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Analysts Preview Final Presidential Debate

Wednesday marks the final meeting of the two major presidential candidates in a debate, where they will discuss the relevant issues. Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss what will be in play during the debate.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And finally tonight, what to expect on and from tonight's third and final presidential debate, as seen by Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    How many times have we heard that, "Oh, this is it for John McCain"? Is it really it for John McCain tonight, Mark?

    MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist: Hey, it was it for John McCain last summer. Last fall in New Hampshire, it was it for John McCain.

    Jim, we're running out of times for John McCain. And I think what John McCain has to do — first, he has to win tonight. It can't be a question of, you know…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    What is win? What…

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Win is if there's a consensus, not simply of the voters who watch it, the independents, but that he comes out of it with a second-day story for this debate.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    So the pundit class has to see it, as well?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Well, that's right. But I think that it has to be — he has to have a theme tonight from this debate that carries him for the next two weeks. He can't be retooling come next Thursday or retooling again this weekend.

    And I think the most compelling story he's got is that John McCain is a fighter. I think it's believable. I think he has to tell you why he's made those fights, not simply he's fought with his party and Obama hasn't, but why he made those fights, why he disagreed, what difference it made in people's lives, and what difference he would make in people's lives.

    I think he's exhausted mining, if you would, the anti-Obama stuff. I don't think there's anything left there for him. He's got to make the case for John McCain.