Page last updated at 05:13 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 06:13 UK
McCain and Obama clash in TV debate

A review of expert verdicts on the second of 2008's three presidential debates

Writer Verdict McCain score Obama score
Moe Lane, RedState "McCain got some good shots in with Fannie/Freddie, Obama got a good moment or two betraying the progressives over nuclear power, offshore drilling, and Israel. I'll give the closing statement to McCain, but Obama humanises amazingly when he's talking about his wife. No insanely bad howlers this go-round. This was, in fact, kind of boring all around." *** ***
Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic This debate was "devastating and possibly electorally fatal" for John McCain - a "wipe-out". The Democratic candidate came out on top on substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority. Mr McCain appeared "a little out of it". * *****
Hugh Hewitt, Townhall Mr McCain made up a lot of ground in this debate. He was strong on two of his most important points - taxes and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr Obama appeared cautious and evidently inexperienced. The Republican finished stronger, while Mr Obama "flailed about ineffectively". ***** *
Jim Geraghty, National Review blog "Generally dull... and a bunch of answers that were very predictable to those of us who have been following this race. Because he's trailing, we needed to see something different from McCain tonight. It wasn't a bad night for him, and most of his answers were fine. But there wasn't anything that any of us are going to remember in a couple of days." ** **
Jennifer Rubin, Pajamas Media "Fireworks there were not. The debate lagged and dragged and at times was downright dull. The most decisive moment on national security occurred at the end where McCain bonded with a chief petty officer questioner and pledged to support Israel in defending itself against a nuclear-armed Iran." But Mr McCain did himself some good in the debate. The "polished orator" Barack Obama, meanwhile, "fumbled" an easy final question. **** **
Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo "A marginal victory for Obama on points," says Josh Marshall, but a "substantial" one in terms of the overall race. "McCain did fine. I think his supporters will think he put in a solid performance. But the bottom line is that right now McCain is losing. He has to shake things up. But he didn't." ** ****
Robert Shrum, Huffington Post "The reality of this debate is that McCain didn't pass the threshold on the economy. He can't get there with blather about earmarks; the voters aren't dumb. The big story tonight: Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of President Obama." * *****

The scores assigned to the candidates represent the BBC's interpretation of the writers' comments. One star indicates a poor performance, five stars an excellent one.

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