I can't help feeling, after seeing McCain and Obama trading good-natured barbs at each other and themselves at the Alfred E. Smith Dinner Thursday night, that these guys could actually get along as friends. Yet I am then drawn back into the reality of the testy exchanges of the third debate the night before. Then I am drawn to their warm embraces before and after the debates with their families around them. Then I remember politics makes strange bedfellows and I am aware they were "acting" in both settings - everything is political and scripted. Still, these two guys can come across as likeable, each in his own way.
Can guys who are competing against each other be friends outside of the competition? If there is another context for the friendship or for interaction (like the Senate), yes. If there is no other interaction other than the competition, then it is easier to dislike someone - they become the "other." They will be faceless and only have the personality of the competition. Nothing else likeable will be known about them.