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September 29, 2008

Presidential Debate: How Did They Do?


In their first debate, Senators Obama and McCain talked about the crisis on Wall Street and how a government bailout would affect their spending priorities, tax policy, and foreign policy.

Moderator Jim Lehrer questioned the candidates on the lessons they’ve learned from the Iraq War, and what they would do about Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.

Conditions for meeting with foreign leaders and the next step for U.S. military presence in Iraq were especially contentious topics.


See the full transcript of the debate.

Warm Up Questions

1. Are you interested in the presidential debates? Why or why not?

2. Do you think there are still undecided voters who haven’t decided whether to vote for McCain or Obama? Why haven’t they decided yet?

3. What makes someone a good debater? How can you decide whether someone has won a debate or not?

4. Follow along with our debate guide.

Discussion Questions

1. Who do you think won the debate? Why?

2. Which questions did they not answer? Why do you think that was?

3. What insights did the debate give you about how either man would govern as president?

4. Take a look at high school debater Will Rafey’s assessment of the debate. Do agree? Why or why not?

Additional Resources

Rating the Debate – Audience Ballot and Guide

Transcript of the First Presidential Debate

High School Debate Will Rafey Rates the Debate

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