Debateja Vu

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The first thing that's striking about the exchanges here is how mechanically both candidates are repeating the script from the first debate, in almost exactly the same language ("I know how these people think, I meet with them all the time"). Message discipline is one thing, but especially when the questioners are ordinary citizens, not journalists, regurgitating those same precise canned phrases conveys the (accurate) impression that you're reading a script prepared for "Questions of type X" rather than responding to the specific questioner. Not that I expect them not to have scripted answers, but they shouldn't sound like they do. This is particularly a mistake for Bush, I think, whose particular advantage in this format was thought to be his superior ability to connect personally with audiences. He's not milking that yet.

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