Debate Winner? He Who Beats Expectations

McCain faces uphill battle; Obama needs to boost foreign-policy cred
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2008 2:20 PM CDT
John McCain and Barack Obama will face off Friday in the first debate of the presidential campaign.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – To win the presidential debates, Barack Obama and John McCain need to beat expectations, political strategist Mark Penn writes on Politico. Penn, who most recently was Hillary Clinton’s top strategist, argues that reinforcing one’s strengths does nothing: Voters know Obama, for example, is a skilled speaker, so he needs to be “clear and substantive,” and refrain from flashy rhetoric.

Obama should focus on foreign policy, the area where McCain consistently outpolls him, and would do well to link it to economic policy at home. McCain faces lower expectations coming into the debate, so he must grab voters’ attention and pound Obama’s inexperience home.