The presidential and vice-presidential debates have attracted large audiences to the University of Sydney's Manning Bar, even with hot weather and many away on study vacation. The debates were shown on a giant screen and analysis was provided by the US Election Watch 08 pundits' panel.

There was much interest in the only vice presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin on 3 October. The campus audience joined an estimated viewing audience of 70 million in the United States as the hockey mum and Washington insider debated.

Nick Bryant, the BBC Correspondent in Sydney, joined the US Election Watch 08 pundits' panel for the vice presidential debate screening. Nick was joined by Harry Melkonian, a lecturer in the US Studies postgraduate program, and Lesley Russell, a fellow in the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and a contributor to the US Election Watch 08 "Face Off" blog. The panel addressed questions on everything from the Palin phenomenon and the role of the vice presidency in the US to the latest trends in the polls and the overall effect of Biden and Palin on the outcome.

Nick Bryant's article, Web of Receipts, is featured in the September/October edition of The Diplomat. The same edition also features USSC Chief Executive Geoff Garrett's article on the Great Expectations placed on Obama and McCain.

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama squared off in the second presidential debate on 8 October. In a town hall style debate, moderator Tom Brokaw allowed members of the audience to pose questions to the candidates.

The third and final presidential debate at Hofstra University on 16 October saw the pair battle fiercely in what was by far the liveliest and most contentious of all the debates. Obama responded to accusations from McCain that there were shady characters lurking in his past. Moderator Bob Schieffer steered the candidates through a number of issues including the country's dependency on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela.