The debate itself was actually pretty good, centered on issues like foreign policy and the economy, with no BS about lipstick or flag pins. I've been in the tank for Obama since he announced his candidacy last year, so it's hard for me to objectively judge who "won", but I thought it was about a tie. Both Obama and McCain were able to say what they needed to say, but wasn't able to catch the other guy off guard.
For Presidential candidates, the debates are like interviews for jobseekers. You've already passed the first round (getting your party's nomination), and the debate is a chance to make your case with the people. And both these guys have been making their case with the people for the last 18 months, so they're pretty good at it.
The closest thing to a gaffe was Obama hitting McCain about his statement last week that he "wouldn't necessarily meet" with the Prime Minister of Spain. That's Spain, our NATO ally with beautiful beaches, beautiful women, rioja wines, and La Liga football. One of the countries I'm seriously considering moving to if John McCain wins this election.
The exchange went like this (video)
McCain: (under his breath) horsesh-- (or something similar)
I heard that with my own ears, even when I played it back. And Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan heard the same thing (update: or maybe not?). I wondered if McCain was saying "horseshit" to the fact that he said he wouldn't meet with PM Zapatero (he did), or to Obama's statement that Spain is a NATO ally (they are), but my take home point from last night's debate is that John McCain is an angry man who, when confronted about something he said just last week, mutters a curse word into a live mic in front of 100 million people.