Janice Shaw Crouse


The consensus is that the second presidential debate was boring. Pundits pronounced John McCain the winner on substance and Barack Obama the winner on style. Since then, Obama has edged ahead of McCain in the polls making for a very high-stakes 3rd presidential debate.  By being ahead in the polls and already the presumptive winner, Senator Obama can coast through this week’s debate on substance (as he has the two previous debates) and rely on his “presidential” image to carry him through. Obama’s only concern during this debate will be to avoid making a major gaffe (which is highly unlikely this late in the campaign).

Senator McCain, though, has to win solidly on both substance and image if he is to have a chance at reversing the current trends to win the presidency. Pundits agree that if McCain is not a solid winner on Wednesday night, Obama’s momentum will increase and he will easily win the election –– probably by a landslide.

The stakes could not be higher for Senator McCain.

In this week’s final debate, John McCain needs to be focused, concise and pointed.  To be blunt, Senator McCain needs to come out of the debate as the acknowledged winner to make a difference in the end run of this presidential race.  If the debate on Wednesday night is boring or simply a draw, Senator McCain will almost certainly lose the election. The debate must fundamentally change the dynamics of the campaign and be an election game changer. 

Over the weekend, Senator McCain acknowledged the worries produced by the financial crisis and the fact that the way the crisis is handled will affect the nation’s future.  He asked, “Will we continue to lead the world's economies, or will we be overtaken? Will the world become safer or more dangerous? Will our military remain the strongest in the world? Will our children and grandchildren's future be brighter than ours?”

Those are the questions worrying American voters in the days preceding the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday, October 15th at Hofstra University, moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News.

Here are the three things that should be top priority for Senator McCain in that debate if he wants to change the direction that the election seems currently headed.

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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