Barack Obama kicked off the first presidential debate by blaming the Wall Street crisis on a "failed" Republican policy of deregulation, the Washington Post reports. John McCain put blame on corporate greed and vowed to punish guilty executives. "Excess is rewarded," he said at the debate in Oxford, Miss. Facing questions from moderator Jim Lehrer, McCain slammed Obama for flip-flopping on the US troop surge in Iraq.
Obama called the surge successful only as a balm to heal 4 years of errors by the Bush administration. McCain attacked Obama for appearing eager to meet with Iran; Obama argued that keeping rogue countries at arm's length only makes them more dangerous. Staying aggressive on foreign policy, McCain blasted Obama's proposal to pull out of Iraq on a strict timetable. Obama insisted that Iraq drains America's economy and diverts the US from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the "root causes" of the war on terror.