Thu, October 09, 2008
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McCain, Obama spar in first debate

2008-09-27 11:01:23 GMT2008-09-27 19:01:23 (Beijing Time) SINA.com

Barack Obama and John McCain battled over spending, taxes and the Iraq war, sharply questioning each other's judgment and ability to lead.

While Obama agreed with positions McCain took eight separate times in the spirited debate, McCain called Obama naive and inexperienced several times -- most notably on Obama's position that he would meet with the leader of Iran with no preconditions in his first year as president.

STORY:

In the first presidential debate between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, the two White House hopefuls clashed repeatedly over spending, taxes and the Iraq war.

With the first half hour of the 90-minute debate devoted to economic issues and the financial crisis on Wall Street, the two candidates said they were optimistic Congress would agree on a $700 billion rescue plan, but agreed the huge price tag would limit their agendas as president.

SOUNDBITE: Barack Obama, presidential candidate, saying (English):

"I want to make sure that we are investing in energy in order to free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. Now, that is a big project. That is a multi-year project. I'm not willing to give up the need to do it, but there may be individual components of it that we can't do."

McCain, for his part, said he would freeze most federal spending as president and accused Obama of being a big-spending liberal who could not bring together Republicans and Democrats.

SOUNDBITE: John McCain, presidential candidate, saying (English):

"Senator Obama has the most liberal voting record in the Senate. It's hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left."

When the debate turned to Iraq, Obama-- who opposed the war as a state Senator from Illinois -- criticized McCain's judgment in supporting the U.S. military invasion.

SOUNDBITE: Barack Obama, presidential candidate, saying (English):

"Not only did we not know how much it was going to cost, what our exit strategy might be, how it would affect our relationships around the world, and whether our intelligence was sound, but also because we hadn't finished the job in Afghanistan."

McCain-- by contrast -- said Obama had shown poor judgment by failing to support the surge policy that sent more U.S. troops to Iraq and has been credited with reducing violence there.

SOUNDBITE: John McCain, presidential candidate, saying (English):

"Senator Obama said the surge could not work, said it would increase sectarian violence, said it was doomed to failure. Recently on a television program, he said it exceed our wildest expectations. But yet, after conceding that, he still says that he would oppose the surge if he had to decide that again today."

While Obama agreed with positions McCain took eight separate times in the spirited debate, McCain called Obama naive and inexperienced several times most notably on Obama's position that he would meet with the leader of Iran with no preconditions in his first year as president.

SOUNDBITE: John McCain, presidential candidate, saying (English):

"Look, I'll sit down with anybody, but there's got to be pre-conditions. Those pre-conditions would apply that we wouldn't legitimize with a face to face meeting, a person like Ahmadinejad."

SOUNDBITE: Barack Obama, presidential candidate, saying (English):

"First of all, Ahmadinejad is not the most powerful person in Iran. So he may not be the right person to talk to. But I reserve the right, as president of the United States to meet with anybody at a time and place of my choosing if I think it's going to keep America safe."

This first debate centered primarily on foreign policy and national security issues. For voters it was the first opportunity to see these two White House hopefuls answering questions on the same stage at the same time-- and take a measure of who will be the next Commander-In-Chief.

(Source: Reuters)

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