Most pundits assumed John McCain would trounce Barack Obama at last night’s debate in Nashville. The town hall-style, some said, benefited the Republican candidate. Well, that didn’t seem to be the case, as neither candidate truly burst out and made a lasting impression. Not a good one anyway.
The majority of the conversation concerned the dying economy, but the most notable moment came as the men were discussing our nation’s energy policy. You know what we’re talking about – when John McCain referred to Barack Obama as “that one.”
There was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me.”
The Obama campaign seized on the disrespectful moment as staffers criticized McCain:
“It reminds you that McCain is sort of angry and agitated. He looked uncomfortable,” Robert Gibbs said in the spin room, “I guess the pillow seat wasn’t soft enough. He stood and walked around.”
Both David Axelrod and David Plouffe agreed that the comment was “odd.” “Last time we had the debate, Senator McCain didn’t want to look at Senator Obama and he made this reference today,” Axelrod said, “He seems a little bit irascible, a little bit peevish.”
The move also did nothing to win over voters. A CBS poll found that 40% of undecided voters feel Obama won the debate, while McCain only convinced 26%. Thirty-four believed the candidates tied.
Nor were the media impressed by McCain’s performance. MSNBC’s Mike Barnacle this morning said it seemed McCain was debating an “incumbent president,” while the NY Times‘ Adam Nagourney wrote, “There was no indication that the debate did anything to change the course of a campaign that appeared to be moving in Mr. Obama’s direction.”
We’ve included the “That One” video after the jump…