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McCain and Obama clash in TV debate



A selection of highlights from the second US presidential debate between Republican John McCain and his Democratic rival, Barack Obama.

FOREIGN POLICY

Candidates trade Iran insults

John McCain repeated the mantra of his hero Teddy Roosevelt - "Talk softly but carry a big stick" - adding that Barack Obama liked "to talk loudly". Mr Obama fired back that Mr McCain wanted to "bomb bomb bomb" Iran and "annihilate" North Korea. He also criticised the Republican for supporting Pakistan's former military regime.

In response, Mr McCain insisted he knew how to handle a crisis - and how to "get" Osama Bin Laden. "But I'm not going to telegraph my punches", he said.

NO JOKE?

McCain on treasury secretary

There were light-hearted moments. In one, Mr McCain answered a question from moderator Tom Brokaw about who he would appoint as treasury secretary in the tough economic climate with a joke: "Not you."

But the remark came early in the debate, and did not raise many laughs.

DOMESTIC PRIORITIES

McCain and Obama on priorities

Both candidates were asked to list in order of priority three domestic policies - reform of healthcare, energy policy and social security.

John McCain said that as president he would work on all three plans at once. Barack Obama said addressing energy policy was the US's most urgent priority, followed by healthcare reform.

PAKISTAN

Obama: Difficult situation in Pakistan

Mr Obama said the difficult situation the US faced in Pakistan was a result of bad judgement over Iraq. He said the Iraq war had distracted the US and diverted resources, allowing Osama Bin Laden to escape to a safe haven in Pakistan.

He insisted the US had to change its policies on Pakistan and refused to rule out going after Osama Bin Laden, even in Pakistani territory.

'THAT ONE'

McCain calls Obama 'that one'

John McCain made much of his record as an opponent of earmarks on legislation, or "pork barrel" spending (when millions of dollars are tagged on to bills in Congress, as lawmakers haggle for favours in return for their support).

In his answer, though, he appeared to make a dismissive reference to his opponent, waving his hand and calling him "that one".

THE 'EVIL EMPIRE'

Is Russia an 'evil empire'?

President Ronald Reagan will always be remembered for his description of the USSR as an "evil empire". With tensions between Russia and the US at a post-Cold War high, the candidates were asked whether the term was relevant once again.

Both were asked for a "yes" or "no" answer, but failed to comply. Barack Obama said Russia had "nationalist impulses", while John McCain ventured only "Maybe". He said the US could "deal with" Russia if it stood firm and defended its interests.


IRAQ

Obama: I don't understand Iraq invasion

Barack Obama said he still did not understand why the US invaded a country that he said had nothing to do with the 9/11 terror attacks, and repeated his criticism of John McCain for supporting the war.

He said the war had had a major impact on the US federal budget, costing some $10bn each month. "We need that $10bn each month here in the United States," he said.

WHAT DON'T YOU KNOW?

Candidates on what they 'don't know'

The final question of the night was a "zen-like" poser, sent in via the internet. "What don't you know and how will you learn it?" the candidates were asked.

Both candidates managed to turn the question round to praise America and the American people. Both spoke of the difficult challenges facing the next president, and both echoed themes of their campaigns - for Mr Obama, his rise to prominence from a humble background, and for Mr McCain, his record of service and his willingness to put "country first".

SNUBBED HANDSHAKE?

An interesting end

One of the most controversial moments came at the very end. Bloggers and tweeters had a field day trying to figure out whether Mr McCain snubbed Mr Obama's offer of a post-debate handshake.

Debate-watchers scrutinised the footage as the two candidates shook hands with members of the audience. For a moment Mr Obama holds out his hand, apparently in the direction of Mr McCain. What happened next?





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