Pundits Rate Near-Tie Debate
Obama likely comes out ahead by not losing
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2008 11:02 AM CDT
Presidential debate moderator Jim Lehrer poses a question to Barack Obama and John McCain during the presidential debate Friday, Sept. 26, 2008 at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.    (AP Photo/Chip Somodevilla, Pool)
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(Newser) – One consensus is emerging about last night’s debate: It was close. Here’s how the pundits are calling the squeaker:

  • “Barack Obama was running for prime minister” last night, while McCain was running for president, writes David Ignatius in the Washington Post. But neither was compelling, and neither responded well to the economic crisis.
  • Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard gives the win to McCain, “But the debate produced no knockout sound bites,” he writes, and so won’t change the race.

  • In a debate about tactics and strategies, Obama acted strategically, sticking to big issues and “an overall vision for the country,” writes Joe Klein of Time, while McCain fought tactically, trying to pick fights over details and “personal obsessions” like earmarks.
  • We’ll remember this debate alongside Kennedy-Nixon, Reagan-Carter, and Clinton-Bush, writes James Fallow of the Atlantic Monthly. In each case a fresh, inexperienced candidate didn’t exactly win, but proved himself a plausible president.