McCain and Obama resume campaign fight after debate
Democrat Barack Obama hit the campaign trail and Republican John McCain returned to Washington for financial rescue talks on Saturday after clashing sharply on spending and foreign policy in their first presidential debate, Reuters reported.
Both camps claimed victory the day after a 90-minute debate that gave millions of undecided voters their first chance to directly compare the two candidates in a tight race for the White House.
"We think it's another piece in the puzzle to Senator Obama winning the election," campaign manager David Plouffe said of Obama's debate performance, citing several surveys that crowned him a slight winner and showed him making gains with undecided voters.
In their first face-to-face encounter of the campaign, McCain and Obama repeatedly questioned each other's judgement and battled over the economy and the Iraq war. McCain, 72, cast doubt on Obama's readiness for the presidency.
"There are some advantages to experience and knowledge and judgement," the four-term Arizona senator said. "I honestly don't believe that Senator Obama has the knowledge or experience."
Obama, 47, a first-term Illinois senator, tied McCain to the policies of unpopular President George W. Bush and said both men had been too focussed on Iraq while ignoring other problems.
"The next president has to have a broader strategic vision about all the challenges we face," Obama said.
Neither candidate scored any clear blows or committed major gaffes. McCain was on the attack frequently and put Obama on the defensive, but Obama responded forcefully.
The Obama campaign released a new advertisement called "zero" -- the number of times it said McCain made reference to the middle class during the debate. "McCain doesn't get it. Barack Obama does," the ad's narrator says.
McCain also released an ad criticizing Obama for a 2007 vote against funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The narrator says Obama was "playing politics, risking lives. Not ready to lead."
Obama planned campaign rallies in the swing states of Virginia and North Carolina later on Saturday, and McCain returned to Washington immediately after the debate and said he would return to talks on a $700 billion (380 billion pound) bailout plan for U.S. financial institutions.
McCain ended days of suspense only at midday on Friday when he agreed to attend the debate, backing away from his promise to skip the showdown if negotiations were not completed on the financial industry rescue.