Chicago Sun-Times
Staff reports on all things politics - from City Hall to Springfield to Washington, D.C.

Recently in Debates Category

Verbal gaffes are something that hurt both sides of political contests. See: President Obama's "You didn't build that" comment or any number of things Vice President Joe Biden has said over the years. But lately it's been conservatives that have really stuck their foots in their mouths. And I'm not even including the latest buffoonery from Donald Trump. This week alone has shown three high profile examples:

  • Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock whose comment invoking religion in pregnancies from rape has netted him enough bad press that Todd Akin is probably sending him a thank you card.
  • Ann Coulter, the Nickleback of punditry (because millions read her but no one will admit to it), delivered another misstep when, after this week's debate, she called President Obama a "retard."
  • And, last but not least, former Alaska governor, VP candidate, and reality TV star Sarah Palin garnered scorn for using the racially insensitive phrase "shuck and jive" when referring to President Obama.

(No word on how Palin, whose son Trig has Down syndrome and has rallied against the use of the word "retard," feels about Coulter's comment.)

It was all a little much for our own Mary Mitchell, who weighed in with her most recent column and in the video above. Says Mitchell today:

African-Americans have heard so many white pundits use racially insensitive language to criticize the nation's first African-American President, and they have sucked it up.

After all, what first black anything didn't have to endure racist taunts.

But Palin used language that is not only linked to slavery and Jim Crow, but is associated with the kind of "clowning" educated black people frown upon.

Palin doesn't know anything about that.

Be sure to read all of Mitchell's column on the issue here.

On Tuesday night in a debate among contenders for the U.S. Senate in Indiana, a Republican candidate made a controversial comment on rape. Richard Mourdock said that he does not support abortion rights for women in the case of rape because those babies are something "God intended to happen."

The Democrats wasted no time responding, releasing the ad shown here which features Mitt Romney endorsing Mourdock - a spot that just hit the airwaves Monday.

The Romney campaign quickly worked to distance itself from the Mourdock statement.

"Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul in the statement.

It's hard to believe but someone just topped Todd Akin in the "ridiculous rape and abortion remarks" department. During a debate tonight, Richard Mourdock, Indiana's GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, dropped the latest in a line of controversial sound bites by Republican candidates during this election cycle about abortion. During the debate, after saying the only exception for abortion he'd allow is if the mother's life is in danger, Mourdock then explained why he doesn't support abortions in the case of rape: "I've struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from god. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin raised hackles earlier this year when he claimed women who were victims of "legitimate rape" don't get pregnant. Closer to home, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, locked in a tense battle with Tammy Duckworth for his Congressional seat, claimed abortions were never necessary to save a mother's life.

In Indiana, the latest polls show U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) as holding a slim lead over Mourdock who is currently Indiana's state treasurer. Mourdock's website proudly displays an endorsement from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Update: After the debate, Mourdock backed off his comment, saying, "Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think God ordained or pre-ordained rape? No, I don't think that anyone could suggest that. That's a sick, twisted - no, that's not even close to what I said."

Our sister publication in Merrillville, Ind., the Post-Tribune, has details on the debate.

With the third and final debate in the rearview mirror, here are some memorable moments from Boca Raton, Florida, the site of the final presidential showdown.

Click all photos to embiggen.

514810777.jpg
US President Barack Obama (R) greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following the third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, October 22, 2012. The showdown focusing on foreign policy is being held in the crucial toss-up state of Florida just 15 days before the election and promises to be among the most watched 90 minutes of the entire 2012 campaign.
AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Mitt Romney and President Obama tangled in their final debate, focusing on foreign policy, Monday night. Following in the full transcript of their exchange at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

You can also check the liveblog the Sun-Times ran to see what our columnists had to say as the night progressed.

The transcript:

SCHIEFFER: Good evening from the campus of Lynn University here in Boca Raton, Florida. This is the fourth and last debate of the 2012 campaign, brought to you by the Commission on Presidential
Debates. This one's on foreign policy. I'm Bob Schieffer of CBS News. The questions are mine, and I have not shared them with the candidates or their aides. The audience has taken a vow of silence - no applause, no reaction of any kind, except right now when we welcome President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.

Gentlemen, your campaigns have agreed to certain rules and they are simple. They've asked me to divide the evening into segments. I'll pose a question at the beginning of each segment. You will each have two minutes to respond and then we will have a general discussion until we move to the next segment.

Tonight's debate, as both of you know, comes on the 50th anniversary of the night that President Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, perhaps the closest we've ever come to nuclear war. And it is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad.

So let's begin.

It was another testy, feisty debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. And just like previous debates, there were several quotable moments for sound bites. But President Obama delivered perhaps the biggest line - and his most harsh - of all the debates when tackling Mitt Romney's assessment of the current state of the U.S. military. Whether it will help or hurt Obama remains to be seen, but it was the biggest punch the president landed.

Italy US Presidential_Newm.jpg
Two statuettes depicting President Barack Obama, left, and Republican rival Mitt Romney are backdropped by the Stars and Stripes in a shop which sells Christmas nativity figures in Naples, Italy, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, hours ahead of their third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)


After a whirlwind three weeks that's seen just about everything we thought we could see in an election, the two major party candidates for President of the United States - Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney - hold their final debate of the election season tonight. Going into the first debate less than three weeks ago in Denver, Obama was poised for a runaway win barring any major speed bumps. But that's what happend in Denver when Obama put forth a listless, lackluster performance by the president plus a new populist approach from Romney turned things around and put the wind at Romney's back, changing the entire course of the race. A testy, fiery Vice President Joe Biden turned up in the VP debate against GOP nominee Paul Ryan. And last week, Romney and Obama engaged in a heated, electrice debate, the candidates stalking the stage, often circling one another as they unleashed attacks on the other.

Tonight's moderator, CBS' Bob Schieffer, has experience with debates, having moderated one in each of the last two presidential election, and has already announced his list of topics for tonight's debate, centered on foreign policy:

  • America's role in the world
  • Our longest war - Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Red Lines - Israel and Iran
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - I
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - II
  • The Rise of China and Tomorrow's World

Tonight should be a lively debate and we've got our best columnists and pundits along to provide live commentary. Below you can find both live video via YouTube of the debate and, below that, the running commentary from the Sun-Times staff. Before we go live at 7:30 p.m. and throughout the debate, take some time to check out some of our other posts about the upcoming election and check out even more coverage at our Election Page.

Bears or Debate? What are you watching?
Roeper: Presidential circus continues
Ghosts of Elections Past: Ohio and Florida
Sifting through presidential endorsements
Googling the next president
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama at last week's Alfred E. Smith dinner
Obama campaign rolls out new "Romnesia" stump speech
FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver on The Daily Show

Watch the entire, fiery second debate with all the altercations, avoided questions and punch-counterpunches.

For everyone in Chicago, this might as well be the last debate. The Bears play a Monday Night Football game during the final, foreign policy themed debate Oct. 22.

st_liveblog_lead.jpg

It's been just shy of two weeks since President Obama gave a half-hearted showing in the first presidential debate against GOP challenger Mitt Romney. A listless president didn't challenge a fiery Romney in a debate that was further bogged down by a lackluster Jim Lehrer as moderator. The result? A huge swing for Romney who, in the days leading up to the debate, saw his deficit behind Obama swell. With the two candidates almost even, Obama got a small boost from Vice President Joe Biden who was seen by many pundits as besting GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan in last week's VP debate, but barely so. With Obama still holding a slight edge over Romney, at least according to FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, the incumbent is still looking to take the momentum back from Romney.

Tonight's debate should be an interesting one as it's a town-hall style forum and both campaigns have already gotten squirrelly over how tonight's moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley, will handle the questions and the candidates.

So to review: an incumbent aiming for an aggressive outing to change the rolling momentum of a fiesty challenger who's found his second wind answering questions from undecided voters with a wild card moderator. Should be a fun time so follow below as we live-blog the debate including insight from Sun-Times pundits and other bright minds. Also, sure to check out this pre-debate fact check.

ap_veepdebate_liveblog.jpeg

It's time for another debate in the 2012 Presidential race and tonight's event is the lone meeting of the VP candidates, standing Vice President Joe Biden and the GOP challenger Paul Ryan. Our live-blog will include running analysis from our writers (including Steve Huntley, Carol Marin, Neil Steinberg, and Roger Ebert), bloggers, and other insight as we follow tonight's face-off. Feel free to contribute comments below.