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First U.S. Presidential Debate


With five weeks of the campaign left, the two presidential candidates, Republican Senator John McCain and Democrat Senator Barack Obama, took the stage on September 26 in the first presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi.
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With five weeks of the campaign left, the two presidential candidates, Republican Senator John McCain and Democrat Senator Barack Obama, took the stage on September 26 in the first presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi.

There was controversy before the debate started, with McCain saying he would not attend unless the U.S. Congress approved a $700 billion plan to bail out the struggling U.S. economy. But after progress was made on the plan, McCain agreed to take part.
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There was controversy before the debate started, with McCain saying he would not attend unless the U.S. Congress approved a $700 billion plan to bail out the struggling U.S. economy. But after progress was made on the plan, McCain agreed to take part.

The first one-third of the debate focused on the recent upheaval in the U.S. economy, in particular a White House-backed proposal, now being negotiated by Congress, to rescue Wall Street by bailing out struggling banks.
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The first one-third of the debate focused on the recent upheaval in the U.S. economy, in particular a White House-backed proposal, now being negotiated by Congress, to rescue Wall Street by bailing out struggling banks.

McCain and Obama both criticized banks and brokerages for making loans to millions of home-buyers without determining the borrowers' ability to repay them. The practice has ended up with a plague of foreclosures that have bankrupted many lenders.
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McCain and Obama both criticized banks and brokerages for making loans to millions of home-buyers without determining the borrowers' ability to repay them. The practice has ended up with a plague of foreclosures that have bankrupted many lenders.

But foreign policy remained the focus, in particular how the United States should deal with a resurgent oil-rich Russia. On Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, McCain said, "I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes and I saw three letters: a K, a G, and a B," referring to the Soviet-era security agency.
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But foreign policy remained the focus, in particular how the United States should deal with a resurgent oil-rich Russia. On Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, McCain said, "I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes and I saw three letters: a K, a G, and a B," referring to the Soviet-era security agency.

Both candidates criticized Russia's August invasion of Georgia, with Obama saying that "a resurgent and very aggressive Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the region."
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Both candidates criticized Russia's August invasion of Georgia, with Obama saying that "a resurgent and very aggressive Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the region."

The two candidates clashed on foreign policy with regard to the United States' war in Iraq and the debate over Iran's nuclear program.
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The two candidates clashed on foreign policy with regard to the United States' war in Iraq and the debate over Iran's nuclear program.

McCain praised the U.S. "surge" strategy, which has put some 30,000 extra U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. But Obama said McCain was "wrong" to support the U.S. war in Iraq as it distracted the United States from the fight against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
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McCain praised the U.S. "surge" strategy, which has put some 30,000 extra U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq. But Obama said McCain was "wrong" to support the U.S. war in Iraq as it distracted the United States from the fight against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The two candidates also disagreed on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. Senator Obama said that it was the United States' first priority to ensure that Iran doesn't acquire nuclear weapons, but said that Washington would have to "engage in tough, direct diplomacy with Iran."
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The two candidates also disagreed on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. Senator Obama said that it was the United States' first priority to ensure that Iran doesn't acquire nuclear weapons, but said that Washington would have to "engage in tough, direct diplomacy with Iran."

McCain responded by saying Obama's foreign policy was "naive" and that it was "dangerous" to "sit down across the table from someone [Iran] who has called Israel a 'stinking corpse,' and wants to destroy that country and wipe it off the map."
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McCain responded by saying Obama's foreign policy was "naive" and that it was "dangerous" to "sit down across the table from someone [Iran] who has called Israel a 'stinking corpse,' and wants to destroy that country and wipe it off the map."

The debate ended after 90 minutes, with most analysts saying that both candidates were overly cautious. Obama and McCain will meet to debate two more times before the November 4 election. Their vice-presidential candidates, Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Sarah Palin, will also debate on October 2.
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The debate ended after 90 minutes, with most analysts saying that both candidates were overly cautious. Obama and McCain will meet to debate two more times before the November 4 election. Their vice-presidential candidates, Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Sarah Palin, will also debate on October 2.

Up to an estimated 60 million Americans watched the debate around the country. With the McCain and Obama camps both claiming victory, the question for the U.S. media was, "who won?" Many commentators agreed that the debate was evenly matched, with no knockout blows for either side.
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Up to an estimated 60 million Americans watched the debate around the country. With the McCain and Obama camps both claiming victory, the question for the U.S. media was, "who won?" Many commentators agreed that the debate was evenly matched, with no knockout blows for either side.

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