With little more than five weeks to Election Day, they may not have persuaded many voters to change their minds or helped undecided ones make a choice.
Despite the absence of a defining moment, the debate showcased the dueling candidates' temperaments and, particularly on foreign policy, highlighted their policy differences.
However, if voters were looking for a signal on how either would handle the economic meltdown as president, they were disappointed. Neither offered up a thoughtful prescription for addressing the worst economic meltdown in generations, or even much analysis on the proposed $700 billion government bailout.
"I wish they had. They were very cautiously evasive," said Michael Kevane, chairman of the economics department at Santa Clara University. "They were not very forward-looking. I wanted to hear how they thought the $700 billion should be divvied up."
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