The question: “Well, senators, through this economic crisis, most of the people that I know have had a difficult time. And through this bailout package, I was wondering what it is that’s going to actually help those people out.” Slate‘s Trailhead blog looks at how the candidates answered and says Barack Obama may have missed a big moment.

John McCain responded first, giving an airy answer about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—institutions, he suggested, the questioner “may never even have heard of … before this crisis”—and taking a snipe at Obama for his contributions from those institutions. At this point, the moment felt eerily analogous to the most famous question from the 1992 town hall debate below, in which a young woman asked the three candidates how the national debt had personally affected them. (She probably meant the recession.) George H.W. Bush’s response (about 20 seconds into the video) was muddled and aloof, and Bill Clinton pounced on the opportunity to give a personal, compassionate-sounding response (2:30 in the video). The exchange was instant presidential-debate lore.”

Read the full story here.

Peter Fray

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