John McCain's campaign is the first to declare victory.
"John McCain won tonight's debate with strong, clear straight talk about setting a new direction for our country and fighting for working families. He outlined a specific, bold plan for creating jobs, helping those near retirement, keeping people in their homes, curbing spending, lowering health care costs and achieving energy independence. He vowed to fight for 'Joe the Plumber' every day he is President and he affirmed his belief that we shouldn't raise taxes just to 'spread the wealth.' While Barack Obama is measuring the drapes and campaigning against a man not even on the ballot, John McCain demonstrated that he has the experience, judgment, independence and courage to fight for every American," Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's communications director, said in a statement.
But Barack Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe said in a statement:
“We came into the debate with two-thirds of the American people thinking that John McCain is running a negative campaign, and Senator McCain spent 90 minutes trying to convince the other third. Once again, Barack Obama won a clear victory because he made the case for change for the middle class, while John McCain just had angry and negative attacks. Barack Obama showed the steady leadership that the American people need, and offered specific plans on the issues that matter to the middle class – creating jobs, cutting health care costs, building a new energy policy, and getting our economy moving. Senator McCain said that George Bush isn’t on the ballot, but he couldn’t name a single way that his economic policies will be any different. This was John McCain’s last chance for a game-changer, and he didn’t get it.”
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama's former rival who was in the debate audience, praised Obama. "I thought it was another great performance," she said on CNN. "He's three for three."
Asked on Fox News Channel whether McCain changed the dynamics of the campaign, Clinton replied, "I don’t think so. From my perspective, I thought it was very clear that Barack Obama has sealed the deal with the American voter."
Obama was the winner in a flash poll of undecided voters. In the CBS/Knowledge Networks survey, 53 percent of the uncommitted voters said Obama won, 22 percent said McCain won, and 24 percent saw the debate as a draw.
The instant poll from CNN/Opinion Research Corp. among debate watchers found that 58 percent believed Obama did the best job in the debate, compared to 31 percent for McCain.
In the same poll, 80 percent said they thought McCain was the candidate who spent most of his time attacking, while only 7 percent picked Obama.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.