Th spin is on today as each presidential campaign is touting the good points of its V.P. candidate’s performance last night. In their first and only debate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Delaware Senator Joe Biden came out swinging in St. Louis.
As in the first presidential debate, there was no knockout, but each candidate landed some pretty good shots. And more importantly, no big blunders by either candidate, especially the less experienced Palin who has stumbled in recent interviews. Some are saying Biden won the debate, but Palin is also getting credit for not blowing it.
It is well known that Governor Palin had been heavily coached for the debate. She came out on stage feisty and bubbling over with energy. Also, Palin apparently had a list of scripted points and comments. First up, she asked the Delaware senator, “…can I call you, Joe?” That was kind of folksy and pleasant. Since most everyone calls the senator Joe it was no big deal, but there would be pay-off later.
Palin and Biden didn’t really debate each other, but mostly defended their running mates’ records and policies and tried to show a connection with the middle class. Also they covered a lot of territory, from the economy to the Iraq war, to foreign policy to energy, taxes, and the rights of same sex couples. We have heard most of these arguments from the presidential candidates, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain.
Interestingly, early on Palin indicated she probably would not play by the rules, “..I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record …” True to her word, she frequently did not answer the questions asked, but voiced comments that sounded, well, coached.
Biden repeatedly linked McCain to the failures of the Bush administration, “… past is prologue… the issue is, how different is John McCain’s policy going to be than George Bush’s? ”
Palin resisted making the comparison, but had to admit, “There have been huge blunders in the war. There have been huge blunders throughout this administration, as there are with every administration.”
When Biden continued to point out similarities in McCain’s record and President Bush’s policies, at one point, Palin came back with, “Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again.” That was the pay-off to the opening “..can I call you Joe?” request.
Also, this reminded me of then California Governor Ronald Reagan’s famous put-down of President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 debate. Reagan would begin his answers with,”there you go again.” It worked and Reagan won the election.
Both Biden and Palin are getting kudos for their performance today. How much their debate score cards will help their running mates is still being studied and analyzed. The answer may not be known until the ballots are counted after the polls close on Election Day.