Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama sharply attacked each other's judgment on Iraq, Iran and Pakistan during Friday's debate. Political analysts and historians react to the candidates' performances.
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I'm here in Washington with syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
David, your overall impressions?
DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:
I miss Ronald Reagan. He didn't know as much about the issues as these gentlemen just demonstrated they did, but he could make a values connection that people will remember weeks later, which I don't think either of them did.
Believe me, I think each of them did fine. I think it was much the better debate than we've seen in four or eight years. I think McCain was sharp and experienced, which he hasn't always been. I thought Obama was knowledgeable and forceful.
But there was a blizzard of policies that I don't think either of them made a values connection with people who don't already agree with them. So my bottom line is I think they both did well, but I don't think this changed the campaign in any fundamental way.
And Mark Shields?
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:
Ray, I think national security is John McCain's wheelhouse. And I think Obama more than held his own factually and empirically tonight. I don't think there was certainly a substantive advantage.
On these, oftentimes it's how people react to them. I thought Obama's manner, the concern that Democrats had going in, would he be Bambi? He wasn't Bambi. He wasn't belligerent or bellicose, but he certainly showed a certain mettle.
And the question with McCain would be, any senior moments? There weren't any senior moments.
But I thought that John McCain's manner — he never looked at Obama. He just insisted on calling him Senator Obama all the way through. There was almost a frostiness and he punctuated, instead of the "my friends," it became "Senator Obama doesn't understand. Senator Obama doesn't understand." And I just think stylistically that didn't work for John McCain.