Categorized | Politics

Viewers See Little Reason to Change Their Minds After Final Presidential Debate

BY FERNANDO GALLO//

In the final presidential debate between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, hot-button issues such as abortion, negative campaign advertising and the vice-presidential choices dominated the discussion. For some viewers who watched the debate at 33 Revolutions Café in El Cerrito, that was a welcome change of pace.

“They really got them kind of butting heads,” viewer Suzanne Klein said of the debate topics.

Many pundits said before the debate that McCain needed a strong performance to revitalize his campaign. Poll numbers have suggested that Obama’s lead over the veteran senator is growing, and some even project an Obama landslide.

McCain openly challenged Obama with his comments, calling the senator out for reneging on a pledge to use only public financing for his campaign and again stating that Obama never went against the leaders of his party on issues.

“But it’s very clear that I have disagreed with the Bush administration. I have disagreed with leaders of my own party. I’ve got the scars to prove it,” McCain said.

He also brought up Obama’s past relationship with William Ayers, a former political radical who is now a college professor who the McCain campaign has sometimes referred to as a “terrorist.”

“I don’t care about an old washed-up terrorist,” McCain said. “But as Senator Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of that relationship.”

“Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of Senator McCain’s campaign over the last two or three weeks – this has been their primary focus,” Obama said in reply. “So let’s get the record straight: Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago… Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House. So that’s Mr. Ayers.”

Viewer Pat Bell said Obama handled the Ayers situation very well.

“People have said that Obama was sort of baiting John McCain to go after him on the Ayers thing,” she said. “And he was ready. He gave a really strong response.”

Obama followed a pattern he started in previous debates by comparing McCain to President Bush and talking about a “new direction” for the country.

“If I occasionally have mistaken your policies for George Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people – on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities – you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush,” Obama said. “And it hasn’t worked. And I think the American people understand it hasn’t worked. We need to move in a new direction.”

“Senator Obama, I am not President Bush,” McCain retorted. “If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago. I’m going to give a new direction to this economy in this country.”

Viewers at 33 Revolutions said Obama was victorious in the final meeting of the candidates, although the crowd was definitely skewed in his favor.

“I doubt if there is a McCain supporter in there,” Bell said about the café.

“I thought (McCain) did an adequate job,” viewer Eric Van James said. “I think he was probably better in one of the other debates.”

The final verdict on both candidates will be decided when voters head to the polls Nov. 4.

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