Friday, September 26, 2008

Plenty of Punches ... But No Knockout

I'm sure partisans on both sides will be spinning like mad to say their man won tonight's Presidential Debate. I covered the October 11, 1992 debate in St. Louis between Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot. I was fortunate enough to be seated in the audience and not the media area for that traditional-style debate so I've seen these at close range and on TV. One thing is certain given the record of such encounters over the years - knockout punches are well-remembered but rare.

Tonight both Barack Obama and John McCain landed some punches, but neither delivered a knockout blow. Given Obama's recent momentum courtesy of the economic crisis a draw would seem to favor him. But I've never thought these debates settled the issue of who would win as much as they reinforced already-held beliefs. Still, as some long-time political hacks have pointed out, you may not win because of debates but they sure can help you lose.

UPDATE: A snap-poll gives Obama a slight edge, but still points to a pretty even split among the 411 undecideds polled by the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.


Anonymous said...

Did you hear Ross address his supporters at the Marriott after the debate? That was the REAL scoop -

Evans Donnell said...

I was too busy filing copy at that point. I think Ross put the final nail in Bush's coffin that night. That's my biggest memory of him that evening. That and the fact that he was so much smaller than Bush and Clinton as they stood on stage together. I knew he wasn't a tall guy like them but the contrast was still startling nevertheless.