By ANNE LONGERBEAM
Presidential candidates Senator Barack Obama of the Democratic Party, and Senator John McCain of the Republican Party, met for their third and final debate last Wednesday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
Before I started watching the debate, I was an undecided voter. Even though I had attended a recent rally at UMW for Obama and Joe Biden, Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, I was still unsure of whose policies I agreed with more.
As the debate began, McCain diligently focused on a recent comment made by Obama to Joe Wurzelbacher, nicknamed “Joe the Plumber,” from Holland, Ohio. Wurzelbacher stopped Obama while Obama was campaigning on his street, asking whether he would have to pay higher taxes as an owner of a small business. Obama responded to Joe.
“I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” Obama said.
It seemed as if the entire debate revolved around “Joe the Plumber.” His name was brought up in response to question after question, with a total of 24 shout-outs to this newfound celebrity. Being an undecided voter, I vehemently wished for both candidates to ignore “Joe the Plumber” and explain more in depth about their views on the serious issues at hand.
The debate did stress the current economic crisis when Joe was not mentioned; the candidates stated how they would help to resolve the crisis when elected in three weeks. Obama presented one of his main goals to help out Americans financially: tax cuts for 95 percent of working Americans. McCain stated that he would help out small business owners, like, who else —“Joe the Plumber”— by keeping their tax rate at 35 percent.
Bob Schieffer of CBS News conducted the debate, asking one question to the candidates to reflect on their commercial ethics. Schieffer said that McCain’s commercials included comments about Obama such as “disrespectful,” “dangerous,” “dishonorable,” and “he lied.” On the other hand, Obama’s commercials included comments about McCain such as “erratic,” “out of touch,” “lie,” “angry,” and “losing his bearings.”
McCain stated that he regretted the negative aspects of both campaigns, while putting himself in a positive light, claiming that every time a Republican made a false allegation toward Obama, he has repudiated the remarks.
When it was time for Obama to rebuke these claims, Obama avoided the allegations made by McCain. Obama accused McCain of running 100 percent negative commercials. Obama also tried to steer clear of the entire topic of ethical campaigning, claiming that the American people want the candidates to address more relevant issues.
I couldn’t agree more with Obama – I think that the American people need to listen intently for the candidates’ stance on more important issues than “Joe the Plumber.” However, I also want clear answers from a candidate, which Obama did not present during the debate.
As the debate concluded, I did not feel as if I gained enough background in the candidates’ stances on the political issues involved. Back at square one, I still categorize myself as an undecided voter.
Regardless of my final decision, I will make sure to vote on election day, as Virginia is a very important swing state in the election this year.