Sort of a pity. I liked the format of the last (Presidential) debate where the candidates were given time to respond to each other. These Town Hall things are usually pure artifice, though. There’s little point in having some random person read pre-selected question and then having his mic cut, it just gives a transparent illusion of public participation, and its only real effect is to leave time for fewer questions and allow the candidates to ignore each other even more.
FWIW, McCain is supposedly very good at TownHall type forums, but I believe those are usually campaign stops where the candidate actually has some interaction and give-and-take with participants, so I don’t know how much of that will translate to this debate.
Wait a second. So, the moderator can’t ask questions, follow up, or make comments. The audience member can’t follow up or make comments, and the candidates can’t ask each other direct questions. How is that different from giving canned speaches interspersed with the other guy giving his canned speach? It doesn’t seem like a debate at all, to me.
I predict McCain will come out swinging and attempt to dirve the debate to “character” and “experience” – that is, he will follow his current campaign tactics by bringing up Obama’s ties to Ayers et al. This will hopefully give Obama a chance to clear the air once and for all (“I was 8 yrs old when Ayers did xyz”). Or he will remain on the defensive all night which will cost him.
Obama will try to remain above the fray – this will be very difficult as McCain becomes increasingly desperate (as he is) to try to change the “dialogue” of the campaign and score points. It’s almost to the point where McCain has nothing to lose and will attack, attack, attack.
So long as Obama brings it back to the economy and Bush’s terrible tenure he will win on points, but don’t expect a knockout.
If there is anything a politician is good at it is barely answering a question and shifting to a prepared stump speech. With no one to hold their feet to the fire they will absolutely be free and clear to yap their mouths about whatever suits them. They will both do this although from watching the previous debates Obama/Biden seem a bit better at sort of sticking to the question. McCain/Palin barely bother at all. Hell, IIRC Palin pointed out she would answer questions her own way and not be forced into a discussion she did not want.
Why? Because McCain is sort of screwed with the format. McCain loves him some town halls. All the media says that McCain shines at town halls. McCain’s best performances are town hall debates…
Except this isn’t really a “town hall” except in name. So McCain is entering into a fairly standard style debate with raised expectations that he’s supposed to blow this one out with his town hall mojo. Provided Obama can at least hold his own and give back as well as he takes, people will be saying “Obama did well, even though it was a town hall – McCain’s best format!”
Yes. McCain likes town hall meetings because he can (or could) create synergy with the audience–he wouldn’t be a bad preacher or con artist (in terms of this skill). He can read how an audience is moving and hit the buzz words. Given that there is no follow up etc, though, some of the give and play is gone. Also, he cannot dominate the stage by physically moving around (all the while saying “eh” and “my friends”–he sounds like an old fart now). Obama can’t upstage McCain either, but Obama can speak eloquently–he has less need to move around.
I almost dread this tonight and the last one, too. I just want it over with. I don’t know if I can sit through another castigation session by Mr Honor and POW (cough, cough). I think Obama will do well, I just don’t want to sit through the BS, but like a bad car accident, I cannot look away…
A smooth politician can bring the response back to favorable talking points rather than the question without being noticed. A less smooth one coffsarahpalincoff can do so if she doesn’t mind being outragously blatant about it.