Barack Obama and John McCain debated - actually debated - last night in the first of what will be three presidential debates. And while the insta-polls seem to show that Obama was the winner, it sure looked evenly matched last night.
Going into the debate, which was still an uncertainty until a few hours beforehand, McCain was expected to have the upper-hand, with history and experience behind him. Obama also brought a series of expectations to the table with him. Somewhere between the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 and his acceptance speech this year, the guy got a reputation as a stunning speaker. And while the two sparred over the subtle nuances of foreign policy, international diplomacy and the realities of Waziristan (can you say Quemoy and Matsu?) neither candidate landed the rhetorical punch that would make this debate a clear win-loss for one or the other.
Each candidate took some swipes at each other last night. McCain stayed on the attack most of the evening, painting Obama as naive and unprepared to lead. And Obama took the opportunity to link McCain and Bush on the economy, the war in Iraq, and foreign policy. While the McCain camp would like to use this debate to shift the focus of the campaign to foreign policy and international relations, (the consensus among the media, people that watch these debates professionally and are paid to have an opinion, believe that McCain won), the fact is that the economy is still very much at the top of the headlines. With less than 40 days left to go until the election, voters will have more opportunities to decide on a president. And while McCain may see a bounce over the weekend, the news, and the campaigns, will have to start talking about the economy again in short order.
If you missed it, check out the entire debate below.