Mac's 'Aimless' Debating Skills Need Boost: Coaches

Senator struggled to prove his point in last match-up
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2008 9:00 PM CDT
Barack Obama makes a point during a presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008.   (AP Photo/Jim Bourg, Pool)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – John McCain needs to sharpen his rhetorical skills before the final presidential face-off on Wednesday, debating coaches tell Politico. Whatever advice renowned trainer Brett O’Donnell is giving McCain, they say, has not helped him avoid pitfalls like looking "aimless" and saying "my friends." Voters polled after the first two debates agree: Barack Obama has the rhetorical upper hand.

McCain “meanders through the substance of his arguments,” frequently “getting lost and having to revert back to simple themes," says coach Scott Harris. Obama also struggled—during primary debates—but "internalized" lessons from his mistakes. However, coaches doubt that McCain can pick up skills like enumerating points, using Obama's arguments against him, and ducking questions by Wednesday.