10:34pm: That's all folks. An interesting debate. Palin played it folksy and certainly surpassed the extremely low bar that had been set for her. Biden avoided all the potential pitfalls. [I think. I did briefly catch something about a wink at some point in The Fix's twittering of the proceedings. I'll have to investigate that. Update: The wink was from Palin early on apparently. Now I'm going to have to go to the tape.] But I don't really think this one changed anything. There was no train wreck (Palin bumbling through answers or Biden saying something he shouldn't have.) and no one really provided a wow performance. Thoughts?
10:31pm: I'm starting to see Tina Fey doing those poses while Hillary Clinton/Amy Poehler spoke in that SNL sketch. She's looking off in to the audience and smiling. Meanwhile Biden is wrapping up trying to hit all the points here from the middle class to the troops abroad.
10:29pm: The media is out to get Palin. She's unfiltered here though, she adds.
10:27pm: Change the tone of Washington? Hey, a Jesse Helms reference from Biden. He learned not to question other senator's motives. Palin attempts to tie herself to Biden and McCain by talking about doing similar things in an attempt to isolate Obama.
10:24pm: Last question: Changing positions based on circumstances. Biden: judicial nominations and ideology. Palin: "Quasi-caving?" Ooh, I wouldn't have used that language. But I probably wouldn't be up there. But this is a broad answer that doesn't really say anything.
10:22pm: Honestly, I'm shocked we have not heard the L word this whole time. I really thought we'd hear "maverick" and "most liberal" mentioned an awful lot tonight. Well, one out of two ain't bad.
10:20pm: Discipline? Biden's weakest trait. He counters it may be his passion. That one falls flat and even elicits uneasy laughter from the audience. He rebounds well by going into his biography.
10:18pm: Palin on gubernatorial experience and her experience generally: Alaska is a huge state? Well, in terms of area perhaps. It ain't California, though.
10:16pm: Palin from tripping over Supreme Court questions with Couric to answering constitutional questions on her potential position as VP. Biden calls Cheney dangerous and gets into specifics of Article I. Different definitions on display here. Legislative role for VP? Biden says only to break ties.
10:11pm: "Say it ain't so, Joe" Palin on Biden looking back at Bush policy and attacking them.
10:03pm: Palin's very authentic in talking about her outsider status in response to Biden's discussion of Bosnia and Darfur. And she moves effortlessly into her talking points. But what we have on display is not age versus experience but outsider versus insider and there is some overlap between the two.
10:02pm: Bosniacs? I'm not familiar with that ethnic group, Joe. Oh, can I call you Joe?
10:00pm: Palin is forcefully talking to Biden on the tactics/strategy in Afghanistan. Biden stumbles getting out of the blocks in response.
9:56pm: We are about an hour in. This is a good debate. More entertaining than the one the other night, but I still don't see it as a game changer. Palin is doing well, but not enough to sway a significant portion of those 34% of voters who think that this debate is consequential to their vote decision.
9:54pm: Oh, good line of attack from Palin. [And I'm paraphrasing to borrow a phrase from Biden tonight.] "For a ticket focused on change, you sure are focused on looking to the past and attacking the Bush administration."
9:51pm: On to Israel. Palin supports a two state solution. Biden thinks the Bush administration has been way off on Israel. Wrong on everything from Hezbollah and Lebanon to Hamas in the West Bank.
9:48pm: I love that we now refer to the leadership in Cuba as the Castro brothers. It sounds like a band. A communist, America-hating band, but a band nonetheless.
9:47pm: Iran and Pakistan? Biden pivots to Afghanistan and the Democrats' definition of the central front on terrorism.
9:44pm: And now on to funding of the troops. Barack Obama hasn't according to Palin and Biden still doesn't think McCain understands what's going on.
9:42pm: "We will end this war!" Biden.
Palin, after an awkward pause: "Your plan is a white flag of surrender."
9:40pm: And on to foreign policy. How about the surge? Palin takes the McCain line. Biden: "With all due respect, I didn't hear a plan." Shifting response to the Iraqis.
9:38pm: Palin: the traditional definition of marriage. Biden: the traditional definition of marriage. Hey, agreement can happen.
9:36pm: Ah, (non-economic) domestic issues. Why not bring up a wedge issue first? How about gay marriage couched in terms of what is happening in Alaska with benefits for gay couples.
9:34pm: And Palin corrects Biden on the "Drill, baby, drill" chant. She's awfully good in a debate format. Interviews maybe not. But she's warmed up tonight.
9:33pm: Ooh, Biden brought up clean coal. Palin is writing notes on that one. Here she goes.
9:32pm: "If you don't understand the problem, you can't come up with a solution." Biden on the differences in the two tickets' approaches to the climate change issue.
9:27pm: "Toxic waste on Main St. is affecting Wall St. ." She flip-flopped that line. Not that she has lines.
9:25pm: If you aren't watching the full time split screens on C-SPAN, you are missing half the debate. The reactions are classic. And no, I don't work for C-SPAN, nor are they paying me.
9:21pm: Biden: "I call that the ultimate bridge to nowhere."
9:18pm: This is right where this debate is, both internally and externally: This tax discussion is about Reagan era, small government ideals versus a governmental role assisting citizens. Is the pendulum swinging back on this one? Public opinion on this government bailout sure is low.
9:14pm: Palin's good. Her debating style will play well in Peoria. The nerves are gone and she's warmed up.
...enough to get cut off by Gwen Ifill.
9:10pm: Palin apparently got the memo on the eye contact thing. She's trained on the cameras but she's already looked at Biden in rebuttal to his discussion of McCain's "fundamentals".
9:08pm: And there's the rebuttal to McCain voting 90% of the time with the Bush administrator line. "Obama has voted along party lines 96% of the time."
9:07pm: Biden is in attack mode.
9:06pm: Palin seems slightly nervous. Playing up John McCain and hasn't moved into the attack dog role. Ah, it's the first question.
9:04pm: Huh? The economy? I'm shocked this was the first lead question. Biden's off first and he's pointing out deregulation already.
9:03pm: "Can I call you Joe?" Nice, folksy icebreaker from Palin.
8:58pm: C-SPAN is showing podiums and unless Biden and Palin are sitting on them, I'd say this one will follow the presidential debate on Friday as a stand-behind-the-podium deal.
8:43pm: Here's a note on the format tonight (Yes, I think I've got it right this time.). From the Commission on Presidential Debates:
Vice presidential debate: all topics, moderated by Gwen IfillI couldn't glean from the press release whether this is a stand up or sit down debate. We'll know shortly.
Thursday, October 2, Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
-Ninety-second answers, followed by two-minute discussion for each question. Two-minute closing statements.
8:24pm: Incidentally, I'll be watching the debate tonight on C-SPAN. Hopefully they don't pull the ol' switcheroo on me like the did last week when the presidential debate was on C-SPAN2 -- a channel FHQ does not have access to -- and left me scrambling at the last minute to find any channel in time. Anyway, C-SPAN does have a nice resource in their Debate Hub, which will not only be streaming things live tonight, but has some nice features as well.
7:10pm: We are t-minus one hour and fifty minutes until go time at the vice presidential debate in St. Louis. I'm going on record now -- and I may hate myself in the morning because of it -- to say that this debate will be watched by a greater audience than the first presidential debate last Friday night. It is a classic Howard Stern scenario. People are tuning in for two completely polar opposite reasons. Either potential viewers like Sarah Palin and want to see her do well or they can't stand her and are awaiting the train wreck. Regardless, Joe Biden seems almost ancillary to tonight's debate (...unless he puts his foot in his mouth in a major way.).
And that brings us to the goals for each candidate tonight.
Biden simply needs to avoid the George Bush (circa 1984) trap and continue his convention attack on McCain.
For Palin, the bar has been lowered significantly by a few rocky interviews and the fact that the moderator, Gwen Ifill, has a forthcoming book about politics and race post-Obama.
For me, I'm trying to make it through one of these things without being booed again. But I digress...
Tonight should be fun and while you're waiting for the festivities to begin, why not interview Sarah Palin yourself? Thanks to the folks at the Princeton Election Consortium for the link.
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