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Longer format helps

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
The longer format appears to be working  for Obama, who tends to be long-winded. He hasn't been forced to give a quick answer yet.

He's on message, hitting his talking points on the contrasts with John McCain on taxes, his plans for healthcare and energy independence. He seemed to cover more ground than McCain whose main points were about cutting government spending.

For several minutes, Obama was the only one to interrupt his opponent, which seemed to be an attempt to show his willingness to fight back.

Other observations:

*Both mentioned Tom Coburn

*Took 34 minutes for Iraq to be mentioned (unless I missed it before). Obama pointed to ending the war as a cost savings

*The strongest exchanges were on Iraq. Obama seeking to point out areas where McCain was wrong and McCain accusing him of not admitting the United States was succeeding in Iraq and talked about him voting to cut off funding for troops