9:25 (Debate Over): McCain was on the attack all night, and Obama was on the defensive all night. By most accounts that means McCain won. It's never a good idea in politics to try and play prevent. I wouldn't be shocked to see McCain given a slight advantage by the pundit class tomorrow. But it won't be a big win. It won't be the kind of victory that erases Obama's advantages. Obama, again, looked calm, collected and in control. McCain was angry. He might want to ask his running mate for tips on how to stab a guy while wearing a pleasant smile. McCain walks out of Hostra University a happy camper, but Obama's probably sharing a few high fives with his staff.
9:23: Obama: I don't think America's youth are an interest group, I think they're our future. Why does John McCain hate America? Why does he want to destroy its future?
9:15: Obama takes a sip of water. Is his throat parched? Are McCain's hammer blows making him sweat? Will he collapse in a dehydrated heap?
9:12: McCain appealing to the pro life base: Obama's votes against late-term abortions.
9:10: Obama breaks out Ledbetter. "Hey, still-reluctant Clinton women: Look over here! Vote for me!"
9:08: McCain doesn't want a "litmus test," but he just said that a judge who supported Roe v. Wade wouldn't fit his criteria for a Supreme Court justice.
9:05: McCain just accidentally called Obama "Senator Government." As screw-ups go, you could do a lot worse.
9:03: I think the phrase "fundamental difference" has been used 87 times over these three debates, 60 times by Obama.
9:02: Obama's doing fine, but he's stumbling and pausing more today than he did in the previous two debates.
9:00: Joe The Plumber? Again? Joe's been a bigger part of this debate than William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and Sarah Palin combined.
8:59: A lengthy healthcare discussion doesn't help McCain. It's just not an issue where people trust Republicans.
8:55: Hey, Hugo Chavez gets a shout-out from McCain. Nice little pivot to foreign policy.
8:53: McCain: You didn't support the Columbian Free Trade Agreement. Obama: But I supported the Peruvian Free Trade Agreement! Uruguay is left out in the cold, I guess.
8:51: McCain: I admire so much Senator Obama's eloquence. Sarcasm has always been the central theme of McCain's campaign.
8:50: Obama's looking at the camera. McCain's looking at Schieffer. (And Obama, which is an improvement for him)
8:47: Well, McCain certainly wore his attacking shoes to tonight's debate. Don't know if anything is landing.
8:45: Oh, interesting move by Obama there. Using Palin's Down Syndrome child to talk about the need for increased funding for autism and other related issues, thus criticizing McCain's spending freeze proposal. A fair point, but awfully dangerous.
8:44: McCain talking eloquently about special needs children. Serious question: what kind of history does he have on that issue?
8:42: Obama answering without mentioning the name "Sarah Palin" even once.
8:41: If that was the extent of the Association Attacks from McCain, there are going to be a lot of pissed conservatives. I don't see how McCain made any headway there.
8:40: Oh, fun question from Schieffer. "Senator Obama, why would the country be better off if your running mate was vice president than if Senator McCain's running mate was vice president?"
8:37: You know, it might not be a good idea for Obama to refer to Bill Ayers as "Mr. Ayers." Just a thought.
8:36: And here is Ayers. And here is the ACORN stuff.
8:35: Obama keeps parrying McCain's campaign-related points with a sentence or two and then pivots to talking about the economy.
8:33: McCain: I'm proud of the people who come to our rallies. He's carrying on his campaign's tactic of alleging that shaking your head at the remarks made at McCain's rallies is the same as attacking every attendee at those rallies.
8:31: No Ayers yet.
8:28: Obama: Let's not talk about the campaign. Let's talk about issues.
8:26: McCain's not playing the Ayers card yet. He is playing the John Lewis card.
8:25: And Schieffer's asking the Ayers question without using his name.
8:21: McCain is really pushing this across-the-board spending freeze. I don't think anyone's fond of that idea. Most importantly, he's being very, very aggressive, both in terms of words and tone. He's worked himself into a bit of a lather. Obama is smiling.
8:19: And the three million dollar projector for the Adler Planetarium is back. It was such a winner in the second debate.
8:16: Schieffer: Which programs will you have to pare down or eliminate because of the financial crisis? Specifically. Obama: I'm going to talk about energy independence. McCain: I'm going to talk about energy independence.
8:11: I don't know how it'll come off, but this "Joe The Plumber" routine is an interesting way of trying to personalize the "victims" of Obama's tax plan. Obama's been trying to talk up the idea of taxing Warren Buffet.
8:09: McCain just spoke extensively about Joe, an Ohio plumber who will be crippled by Obama's tax policies. He's clearly hoping "Joe The Plumber" becomes the star of this debate.
8:08: McCain talks to Obama! Directly! It's a breakthrough!
8:07: The candidates just talked about their plans for the mortgage crisis. That's four minutes of my life I'll never get back.
8:03: Excuse the callousness, but is this the third straight debate where McCain has started the evening by expressing sympathy for some august personage sitting in a hospital?
8:02: Big question of the night: Is Bob Schieffer going to hector McCain and Obama to talk to each other?
8:00: Brian Williams' backdrop includes a massive amount of Roman columns. John Dickerson is now deriding NBC as elitist and condescending.
Yes, it's that time again. We're about eight minutes away from the final presidential debate of the election season. If you can't feel the tension, you're not even human.
NEXT ON CNN!
A little housekeeping, mainly directed at a certain anonymous commenter who had trouble figuring out the timestamps in the first live blog. My headquarters are in cosmopolitan DeSoto, KS. DeSoto is located in the Central Time Zone. Locations within the Central Time Zone are one hour behind locations in the Eastern Time Zone. So if the time stamps you see in this blog do not synch up with the time in your home, do not panic.