Political pundits, the media, and Americans expressed disappointment at the second presidential debate Tuesday night, which was described as lackluster and even boring.
Besides a few jabs, pointing fingers, and name calling, the town-hall format debate failed to elicit any emotional responses from the presidential candidates. Instead, the political rivals seemed to be playing it safe, using the debate as a soapbox to rehash their economic, energy, tax, and the war on terror policies.
Sen. Barack Obama, like his running mate Sen. Joe Biden last week in the vice presidential debate, accused the Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of proposing a tax policy that would give billions of dollars in tax cuts to big corporations, including rich oil companies, as well as their CEO's.
He contrasted McCain's policy with his, which he says would cut tax for Americans making less than $250,000 a year, or 95 percent of the population.
However McCain rebutted that since Obama came to Washington he has never proposed a tax cut.
On McCain's part, he focused much of the night emphasizing his support for U.S. energy independence through investing in nuclear energy, allowing off-shore drilling, and funding research on alternative energy sources.
The candidates also traded barbs on foreign policy regarding Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
But completely absent from the 90-minute debate was any hot-button cultural war issues such as abortion, homosexuality, the separation of church and state, or gun control.
"Where were the questions about gay marriage? Where were the questions about embryonic stem cell research," asked Day Gardner, president of The National Black Pro-Life Union, in a statement Wednesday.
"I wanted the candidates to state once and for all where they stand on abortion. Not just 'for' or 'against' answers," she said.
Gardner also highlighted that there was no mention, during discussions on spending reductions, about cutting the hundreds of millions given to Planned Parenthood – the nation's largest abortion provider.
Conservative strategist Richard Viguerie, in his comments following the debate, said that McCain needed to "nationalize" the election in order to win the debate.
"[He needed to] make it a stark choice between liberals and conservatives, between two competing visions of choice between liberals and conservatives, between two competing visions of government," Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, said.
"John McCain did not do what he needed to do," he charged.
Most analysts agree that Obama and McCain essentially tied in the debate, which translates to an Obama win because of his upper hand in national polls.
Obama currently has an 11 percentage point lead over McCain, 52 to 41 percent, according to the latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking report.
The two candidates will again face off in their final debate next Wednesday in New York.