Obama, McCain engage in spirited debate over economy, foreign policy

October 8th, 2008 - 1:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Nashville, Oct.8 (ANI): Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain engaged in a spirited second debate here on Tuesday night, with a focus on the current economic mess and their respective stances on key foreign policy issues.
The debate, which was held at Belmont University, saw Obama faulting the Bush administration and by extension McCain for a deregulatory environment that he said had led to the nations economic crisis.
McCain, on the other hand, pledged to aid struggling homeowners, offered a new proposal to direct the federal government to save families from foreclosure by purchasing mortgages that were no longer affordable.
According to the New York Times, Obama aggressively engaged McCain throughout the debate, and repeatedly focused on bread-and-butter struggles of Americans, vowing to help them with a rescue package for the middle class, and not just banks and insurance companies on Wall Street.
The first part, he said, was tax cuts for all American households making less than 250,000 dollars a year.
It means help for homeowners so that they can stay in their homes. It means that we are helping state and local governments set up road projects and bridge projects that keep people in their jobs. And then long term weve got to fix our health care system, weve got to fix our energy system that is putting such an enormous burden on families, Obama said.
While Obama and McCain were outwardly civil to one another, they watched each other warily, sometimes with a thin smile, sometimes with a look of exasperation, as the other spoke directly to members of the audience. And sometimes, McCain strolled across the stage as Obama spoke, generously peppering his answers with the words my friends.
McCain aggressively pursued Obamas record in the Senate, claiming he had voted for billions of dollars in unneeded spending, including three million dollars for a projector for a planetarium in Chicago.
Obama said that McCains campaign manager, Rick Davis, had accepted money for consulting for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage giants taken over by the federal government last month to protect them from collapse.
Neither Obama nor McCain offered an optimistic view of the American economy.
Obama said that the nation was reaping the bitter fruit of eight years of the Bush administrations fiscal mismanagement and drive to deregulate markets. McCain said that the way out of the current crisis depends on what actions the government takes.
He said that one of his priorities would be to rid Washington of cronyism, greed and corruption.
Pressed to name the most urgent problems they would address health care, entitlement spending, or energy Obama cited energy and health care first, while McCain said there was need to prioritize, but then said entitlement spending should be put in check first.
Obama often sought to connect with the crowd in personal terms.
He spoke of the importance of spending 15 billion dollars a year over 10 years to become energy independence, noting Youre paying 3.80 dollars here in Nashville for gasoline. But he also called for making health care more accessible, saying that the broken health care system is bad, not only for families, but its making our businesses less competitive.
He questioned the wisdom of McCains tax cut plan, which he said would cost the nation 300 billion dollars and would benefit large corporations, including oil companies.
Both candidates also repeated some of their favorite refrains and charges from the campaign trail.
This was the second of three debates between Obama and McCain sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The two vice-presidential candidates — Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska — faced off last week in their only debate of the campaign.
The terms of the three meetings between the presidential candidates were negotiated with the commission by the two campaigns. By agreement, this debate was in a town hall-style format, with screened questions coming from the 80 uncommitted voters in the audience and from people who submitted questions over the Internet.
Tom Brokaw, the longtime former anchor of the NBC Nightly News, was the moderator.
The first debate, on Sept. 26 at the University of Mississippi, was marked by sharp exchanges on the financial crisis, taxes, government regulation, budget earmarks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The last of the presidential debates is scheduled for October 15 at Hofstra University on Long Island. (ANI)

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