The final face-off: who swayed Joe the Plumber?

During their third and final debate, John McCain and Barack Obama tried to appeal to average Americans such as Joe Wurzelbacher, a plumber from Ohio, who McCain frequently referred to as “Joe the plumber.” But this final face-off wasn’t convincing enough to change our Observers’ opinions.


During their third and final debate, John McCain and Barack Obama tried to appeal to average Americans such as Joe Wurzelbacher, a plumber from Ohio, who McCain frequently referred to as “Joe the plumber.” But this final face-off wasn’t convincing enough to change our Observers’ opinions.


"Whoever wins is assuming a thankless job"

Edgar Thornton, Director of a college department, Iowa (Republican)

The last debate is now over and I think we may be finally seeing the end of the longest campaign. Wow, here in Iowa they've campaigning for two years.

Can you believe that? I want to emphasize the length of this race. Both of them, and particularly Obama, have been campaigning for a job which, with the economy in this state, either may come to hate in a couple of years.

Whoever wins is assuming a thankless job, millions are going to dislike him and not trust him.

Millions will question his truthfulness and credibility to lead.

With the issue of possible ACORN vote-rigging, people on my side will question the validity of this election result for years.

Our country will be faced with mounting debt, which our children's children will have to deal with. I do not envy the winner and as a solid Midwestern, church-going Christian, I will committ myself to lots of prayers for the Democrats because it looks like we did not get him tonight and they are going to win.

They will need to pray because there is a lot of work to be done and I am still not convinced they and specifically their new leader are up to it.

Overall, both candidates looked flat and the discussion was boring. Sure, Obama gave explanations for his shortcomings and past associations with questionable people, but McCain never had the outside kick good enough to make a goal.

Pure defense was on display tonight, no political theatre. As I have said before about the world economy - socialism is now on the march and is here in America with our government's economic solutions.

After tonight it looks like we are going to get a socialist president too."

"One Punkish, one presidential"

Linda Sharp, parenting writer, Austin TX (Independent)

I will give McCain this - he obviously drank his Red Bull tonight. But just like Britney Spears toked up on energy-in-a-can, he was manic, unfocused, churlish, and disrespectful.

At no point did I worry about him "landing the punches" Republicans have been warning about all day - he is a schoolyard bully, a punk, and a bully's biggest fear is always that the person they are picking on will actually stand up and fight back. So he brought Ayers up.

It's not like it has been vetted, researched, written about, discussed, dissected, and DONE for well over a year (heavy on the sarcasm). And Obama calmly, and in measured tone set the record straight, handing McCain his wrinkled ass to wear as a hat in the process.

And while it would have been humorous to watch Obama bring up names like Hagee, Parsley, Liddy, and his own VP running mate in terms of questionable affiliations with some 'splainin' to do, I understand why he did not. He has taken the high road throughout this campaign. And it has got him an average of ten points ahead in the polls.

But it did not matter that Obama spoke clearly and plainly about Ayers.

Even with the facts still hanging in the air before him, McCain smiled that shit eating, Grinch-like grin of his and called Obama a liar.

Which is the tactic of both McCain and Palin.

If they say something out loud, it is true. Palin is found to have abused her power as Governor, violated ethics in office, but because she says "I was vindicated," the official report is suddenly a lie? Sorry, Sarah. You were, and are, in trouble over your activities as Governor. And I'd still like to hear you explain away telling the AIG to "keep up the good fight" to secede from the United States.

Look, this debate, like the two before, is not going to change any minds. It may help some undecided voters decide, but it's not going to change anything that IS.

McCain supporters will continue to look past his pick of an ill-equipped, lacking in intelligence, mean girl from Alaska, they will ignore the plethora of lies, ethics violations, questionable affiliations, and poor policy. Obama supporters will continue to support him.

We will continue to fund his campaign. (Love how McCain managed to whine about that - news flash John - all that money? WE are sending it willingly to the campaign because you and Moose Mama scare the bejesus out of us, and because for the first time in our lives, someone has made us believe that YES WE CAN.)

And that was the biggest difference of the night.

The closing remarks. McCain's? ALL ABOUT HIM. Obama's? ALL ABOUT US.

YES WE CAN. And YES WE WILL. (Now go to bed, John. The crash from Red Bull is hard enough on a twenty-something.)"

"If Joe the Plumber makes over $ 250,000 US, he’s RICH"

Tim Kenney, Branding Consultant, Bethesda Maryland (Democrat)

This is by far the most interesting Presidential campaign I’ve ever watched.

And I thought both Candidates did well. McCain in particular. ...

Finally we got to hear about the three “E’s.”

Energy: McCain’s plan was clearer and I was pleased that he didn’t focus only on the “drill, baby, drill” plans. I liked his inclusion of other energy sources including wind, solar and natural gas. Obama was less clear, but I liked his stressing that energy is a key plank in his platform.

Economy: I don’t like McCain’s “buy-back” mortgages plan. And I don’t like or trust his health care program. I’m shocked at the taxing of health care benefits for the first time. I do like Obama’s tax cut plan and don’t mind that Joe the Plumber is going to be taxed - if Joe the Plumber makes over US$250,000, he’s RICH.

Education: Loved Obama’s line that “America’s Youth are not an interest group.” I'm very much in favor of his send-kids-to-college plan. I don’t agree with either candidate on the school voucher system, though and I HATE the “No Child Left Behind” program that Bush initiated - what a failure! - so I gotta go with Obama.

I liked Obama’s reasonableness. I don’t like McCain’s fighter pilot stance.

I don’t want another fighter. I want someone who will bring us together. And what’s up the Grumpy McNasty grimaces while Obama was talking?

McCain’s temper and reactivity still bother me.

I DON’T want that in a president. I want a calm and steady leader. I don’t like the continued negativity on the part of McCain, and neither did the audience reaction meters.

You’d think he would have figured this out by now. His constituents scare me with comments like “kill Obama.” Where did this come from? Oh, right, Sarah Palin is out there bear-baiting the masses.

Score? McCain did better than I expected. But Obama looks like he could be the best president we’ve had in decades! I’m looking forward to his changes, and will breathe a great sigh of relief when he’s elected."

"This debate was a waste of time"

Jim Wilkinson, business-owner, Mercedes TX (Republican)

There's nothing that Obama could say tonight that would make me vote for him. I liked the way McCain put him on the defense and see Obama frustrated once in a while.

This debate was a waste of time because most people have already made their choice.

They covered most of the issues pretty well except illegal immigration and no matter who is elected president – this issue will never be raised. They'll simply flood this country with illegal immigrants.

And finally these debates were not about who's the best speaker, they were about past policies and the candidates' opinion on them. We're looking to elect a president, not the best speaker."

"Debates only cement what you already believe"

Ernesto Haibi, U.S. Army medic, Copperas Cove TX (Independent)

Well we saw the standard debate scenario from both sides, though McCain did manage to skirt his way around facts and responses.

I find it interesting how Obama is called a Socialist while McCain wants to buy my house and give me $5,000 for insurance.

Obama stilll gets hell about his taxes but McCain just says the lie loud enough to drown out reason.

McCain did manage to say he was proud of his supporters (even the psychos by extension) while Obama supporters are terrorists. McCain has just as many right wing kooks who support him.

You can't hold a candidate to their supporters. Obama hit back as hard as he got, but Americans only hear what they want. Debates only cement what you already believe.

What I just couldn't believe was McCain saying we have finally achieved equal access to schools. The redneck trailer park school, the ghetto school, and the rural schools don't have internet at every desk like the 90210 schools.

To think that education has become equal is as ignorant as thinking that racism is dead in the world.

Failed policy and failed policy makers must be pushed out. America will be a corporate fascist government soon if we don't reclaim our country. Hard numbers will always trump emotional responses...except in America."

"Obama is an elitist snob"

Alexander Stone Dale, former cab driver, Manhattan NY (Republican)

The subject of education was the slowly lobbed softball that Senator McCain could have knocked out of the park.

I love pointing out that I grew up in the Chicago neighborhood that the Obama family now lives in and every time the Senator brings up the ‘failed’ schools that he won’t send his daughters to – he is referring to the public schools I went to.

Not only did I turn out well educated as a result of public schools – I also never ended up socializing with American terrorist William Ayers who like Senator Obama is an elitist snob who doesn’t believe in public schools either."

"President Obama will be taking office soon"

Julissa Reynoso, attorney, New York (Democrat)

This debate confirmed Obama's superiority. And will surely consolidate his lead.


Julissa and her friends watched the debate in a bar


I am glad the moderator brought up the negative attacks. Obama clearly points out that he doesn't mind the attacks (like the former radical William Ayers story) so long as his economic plans are the ideas the American people are talking about - and not the negative, misleading messages from the McCain camp.

The polls clearly demonstrate that the American public cares little about the negative attacks and wants to hear about what the candidates propose to do to tackle the country's vast economic problems.

Another point of great importance was the discussion about the readiness of the vice presidental picks. It is clear that Biden is better positioned than Palin to run the country.

Biden has vast experience in foreign policy matters and years of leadership in the Senate which will facilitate his ability to get things done at the federal level. Palin does not have any of these advantages and has demonstrated a lack of sophistication with respect to the mechanics of national policies.

Lastly, although foreign policy and the economy have filled the airways, the question posed about education is perhaps the most pertinent and urgent. Education reform will require the most comprehensive policy ideas, and will have the most long-term impact on American society.

The McCain response consists of the boilerplate points which candidates have been repeating for decades. Obama has demonstrated a willingness to reform the system and allocate funding to those programs and initiatives that have proven most effective.

November 4 is around the corner and it is looking like President Obama will be taking office soon."