The debate is underway, and let me say, that this format is much, much better. They are really getting to rebut each other and Schieffer is asking some great questions. Less stump speech lines from both candidates. McCain is coming out much more aggressive but at the same time less angry.
The first question regarding the economy, McCain actually discussed a good populist plan by going in and helping out homeowners, and then I think won the battle regarding taxes. I have said it before and said it again, taxes CANNOT be raised in times of recession, even on really rich people. It will cause the economy to completely stall. The job losses will be staggering.
Regarding the deficit and budget, Obama gave no specific answers about what he would cut, only saying he would "use a scalpel". McCain suggests a spending freeze, and names several budget items that he would cut, including the ethanol subsidies (I agree...ethanol subsidies are foolish).
Regarding the comments by Congressman Lewis, McCain puts Obama back on his heels. McCain points out that he has repudiated some despicable comments made by people within his own party. McCain then brings up Ayers, and Obama tries to defend. He said he will not be a part of his cabinet. Then trying to defend ACORN, a brief defense, but McCain hammers back with allegations about Ayers and ACORN. Wow. These are jarring blows. Obama has not done an adequate job at separating himself from these two situations, and I agree that more investigations are necessary.
Energy policy: I will repeat, Bob Schieffer is asking the best questions. Makes Ifill and Brokaw look like puppet clowns. Bob wants to know how much we can reduce dependency on foreign oil. Earlier McCains points out how a full-force movement for energy independence will create millions of domestic jobs (he is right). McCain says we can achieve energy independence in 7-8 years. Obama says in 10 years. Obama reiterates that it is one of the most important issues (which I agree with). Obama even mentions offshore drilling as a possibility, but points out that domestic production will never equal our consumption. McCain wants to start offshore drilling immediately. Obama wants to limit free trade, McCain is strongly for it, and points out how the US has to pay to export goods to Colombia. Obama points out some the need to examine human rights along with the free trade policies. McCain has another nice zinger about Obama not willing to have free trade with Colombia (supporter of the U.S), but is willing to sit down with Hugo Chavez (non-supporter of the U.S).
Health care: Obama mentions people being able to buy in the same type of health plan as congress and mentions negotiating with pharmaceutical companies. McCain mentions a fitness initiative and the $5000 health-care tax credit. McCain asks what the fine is for not getting involved in his health insurance mandate. Obama replies, "Absolutely zero". He attacks McCains health care tax credit, and he is right that McCain will be taxing health care benefits (bad move Charlie), and that most health care policies cost more than $5000 (about $12,000). Insurance companies will cherry pick and exclude patients from coverage (true). McCain defends the status quo of the current health care system with multiple insurance systems. News flash...it hasn't worked. Premiums have skyrocketed.
Sorry was busy during the past half hour, but overall, I think I have to give this one to McCain. Obama won the first two debates and McCain won this final one. Probably won't make a difference as Obama has a 14 point lead.