The Final Debate

By Samantha Hayes in Hempstead, New York

We’ve seen them standing behind podiums on a stage in Oxford, Mississippi. In Nashville, Tennessee, John McCain and Barack Obama worked the room in a town-hall style debate.  And tonight, in their third and final matchup here in Hempstead, New York, we will see the candidates seated across from one another. So the setup will be a little different.  But will we just hear more of the same?

In the first two debates, observers say the candidates didn’t offer much in the way of specifics on some issues, repeated a lot of lines from the campaign trail, and pointed fingers at each other for the economic crises.  While both campaigns spent months negotiating the rules of engagement, the candidates showed little regard for things like time constraints.

Apparently some interesting demands have been made for tonight. An official at Hofstra University, where the debate is being held, said both campaigns want to make sure their candidate stays cool. You could read that a couple different ways, but McCain’s people and Obama’s people are talking about the temperature, and have requested air-conditioning vents above them.  Tonight’s debate will be similar in format to the first one, allowing more time for the candidates to engage each other after answering each question. With all that talking, both candidates have requested a water glass.  The exact replica of water glasses used at the previous debates. Who knows, maybe they want to complete their debate glass collection.

Gearing up for tonight, Obama has done what he did before: prepare in a battleground state. This time around he’s been campaigning and prepping in Ohio. His spokeswoman, Linda Douglass, says he stays in touch with his team of economic advisers, but as debate time nears, it’s a little more difficult to get in touch with Obama. Advisers say he turns off his cell phone three hours prior so that he can better focus. McCain has been making final preparations in New York. Observers say the stakes are higher for McCain who is behind in national polls.  This is seen as his last opportunity to reach millions of people and make his case.

Samantha Hayes is a national correspondent for CNN Newsource based in Washington, D.C. She contributes political stories to KSAT-12. You can learn more about her here.

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