Page last updated at 08:30 GMT, Monday, 29 September 2008 09:30 UK

Voters' Views: Tom Taber

White House hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain have clashed over foreign policy and the economy in their first debate.

Here Republican and Democratic voters from across the US reflect on how the candidates performed.

Tom Taber Retired | Democrat

My impression was that both candidates are competent to be president

Tom Taber
Age: 58
Lives: San Mateo, California
Occupation: Retired
Last election voted:
In 10 words or less: Optimistic, outdoor-oriented, physically fit, unconventional, non-conformist, sceptical of authority

"I was very impressed by both candidates. I would characterise McCain as experienced and Obama as thoughtful.

McCain demonstrated his superior foreign policy knowledge and experience by citing many trips to trouble spots and meetings with foreign leaders.

Obama held his own, however, by displaying a thorough knowledge of these issues. But it was obvious that his knowledge was from second-hand sources. If it was a sporting event I think it was a virtual tie, with a slight advantage to McCain.

My impression was that both candidates are competent to be president and either would be a big improvement over the current administration.

But both candidates also made contradictory statements which I want to see clarified. Is federal business tax high or low? How do the candidates stand on the financial bail-out bill? Neither answered the question. And where do they stand on military operations inside Pakistan to attack al-Qaeda?

Though I am more inclined to vote for Obama than McCain, his performance didn't overcome my concern that his knowledge on the issues is not rooted in enough real-life experience.

I suspect that independent undecided voters are still undecided."

You can add your comments and questions on Tom's views using the form below:

Your comments:

Tom, I think focusing on Obama's lack of experience in foreign affairs is a wrong angle. There have been many Presidents who have had tons of experience but made horrible presidents. Obama's forward thinking, collective attitude, and obvious intelligible grasp of issues show that he would be great at foreign affairs. The real question is do we want to continue to drain our economy by staying in the Iraq war for arrogant pride issues?
Aideen Rahimi, Walnut Creek, California

To Aideen - Obama is a fast learner and grasps the issues, but still there is no substitute for first-hand experience with foreign policy issues. When I visit foreign countries and speak with the locals I understand what is going on much more deeply than if I read an article or a book about it. Also, it sounds as if Obama wants to transfer our troops from Iraq to Afghanistan rather than bringing them home. How is that going to stop the drain on the economy?
Tom Taber, California

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