
M: I'm proud of the people who go to our rally. To say those veterans are not patriots, I'm not going to stand here to someone saying that someone yelled at rally that I'm not happy. Some T-shirts. (M is attacking O for mentioning)
Q: Do you take issues? (This debate is incredible)
O: If we are going to life wages we are going to have to work together, disagree without being disagreeable.
M: You asked me... We need to know extent of O's relation to Acorn which is destroying fabric of democracy.
O: I will respond to Ayers. It is the centerpiece of the M campaign. Ayers is a Prof of education in Chicago. Despicable acts in 60s. 10 years ago I served on S Reform board, Annenberg, with Pres. of Chic Tribune, Pres of Ill Uni. Acorn apparently paying people to go out and register folks, some just filled out a bunch of names. My only involvement was when worked with Dept of Justice. Let me tell you who I associate with: economic policy: Buffet, foreign policy: Lugar Jim Jones, NATO, Biden. I think that this [your attacks on me for my association with Ayers] is such an important part of your campaign says more about you than about me. (Obama is demolishing M)
M: You started career in Ayer's living room.
O: Not true.

Q: Next: Running mates, why country if better off if your running mate rather than his running mate?
O: B has best foreign policy creds. Pattern through career to fight for little guy. Joe fights on behalf of working families, shares my core values. Where country needs to go. Both us agree we must invest in Am people, tax cuts to [mid class]. Would make outstanding pres if something happened to me.
M: P a role model for women, took on corruption as head of energy, given money to taxpayers, negotiated with (O should ask M why he didn't list lies like bridge to nowhere. M was too careful to leave out many bogus accomplishments). She understands autism on the rise. Special needs children. I'm proud of her. She has united our party. I'm proud of her and family.
Q: You think qualified?
O: Up to Am people. I think special needs work commendable. I want to put out autism will require additional funding, across bord funding cut won't help them. (great response. O is being a gentleman).
M: Attacks B. Several issues on which he and B disagree (nobody cares, McCain.) O wants to raise taxes.

O: How much can the U.S. reduce dependence on foreign oil? (Shaefer is an awesome moderator, way better than the previous ones).
M: Candadian oil is fine. When Obama said he would renegotiate NAFTA, Canadians say go ahead, we sell our oil to China. Don't tell countries we are going to unilaterally renegotiate deals.
O: In 10 years I think we can so we don't have to import from mid east or V. No longer borrow money from china to pay middle east. We can't drill way out of problem: solar , wind, biodiesel . . . Need fuel eff car built here. I believe in free trade, NAFTA should have environ and labour terms. South korea -- 100 k, 4-5 k cars get here.
M: I admire O eloquence. Must drill now. O said "look at offshore drilling." O disapproves of the free trade agreement with Columbia. The country that just freed 3 Americans. Maybe you ought to travel down there and visit and now.
O: History is labor leaders have been targeted for assassination. We have to stand for human rights and mk sure violence isn't perpetrated against workers asking for their rights. (good O sounds really principled about this, I like it). We have to guarantee loans for automakers, but also hold them accountable for higher energy efficiency vehicles. (Such a smart answer. Elect this man!)
M: Wants no free trade with Columbia, but will talk to Iran. O wants to restrict trade and raise taxes -- Herbert Hoover last one to say that.

Q: Healthcare - Do you favor controlling health care costs over expanding coverage?
O: My plan is . . . keep your health insur. if have it. But lower costs. If don't have it give option to buy into federal pool.. We will negotiate....
M: Painful situation. Cost escalations inflict pain. Need to do a lot of things. Records online. Walk in clinics. Obesity . .. Fitness programs in schools. Have rewards for fitness. 5K refund tax credit. O will fine Joe Plumber.
M: Fine is zero, Joe. Exempt small business from pay into kitty. Either they provide it to their employees or someone has to. (US system is stupid: government should do this, not the businesses). We exempt small businesses. We give you 50 percent credit. Sen M's plan 5 K creit sounds good. Problem: 20 m will have no way, old folks can't get insurance for 5 K. Only young so cheap to insure. M would tax healthcare benefits. Insurers: main restrictions is state law.
M: Joe wanted to buy business .. . 95 percent of people in America will receive benefits.
O: You heard my plan. You keep it. Under M's plan risk of losing it. US C of Commerce said M plan could lead to unravelling of employer based healthcare.

Q: abortion: Could you nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with your view of Roe v. Wade?
M: No litmus tests. Should be state decision.
O: Right so not a states' issue. Outstanding judicial qualities. Would withhold lifesaving treatment for an infant. A woman being treated unfairly...
M: gets into really hard-core Pro-Life agenda issues: late term abortion (procedures that are extremely rare, yet right is obsessed with these isolated cases).
O: Already a law on the books that required care for infant. I supported ban on partial birth if exception for mother's life. There was not. That was rejected. That's why I voted present. (O should not have said that about voting present, sort of diminishes argument).
M: Eloquence of O. "Health of mother." "Health" means different things to different people.

Q: Spend more on education, gets less. Does poor performance in schools pose a threat to national security?
O: Key to our economic future, national security. Can't have decline in economy, and remain a mil. power. 4K tuition credit.
M: Charter schools help, same opportunity I had (O should ask why M didn't support veteran's bill)
O: Agree with M about charter schools. Agree on need to fire bad teachers. Disagree that vouchers will solve problems. I don't think America's youth are an "interest group" they are our future.

Q: Should the federal government play a larger role in education?
M: DC voucher program successful. Want same chance. I'm surprised you didn't pay attention to that. Autism -- we will fund it. I will fund reform. Won't continue to throw money at problem. Vouchers proven good system.
O: Vouchers in DC. DC system in terrible shape. Wonderful new superintendent
M: supports vouchers
O: supports charters. 2K slots increased. so 50 states left out.
M: Not enough vouchers, therefore don't do it, even though it is working (M laughs to himself, but he's not funny).

Q: Final statements:

O: Long record, careful steward of health dollars. Have to stop the spending that has mortgaged your children's futures. Long line of McCains that have served our country in war and in peace.
M: I want to thank Sen M and Bob. The biggest risk we could take now is to adopt the same failed policies and politics. Fundamental change needed. What I'd like to bring. I'm sure our brighter days are still ahead. Got to invest in the American people again. Tax cuts, in policies that will life wages and grow our middle class. Not going to be easy. Going to require all of us to come together and renew a spirit of sacrifice and responsibility. I will work every single day tirelessly on your behalf and for the future of your children.

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SPECIAL COVERAGE I live-blogged the spontaneous Obama victory celebration in Washington DC. Experience what it felt like to be among thousands of deliriously happy people gathered outside the White House. Click here.

Previously, I had been blogging about the Obama, McCain and the US election. I wrote about Sarah Palin on this blog even before McCain chose her to be his running mate. The choice was disappointing, and a possibility I had anticipated.

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