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Candidates Part Ways After Debate


From NPR News, it's All Things Considered. I'm Andrea Seabrook. The day after the first presidential debate, Barack Obama has hit the campaign trail, and John McCain is back in Washington. Obama is stumping through North Carolina and Virginia today, hitting hard on the themes he raised at last night's debate. NPR's Don Gonyea is with him. NPR's Scott Horsley is with McCain, who came back to the Capitol to work on the Wall Street bailout plan in Congress. Hi, guys.

DON GONYEA: Hi, there.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Andrea.

SEABROOK: First to you, Don. Is there a moment or a theme that the Obama campaign is particularly happy about today?

GONYEA: Well, here's what they like the best. They feel that, if there were independent undecided voters watching, people who might have had concerns about Senator Obama, how he would look as president, how well he has a grasp of the issues, they feel those questions were answered. But they also feel they got the best of John McCain. This is from the speech Senator Obama gave at a rally today in Greensboro, North Carolina. Give a listen.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois, 2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee): You talked about the economy for 40 minutes and not once did Senator McCain talk about the struggles of middle-class families. Not once did he talk about what they're facing every day right here in North Carolina and around the country.

GONYEA: And the point that Senator Obama made is that Senator McCain talked about Senator Obama for 90 minutes, but he never mentioned the middle class. As Senator Obama put it, he talked about me the whole night, but he never talked about you.

SEABROOK: Over to you, Scott Horsley, the McCain campaign. What are they doing today?

SCOTT HORSLEY: Well, the McCain campaign also seems genuinely happy about the way the debate went last night. There were a lot of smiles in the staff section of the campaign plane as that senator flew back to Washington. One thing they liked is that Senator McCain seemed to be on offense during the debate, challenging Barack Obama's preparedness, especially on foreign affairs. That was an argument that Senator McCain made repeatedly throughout the debate, and one that he summed up in the final few minutes.

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona, 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee): I don't think I need any on the job training. I'm ready to go at it right now.

HORSLEY: Also, after a certainly chaotic campaign week, I think supporters were pleased just to see that John McCain didn't look distracted during the debate. He didn't look exhausted. He looked prepared, rested, and relatively relaxed.

SEABROOK: Senator McCain is in Washington. He flew back late last night. What is he doing here today?

HORSLEY: Well, that's right, and the senator originally planned to campaign today in Ohio, and he will still deliver a speech tonight to a Sportsmen Convention in Columbus, Ohio, but he's going to do so via satellite from Washington. He came back here really early this morning with the stated goal of being here for the ongoing talks in the financial rescue.

His role in those talks, so far, I have to say, has been entirely behind the scenes. He was holed up all morning in his Crystal City condominium. Then early this afternoon, he motorcaded around the block to his campaign headquarters. And we're told that he's been working the phones in both those places trying to win over more reluctant Republican votes for a bailout package.

SEABROOK: And Don, you're over with the Obama camp. What's going on, and what's on tap for today?

GONYEA: Well, you can hear the press corps and some of the baggage handlers for the Obama and Biden campaign planes, actually, staging a mock debate about 20 feet from me, if you hear some laughter.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GONYEA: It's one of those things that happens on the sidelines of a campaign. But we're in Greensboro, North Carolina, where the senator just finished up an event. He was joined by his running mate, Joe Biden, their first time back together in a while. Later on, it's off to another event, another rally in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

SEABROOK: NPR's Don Gonyea and NPR's Scott Horsley. Guys, thanks both very much.

GONYEA: All right. Thank you.

HORSLEY: My pleasure, Andrea. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

United States & World Morning EditionAll Things Considered
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
Andrea Seabrook covers Capitol Hill as NPR's Congressional Correspondent.