The debate was widely viewed as McCain's last stand. He attacked Obama as he said he would but not with the panache on eloquence he needed to put the kibosh on the election. Ultimately McCain's scattered delivery and Obama's cool deflection of his rival's remarks cost the Republican candidate -- opinion polls for CBS, CNN and FOX named Obama the winner immediately following the debate. Today's buzz:
- The format of the debate was awkward and both candidates looked as though they were seeking a loan application sitting across from each other at the desk, John Dickerson wrote in Slate. That said, McCain had strong moments but his attacks seemed scattered and answers not as calm or collected as Obama's. Take-away: "Obama was nearly flawless in beating back the two hardest attacks."
- McCain's shining moment came when he looked squarely at Obama and said that he was not President Bush, wrote Byron York in the NRO. The candidate put Obama on the defensive and drove home Obama's links to Bill Ayers and ACORN. Take-away: "There seems little doubt that McCain scored many more points that Obama."
- McCain's was a bumbling and desperate effort in a final attempt to revive his candidacy, which did little to convince moderate voters that he's their guy, wrote E.J. Dionne Jr. in the WaPo. Take-away: "The trio of attacks almost certainly did McCain good among those whose voters he already has: very conservative Republicans who share Joe's view that Obama is some kind of socialist."
- McCain threw everything had at Obama, but it didn't stick and his rival didn't appear shaken, wrote David Von Drehle in Time. Take-away: "The problem for McCain is that no matter how hard or how crisply he punched, it could not last."
- The lacking economic policies McCain outlined in the debate and his stubborn refusal shift away from the nasty tenor of his campaign underscores his inability to effectively guide the country out of the crisis, editorialized the NYT. Take-away: "Mr. McCain's biggest problem is that he has no big ideas for fixing the country's problems."
- Karl Rove did not mention the debate in his commentary in the WSJ but did write that it's too early for Obama to be measuring the drapes. Take-away: "This week also brought a reminder that Obama hasn't closed the sale."