The Third Debate: And the Pundits Prefer…

The Third Debate: And the Pundits Prefer…

Heading into the final stretch, last night’s presidential debate at Hofstra University gave American’s their last chance to see Sen. John McCain and Barack Obama go toe-to-toe, head-to-head and mano-y-mano on issues that affect our economy, our rights and our national security.  Here are what the major news outlets are saying about who stood out as the victor and who just stood out.

Wall Street Journal: For our money, the best line of the night was Mr. McCain’s Freudian slip of referring to Barack Obama as “Senator Government.” Neither candidate is offering policies that meet the serious economic moment. But Mr. McCain would let Americans keep more of their own income to ride out the downturn, while Mr. Obama is revealing that his default agenda is to spend money and expand the government.

CBS News Poll: Forty percent of the 516 uncommitted voters surveyed identified Barack Obama as tonight’s winner; 26 percent said John McCain won, while 34% saw the debate as a draw.

Associated Press: This time, John McCain kept Barack Obama on the defensive. The feisty Republican tried hard to find a lifeline Wednesday night, challenging his Democratic rival at every turn over his truthfulness, associations and record. By that measure, McCain won the last debate of the 2008 campaign. But that may not be enough. But although the recent economic turmoil seems to have hurt McCain’s standing, the Republican nominee used the intimate format Wednesday to challenge Obama’s economic ideas directly and rebut the Democratic campaign’s central argument, that McCain stands for four more years of Bush administration policies.

New York Times: McCain was more fluent on foreign affairs, and scored points by repeatedly calling Mr. Obama naïve and inexperienced. But McCain’s talk of experience too often made him sound like a tinny echo of the 20th century. At one point, he talked about how Ronald Reagan’s “S.D.I.” helped end the cold war. We suspect that few people under the age of 50 caught the reference. If he was reaching for Reagan’s affable style, he missed by a mile, clenching his teeth and sounding crotchety where Reagan was sunny and avuncular.

The Huffington Post: In politics it is generally not considered a good sign when voters are laughing at you, not with you. And by the end of the third and last presidential debate, the undecided voters who had gathered in Denver for Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg’s focus group were “audibly snickering” at John McCain’s grimaces, eye-bulging, and repeated references to “Joe the Plumber.”

Chicago Sun-Times: But Obama, Mr. Cool — sometimes too cool, especially when he ignored at first McCain’s request to repudiate charges that he and Sarah Palin were promoting racism and violence — did nothing that handed McCain the game-changing debate he needed.