Someone must of put something in John McCain’s corn flakes this morning. After another sort-of subpar start, McCain kicked it into another gear, going after Obama on issue after issue and fielding Obama’s attacks more skillfully than he had in their first two encounters. Moreover, in the last hour or so of the debate McCain began to sound (almost) like a consistent economic conservative. He even (be still my beating heart!) stood up directly for free trade. All in all, a significantly better performance on his part.
As for Obama, he was again fluid and skillful, and he didn’t make any major missteps or cringe-worthy statements. In other words, he probably did more than the minimum of what he needed to do.
On the whole, I think it was a better night for McCain, and might be worth a bit of political momentum to him. But will it really matter, or will the political impacts of the economic crisis simply be too much for McCain to overcome? The latter looks to be more likely at this point; McCain probably needs the help of some unexpected outside event/s (eg. a major surge in the stock markets) in the next three weeks to win. But the race isn’t over just yet.