John McCain just missed what could be his last chance to knock out Barack Obama, said E.J. Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post. McCain “is supposed to own the foreign policy issue, and he should have owned Friday’s presidential debate.” McCain repeatedly said Obama didn’t understand world politics, but Obama was “resolutely calm in standing his ground.”
“When the overarching issue is who'd be the best commander in chief, as it was in the first debate, Mr. McCain prevails,” said Fred Barnes in The Wall Street Journal. But the financial crisis has turned this into a “domestic policy election,” so this debate and the two remaining ones won’t add up to a plus for McCain.
“Obama and McCain looked like equals onstage,” said John Dickerson in Slate. So call the first debate a tie. “In a tough year for Republicans with Obama leading in the polls, that's a victory for the Democrat.”