Final Presidential debate set to seal views on candidates

Sean Irwin

Presidential nominees Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona square off tonight for the third and final presidential debate in Hofstra University in NY. Bob Shieffer of CBS News and host of “Face the Nation” will moderate, and the debate is scheduled to focus on domestic and economic policy.

Polls show that Obama has gained several points over McCain since the first debate on Sept. 26, though both prior debates showed neither candidate to be a clear winner. McCain was expected to dominate in both previous debates, in the first because of his experience in the primary topic, foreign policy, and in the second because of its “town hall” format, where McCain has excelled in the past. Despite McCain’s greater experience, Obama impressed audiences with his calm demeanor and directness.

The format of tonight’s debate will be similar to the first debate with stricter, topic-based response segments, follow-up questions from the moderator, and time for the candidates to address each other.

This may prove to be an exciting debate given the vicious turn this presidential race has taken in the last week. In his ads and campaign speeches, McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, of Alaska, have attacked Obama for his association with former activist and “domestic terrorist” William Ayers.

Obama, who was eight years old when Ayers was active, has called this a “swift-boat style attack,” referring to the successful smear campaign against John Kerry during the 2004 presidential race. “It’s not hard to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division,” Obama said in response at a rally last Friday.

There’s reason to address these issues tonight, especially given the reactions of audience members at McCain rallies, who have shouted “terrorist” and even “Arab” when Obama’s name is mentioned. These words from members of his own base have earned admonishments from McCain himself.

Make sure to watch this debate, which will be airing on several news networks at 6 p.m. Pacific time tonight. This will likely be the final opportunity for both presidential nominees to have their say in front of a bipartisan crowd before Election Day, Nov. 4.

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