03:35 It's over. Early verdict: a stalemate leaning towards McCain. Obama's cerebral tone doesn't lend itself to the (stiff) informality of town-hall debates. But the Democrat chose deliberately to speak up to the American public. Will that make a difference? Can McCain's optimism help Americans forget about the economy that threatens to destroy his campaign (first) and then his country?
03:33 "What I don't know is what the unexpected will be" ... McCain lapses into Rumsfeldian prose.
03:25 A veteran raises the spectre of US involvement in an Iran-Israel war. McCain pets the veteran. Yuck. His answer is quite yuck, too.
Obama speaks sensitively about the vulnerable state of Iran's internal energy infrastructure.
03:22 Obama on the Georgia crisis: "We should anticipate these challenges and not just be reactive." Obama-style pre-emption?
03:19 McCain recalls Putin's strange K-G-B contact lenses. Spouts nonsense about the Russian threat. Most Americans will probably soak this stuff up anyway.
03:16 This live-blogger is happy... Brokaw's asking good questions, makes the candidates respond to British defeatism in Afghanistan. Obama hits out at the Karzai government. McCain bigs up Petraeus. Throughout this entire debate, McCain has seemed the optimist and Obama the gloomy pessimist. What happened to Hope?
03:14 Bang! Obama brings up McCain's crazy song about bombing Iran, his desire to attack Iraq, and obliterate North Korea.
03:10 McCain correctly taking Obama to task for his earlier misguided comments about attacking Pakistan. He also slyly suggests that Obama carries a "small stick" (as opposed to Teddy Roosevelt's and his "big stick").
03:08 Best question from the audience so far! Should we treat Pakistan like we treated Cambodia in the Vietnam war? What say you, Barack? Obama quite cautiously emphasises coordination, but promises to "kill" and "crush" al-Qaida.
03:07 Hanoi Hilton, take a bow!
03:03 Brokaw wades in: What is the Obama doctrine regarding humanitarian intervention? Obama: all atrocities "diminish us", but we can't be everywhere at the same time, we have to "mobilise the international community". Taking community organising to the world stage.
02:57 Obama: Healthcare is a right. Government must crack down on insurance companies. Clear, honest and different from McCain. I stand corrected.
02:53 McCain's talking down to Americans in explaining his health care plan, and he's winning. Cerebral and detailed is going to fly over a lot of people's heads (including this sleepy one).
02:50 Obama looks solemn and tired, McCain's much more jovial and casual. This really isn't Barack's debate format.
02:47 Obama makes a robust case for his climate change policy, but then McCain links him to a Bush-Cheney energy bill. The cheek!
02:44 McCain mentions Joe Lieberman A LOT. How does that make Sarah feel?
02:43 Brokaw has African Americans ask McCain questions, and elderly whites ask Obama. A bit tacky.
02:40 A window for the Democrat: Can Obama defend his tax plan convincingly? Yes. Confident and smooth.
02:33 McCain talks emptily about all Americans "working together". Obama mentions expanding PeaceCorps. But Obama's floundering here a bit: he's talking vaguely about specifics, not helping his tax argument. The Republican senses it and compares Obama to Herbert Hoover. Ouch.
02:29 McCain confronts defence spending head-on, criticises contractors. Obama may find this disarming.
02:27 Obama: "in ten years, we'll be free of Middle Eastern oil." Not. Going. To. Happen.
02:23 McCain not happy that Obama bought a projector for a
planetarium in Chicago. Damn straight. Can't people in pork-barrel
Chicago just look at the sky?
02:20 Ok, maybe that was a bit harsh (but bankers are
workers, too, no?). McCain plugs his bi-partisanship credentials again.
What's more life-sapping than bi-partisanship? The diffuse energy of
02:18 McCain: "American workers are the most
innovative in the world." So innovative they can turn a world
superpower into a financial basket case.
02:12 Obama scores big points. Takes on the question directly and in detail... and mentions McCain's Fannie/Freddie lobbyist.
02:11 Warren Buffet getting shot-outs from both candidates.
McCain launches into a defence of the "suspension" of his campaign
before tying Obama to Fannie/Freddie (who was that McCain advisor
lobbying for again?). The question was about the bail-out.
02:06 Answering his first question, McCain gets awfully close to the audience and predictably doesn't say anything specific.
02:04 Obama not afraid to mention the Great Depression straight
away. Strong. Invokes the middle class (whatever idyll/idol that is).
02:00 Cup of tea, check. Pajamas, check. Anodyne BBC intro, check. Here we go. Take us there, Mr. Brokaw!