Live blogging: McCain looks at Obama!

After a handshake, the two candidates go to their corners and then the debate begins -- on Barack Obama's turf.

Published October 8, 2008 1:15AM (EDT)

Well, if you were wondering whether John McCain might finally be willing to look at his opponent during a debate, your answer came very early tonight -- the two candidates shook hands when they came out, and McCain even looked Barack Obama in the eye, albeit briefly. (And then he even looked at Obama again during his answer to moderator Tom Brokaw's first question)

With that done, though, the debate started out from the very first question on ground that's favorable to Obama: the economy. And he took advantage.

In fact, both candidates look very comfortable with the town hall format; both are engaging, and largely seem warm and comfortable with the audience. McCain did take a crack at Brokaw for no apparent reason, however. That didn't go over well, and seemed odd, given the image he needs to project. (Bashing the media is all well and good, but not at the expense of appearing calm and collected.)

The second question was also on the economy -- specifically on the bailout. If the debate continues this way (and given the continued troubles in the market, that wouldn't be surprising), then Obama's at an advantage. It does give McCain the opportunity he needs to fight to convince voters that they should trust him, not Obama, to solve the crisis. But he's been unsuccessful at that so far, and there's no reason thus far to believe that will change tonight, so focus on the issue will help Obama.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz.