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VP Debate: Biden-Palin Video, Highlights

The Huffington Post
First Posted: 09-29-08 09:56 AM   |   Updated: 10-30-08 05:12 AM

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More coverage of the debate in HuffPost's politics section.

10:35 - Sam Stein: An Obama aide summarizes the night's proceeding as such: Palin did a good job, as expected, but Biden was the star of the evening, hitting the right tones, coming off passionate and informed and not seeming demeaning in the slightest to his combatant.

Moreover, he adds, when you look back at the tape there was little to any substance in Palin's answers.

"She could not articulate one place where her ticket differs from Bush," he writes.

And on CNN, David Gergen echoes what the aide said: Palin did what she needed to do, but "Joe Biden gave the best debate performance of his life.'

10:32 - Jason Linkins: FLURRY OF FINAL THOUGHTS:

--Energy independence remains McCain/Palin's best issue. Maybe their only issue. Though the repetition of platitudes seems to work as well
--Palin's going to put a lot of her troubles behind her. Tina Fey's going to have to work at spoofing this debate! (I think Fey will find a way.)
--Biden's going to disappoint the GOP Oppo machine, though, too: no gaffes! Gaffe free! Sign of the apocalypse.
--Surprising good issues for Obama/Biden on foreign policy. Pakistan issue scored well. But everytime they brought up the cost of Iraq in terms of dollars, especially referencing Iraq's surplus, their scores hit the top. Obama and Biden should hit that frame hard!
--I'm predicting that Palin's performance will provide McCain's numbers with some ballast, but not to Obama's detriment.
--Women, however, are going to flock to Obama in droves, however. Droves.

Here's complete video of the debate if you missed it:

10:28 - Nico Pitney: The Swamp claims Joe Biden just invented a term, Bosniak. As Max Bergmann points out, that is totally false.

10:27 - Sam Stein: Palin takes a dig at the media and, more specicially, CBS, for "filtering" her interviews.

I'd like to do more of these open forums, she says, "Without the filter of the main stream media telling viewers what they have just heard."

It is tough to make this claim when it was a voter in Philadelphia that tripped her up on Pakistani policy just a week ago. More importantly, what, exactly, has the media taken out of context? They are playing large portions of each of her answers.

10:25 - Jason Linkins: Interesting Dial Line standard: Focus group approves of Biden defending Obama, but they aren't impressed with Palin talking up McCain. People want to hear Palin be Palin! Not interested in her running a P.R. game for McCain.

10:23 - Sam Stein: Biden gets choked up when talking about the struggles of American families and the trials he himself went through when his wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident.

"The notion that somehow because I am a man I don't know how to raise two kids on my own," he says, "I know what its like to raise a child where you are not sure he's going to make it."

At one point he had to hold back tears, take a breath and compose himself.

On the CNN dials of undecided voters in Ohio, both men and women rate the moment as high as possible.

10:20 - Sam Stein: Not sure if Palin wants to come to Dick Cheney's defense on anything, let alone the carte blanche political powers he has pursued while in office. Asked if she agreed with his interpretation that the VP is part of the legislative branch, she basically says yes.

"I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there and we will do what we have to do to administer appropriately the plans we have for this nation."

Biden tees off, starting with the blanket statement: "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous VP we have had in history."

Uncommitted voters in Ohio absolutely love Biden's response.

10:17 - Jason Linkins: Palin seems to think that the Constitution allows the Vice President to "flex" between the Executive and the Legislative Branch! GAFFE.

10:15 - Nico Pitney: Bush or Palin -- they have sounded pretty similar during this debate. A Democrat passes along this video making the point:

10:14 - Jason Linkins: Palin follows the needle-scratch-on-the-record riposte "Say it ain't so, Joe, there ya go again" (TWO CLICHES for the price of ONE!) with a promise that Biden's wife will be rewarded in Heaven for being a teacher. This made me ALL KINDS OF UNCOMFORTABLE.

10:14 - Sam Stein: Question for the masses: Can there be a reasonable claim that Gwen Ifill has been biased? I'm not holding my breath waiting for all those conservatives who aired complaints over her forthcoming book to be issuing mea culpas.

10:10 - Sam Stein: Palin, asked about what she would do if, god forbid, John McCain were not able to live out his first term, responds that she would continue his mission and mavericky record.

"I think we need a little bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street brought there into D.C."

Nothing against Wasilla, but could we think of another town's Main Street?

10:08 - Sam Stein: Palin has gone to some great lengths to talk about things non pertinent to the question. And so, on a question regarding military intervention, she starts out by saying:

"Oh man, it is so obvious I am a Washington outsider and not used to the way you guys operate. You voted for the war, and now are against the war. Someone who said I was for it before I was against it."

"Americans are just craving that straight talk."

Biden responds by going right at McCain's record on Iraq.

"I never supported John McCain's strategy when it came to the war. John McCain said the same thing Dick Cheney said," he replies, pointing out that McCain touted the easiness of the war, the fact that it would pay for itself, and so on...

10:07 - Jason Linkins: I want to personally thank Sarah Palin, for at last pronouncing "pundit" correctly, instead of her preferred "pundint."

10:06 - Nico Pitney: Presumptive? The conservative group Our Country Deserves Better sends out an email at 9:56 (about two-thirds of the way through) with the subject line: "WOW! Sarah Palin Wins Debate in a Big Way"

10:05 - Nico Pitney: Unlike Obama, Joe Biden is hammering the links between McCain and President Bush. Here's one key moment:

"Past is prologue, Gwen. The issue is how different is John McCain's policy going to be than George Bush's? I haven't heard anything yet. I haven't heard how his policy is going to be different on Iran than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy will be different with Israel than George Bush's, I haven't heard how his policy on Afghanistan will be different than George Bush's, I haven't heard how his policy in Pakistan will be different than George Bush's. It may be, but so far, it is the same as George Bush's, and you know where that policy has taken us. We will make significant change, so once again, we're the most respected nation in the world. That's what we're going to do."

10:04 - Jason Linkins: The commanding general in Afghanistan didn't merely state that Surge tactics won't work! He also said that tribal involvement in the COIN strategy wouldn't work either! Absolutely right on infratstructure in Afghanistan though! Know what they really need in Afghanistan to enhance security? ROADS.

Palin thinks our commander in Afghanistan is someone named "McClellan." It is, I believe, McKiernan. And Palin is DEAD WRONG. He absolutely said that tribal involvement in Afghanistan COIN strategy would not work.

McKiernan: "I do think there's a role for traditional tribal authorities and tribal structure in Afghanistan, in the rural areas especially, to play in a community-based sense of security, of connection with the government, and of environmental considerations. But I think that has to be led, that tribal engagement, it has to be led by the Afghan government. I specifically tell my chain of command in ISAF [International Security Assistance Force, the name for NATO's mission in Afghanistan] that I don't want the military to be engaging the tribes to do that. It has to be through the Afghan government to do that. But of course, there's danger in that. There's always, "Is this particular tribe, is it being reached out to for all the right reasons?" That has to be watched very closely."


McKiernan: "First of all, please don't think that I'm saying there's no room for tribal engagement in Afghanistan, because I think it's very necessary. But I think it's much more complex environment of tribal linkages, and intertribal complexity than there is in Iraq. It's not as simple as taking the Sunni Awakening and doing the Pashtun Awakening in Afghanistan. It's much more complex than that."

10:00 - Sam Stein: The gender gap among uncommitted Ohio respondents continues, according to the CNN voter response tracker. And an Obama adviser gleefully points out that female voters simply aren't responding to Palin.

9:57 - Jason Linkins: PALIN: Nuclear war would be "the be-all end-all of too many people and too many parts of our planet." Uhm...try the end-all end-all of every-effing-body! What, is she gonna hide under her desk?

9:56 - Seth Colter Walls: Biden: The only thing on the march is Iran. Takes on the Bush administration push for elections in the Middle East giving rise to legitimacy for Hamas and Hezbollah.

As Jeffrey Goldberg noted in The Atlantic, Palin seemed to not understand how Hamas rose to power in her recent interview with Katie Couric.

9:56 - Jason Linkins: Palin's post-Israel pontification on "finger-pointing": TOTAL CANNED ANSWER. Palin makes it sound better than Steve Schmidt would though!

9:54 - Sam Stein: A familiar debate emerges over what is effective diplomacy. Palin claims Obama wants to meet with the world's worst dictators without preconditions. Reminded that Henry Kissinger argued that same position, she posits:

"Dr. Henry Kissinger, especially, and I had a good conversation with him... and he shared with me his passion for diplomacy." How could we sit down, she asks, with those who "hate American and hate with we stand for with our freedoms... those who want to destroy what we stand for cannot be met with discussions on a presidential level."

Biden, like Obama before him, was ready for the response. McCain and Plain talk about a passion for diplomacy, and we have to bring our friends and allies along," he says. "Our friends and allies [are the ones who] have been saying sit down, and talk, talk, talk..."

That was the shot. Here was the chaser: "John McCain said a couple weeks ago he wouldn't even sit down with the government of Spain, a NATO ally... I find that incredible."

9:55 - Jason Linkins: It must be said, compared to those Palin/Couric interviews, Palin is straight killing it. I mean, it'd be hard not to improve on those performances! But her spinners are going to rally behind her, and tout this performance, and as long as they show the tape without this dial line, the tape will tell the take. TWO THINGS THOUGH: 1. Biden isn't exactly floundering either! 2. Will Palin follow up this debate performance with a visit to the Sunday Morning shows? Or retreat into the cocoon? The press tonight is going to get a lot of positivity from the Palin partisans tonight - they ought to follow that up with requests/demands for a Palin appearance on Sunday!

9:49 - Jason Linkins: Sorry to be so obsessed with the dial line! But Biden's answer to Iran/Pakistan got high marks. Women especially, shot to the top and stayed there. Palin is having trouble getting up there. Her marks flatline when she suggests that Obama is naive.

9:48 - Nico Pitney: For the third time, Sarah Palin gives a Bush-esque pronunciation of "nucular."

9:47 - Sam Stein: Palin, ready to throw some daggers Biden's way, brings up nice things he has said about McCain in the past, as well as old quotes from the primary in which he called out Barack Obama's capacity to be president and his stance on Iraq.

"You also said that Barack Obama is not ready to be Commander in Chief," Palin says, "and I also know you opposed his decision to cut off funding for the troops. I don't know how you could support that, especially with your son in the National Guard."

9:44 - Seth Colter Walls: Palin identifies (and trips over) "Shiite extremists" that still remain in Iraq as the reason why McCain's position needs to continue unabated. But does she know that mainstream Shiite leaders' rule over our Sunni Awakening allies is something that could fuel a renewal of violence?

Biden retorts: "With all due respect, you didn't hear a plan there." And Palin responds with a canned line: "Your plan is a white flag of surrender and it is not what our troops need to hear today."

9:44 - Jed Lewison: Sarah Palin has an eye-lash problem:

9:43 - Jason Linkins: Sarah Palin is touting the Surge, and America is apparently not that interested. Dial Line stays flat, flat, flat. Biden touts Obama's plan, the dial line shoots up. Especially at the idea of Iraqis taking responsibility. Women especially like the idea of the Iraqis spending their own money. Timetables get tepid support. Palin's "white flag of surrender" sends the line plummeting.

9:38 - Seth Colter Walls: Small Biden gaffe: Answering a question about whether he supports giving various rights to same-sex couples, the Senator needlessly inserts the word "marriage" into his answer, prompting a round of follow-up questions. Palin has the opportunity to claim that hospital visitation rights for gay couples can sometimes lead to a redefinition of marriage. And Ifill has to go back to Biden to make sure he wasn't staking out a new position for the ticket in support of gay marriage equality (something Obama has explicitly come out against). Biden clarifies that no, he didn't mean to suggest anything new.

9:36 - Sam Stein: Biden calls for investing in clean coal technology... One would be remiss not to note that on a rope line recently Biden said America should build any clean coal plants. But McCain dismissed that type of moment as "gotcha journalism," right? She calls him on it anyway (even mentioning that it was in a rope line).

Biden replies: "A comment made in a rope line was taken out of context, I was talking about exporting clean coal technology to China."

9:35 - Jason Linkins: Palin's best score from the CNN focus group so far is about energy independence. Her first badly scrambled answer comes directly afterwards, on climate change. And women hate the phrase, "Drill, Baby, Drill."

9:32 - Nico Pitney: A strange moment in the debate, where Sarah Palin refuses to answer if her ticket would have to pull back on some campaign promises in light of the financial crisis.

Ifill: "As Vice President, there's nothing you've promised as a candidate that you would take off the table because of this financial issue?"


Palin: "There is not, and how long have I been at this? Like five weeks?"

9:30 - Sam Stein: In a sharp exchange on energy policy, Palin accuses Obama of voting in favor of a bill that increased subsidies for oil companies. It was the 2005 energy bill, which McCain voted against.

The problem, as Biden points out, is that if McCain is serious in going after Big Oil he would be proposing billions of dollars in tax breaks for those very companies. Moreover, McCain is against a windfall profit tax on oil companies, an issue that splits the Republican ticket.

"I hope the governor is able to convince John McCain to support a wind fall profits tax which she herself supported" in Alaska, says Biden. Ifill then cuts of the discussion, giving the Senator a point scored.

9:29 - Nico Pitney: Does Sarah Palin have a cheat sheet? She keeps looking down at her desk.

9:25 - Nico PItney: "Perhaps in an attempt to make up for the fact that John McCain neglected to wear a flag pin to last Friday's presidential debate," ThinkProgress notes, "Sarah Palin is wearing a flag pin about the size of a child's fist."

Palin

9:22 - Jason Linkins: CNN Dial line: UNCOMMITTED WOMEN LOVE JOE BIDEN talking energy independence (and withholding foreign aid.) The dials dive once Palin begins speaking."

9:21 - Nico PItney: Joe Biden gets the first laugh of the night, calling the McCain-Palin health care plan "the ultimate bridge to nowhere."

9:20 - Seth Colter Walls: Obama campaign now pushing out oppo research that says McCain was not quite the Fannie/Freddie critic Palin is painting him to be. Specifically, an Obama flak cites a New York Times article that says McCain "overstates the role" he played in reforming the housing giants.

9:19 - Sam Stein: Joe Biden, defending the completely misleading charge made by John McCain's campaign that Barack Obama voted to raise taxes on people making $42,000 a year, makes a misleading statement of his own.

He claims that McCain himself voted "the exact same way" on that budget resolution. McCain, as his campaign points out, did not.

"That's a lie," writes spokesman Brian Rogers. "McCain didn't vote on either bill."

9:16 - Seth Colter Walls: The Obama campaign anticipated Palin's line about raising taxes on people making $42,000 a year, sending out a pre-buttal that cited two articles debunking the claim.

Jason Linkins: The thing about these claims, "So and so supported 1,575 tax increases," is that it's always a gross oversimplification of procedural votes. It includes many occasions when virtually everyone is in agreement in the Senate. It usually includes any decision to continue a government program. Biden is right to dispute this the way he did.

9:15 - Seth Colter Walls: Palin says she may not "answer the questions the way you or the moderator want," and proceeds to answer an entirely different question. But by linking Ifill and Biden, is she subtly suggesting that the moderator is in the tank?

9:12 - Jason Linkins: Based on Biden's performance thus far, there won't be any of this, "I agree with John McCain/John McCain was right."

Sam Stein: Palin, who looks much sharper in this format than at any time on television, keeps hitting home on the average-American theme. She turns, from there, to a line that was used - and sort of mocked - during a campaign stop.

"I do respect your years in the Senate by I do think Americans are craving something new and something different."

The idea that McCain is something new and different compared with Obama is such an up-hill climb for this ticket. But they seem invested in going there.

9:06 - Sam Stein: Biden starts off by discussing the bailout of Wall Street and the current economic crisis in terms of how it matters to the middle class. This is the frame that the Obama campaign has been pushing ever since the presidential debate in which, they noted, McCain never uttered the word "middle class."

Palin, by contrast, plays to the all-American image, saying that the discussion needs to be based on what it means for the family at a soccer game. The McCain camp is hoping, as their aides pushed all day Thursday, to have Palin appeal to average Americans, the Joe-six packs if you will.

Jason Linkins: Right off the bat, Palin makes her move: I will OUT-MIDDLE CLASS YOU, JOE BIDEN (Can I call you, Joe? Yes? Great!) Parents at their kids soccer games, expressing fear over the economy. My parents weren't nearly so distractable at my soccer games, but then, my play was probably poor enough that they feared for my life.

Biden hewing to the Bill Clinton manual on "How To Attack John McCain." He's a great guy, but he doesn't get it. Palin, though, is completing sentences, with subject-verb agreement and anything. Four buzzwords, though: TEAM OF MAVERICKS, NEW ENERGY, JOE SIX-PAC, HOCKEY MOMS. Start marking off your bingo cards.

9:03 - Nico Pitney: After being introduced, Sarah Palin walks up to Senator Biden and, during their handshake, asks, "Can I call you Joe?" He says yes. Folksy moment? Totally contrived?

9:00 - Sam Stein: With the debate about to start, a Democrat sends over a clip of Howard Fineman discussing Sarah Palin not on her policy positions or poor performance in news interviews but as a reflection of John McCain's judgment.

This is, he says, the type of frame that the Obama camp should be pushing.

+++

Granholm On Playing Palin: The Michigan governor tells Newsweek about helping with Joe Biden's debate prep. "I do think, generally, it is more difficult for a man to debate a woman. I think that citizens have certain expectations still ingrained in them about how men and women should behave and comport themselves. And for both sides, there are pitfalls."

Palin To Go On Offense Against Biden: "Sarah Palin plans to go on the attack in tonight's debate," Politico reports, "hitting Joe Biden for what she will call his foreign policy blunders and penchant for adopting liberal positions on taxes and other issues, according to campaign officials involved in prepping her for tonight's showdown."

The Palin camp is projecting surprising self-confidence in the pre-debate hours, despite the vice presidential nominee's uneven -- and, at some points, peculiar -- performances in recent television interviews, the officials say. Top advisers to John McCain privately say Palin's recent CBS interview was a borderline disaster, especially since it played out in several segments over several days. Tonight will be different, they say.


"This is going to finally put her back into a position where we see her like we saw her the first couple weeks," a McCain official said. "She was herself. She was authentic, and people related to that. ... Tonight, she'll get into a rhythm. You're going to see her in a way that you haven't seen her yet."

Here's video of Palin arriving in St. Louis for the event, and a press pool report from the airport.

Obama Camp: Palin Is "One Of The Best": "Governor Palin is one of the best debaters in American politics," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told the press corps traveling to St. Louis for tonight's event. "I've watched all of her debates; she is an extremely good debater," Plouffe said. "We expect she'll have very, witty biting lines that she'll get off tonight. All of you that are like figure skating judges will give her some credit for that. But we think the American people who are watching at home tonight who are economically challenged who are fundamentally unhappy with the direction of this country, Joe Biden will do a very good job speaking to them."

Here's video of some of Palin's best debate moments:

President Palin?: The Washington Independent runs the numbers and finds 30 percent of VPs go on to become commander-in-chief.

Palin's Spin Team: Hotline reports on the people expected to tout Palin's performance tonight: Former MA Gov. Jane Swift, HI Gov. Linda Lingle, Fred Thompson, NM Rep. Heather Wilson, SC Sen. Lindsey Graham, CT Sen. Joe Lieberman, MO Rep. Roy Blunt, MO Sen. Kit Bond, Rudy Giuliani.

McCain Criticizes Ifill: From an appearance on Fox News: "Frankly, I wish they had picked a moderator that isn't writing a book favorable to Barack Obama," McCain said of Ifill, who is examining the rise of the Illinois Democrat and other post-civil rights black leaders. "Let's face it. But I have to have to have confidence that Gwen Ifill will handle this as the professional journalist that she is. Life isn't fair, as I mentioned earlier in the program."

"Live From St. Louis, It's Thursday Night!" Sen. Hillary Clinton's former strategist/spokesman Howard Wolfson wonders what it will take for Sarah Palin to get Americans to look past Tina Fey's SNL interpretation of her:

The short answers: Gov. Palin needs to demonstrate a real understanding of complex issues. Simple talking points won't cut it. She needs to make clear she grasps the difficult policy challenges that the next administration will confront. if she doesn't the debate will quickly turn into her own version of Thursday Night Live.


Sen. Biden's burden is the opposite. We all know he understands the issues. Instead he has to connect with Americans, making the case against John McCain without condescending to Gov. Palin and angering female voters. (He will not, for instance, be calling her "Sarah")

The Other VP Debate: ABC remembers the lead-up to the last male v. female vice presidential debate, featuring George H. W. Bush and Geraldine Ferraro:

The New York Observer compiled "greatest hits" from several earlier VP debates.

Intense Anticipation: The San Francisco Chronicle says tonight's debate is "must-see TV - even if you loathe politics - for its sheer unpredictability." Both candidates "display a marked tendency to set off America's collective gaffe-o-meter," the Hartford Courant writes, producing a "ghoulish fascination -- like waiting for a crash at a NASCAR race -- with tonight's debate." Politico notes that media figures expect it to be a ratings juggernaut, likely overtaking those of the first presidential debate.

Serious Doubts: The AP reported Thursday morning that voters harbor "serious doubts" about Palin's readiness. Fred Thompson defended her on CBS' Early Show:

"People will have a chance to see her from beginning to end without being edited," former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., told CBS' "The Early Show" on Thursday.


"We've all had bad days," Thompson said, "and she's had some bad moments in some of these interviews, just like the rest of us have had."

Palin Gives Debate Preview: Palin came out swinging during an appearance on Sean Hannity's radio show on Wednesday:

She gave a preview of how her preparations for Thursday's debate in St. Louis are going and said she has been researching Barack Obama and Joe Biden's voting records, "Everything is going well and I'm out here in Arizona getting some fresh air even as we are studying up and reading a lot of voting records and realizing how extremely liberal the other ticket is so this is a good time to be here and I so look forward to tomorrow night getting to speak to Americans about the very, very clear choice they are going to have on November 4th."

Palin also claimed she was eager for the debate since the media had been 'censoring' her: "Getting to speak directly to Americans without that filter of mainstream media trying to I think maybe censor some of my comments as we lay out those contrasts between these two different tickets."

The Format: Details on the debate mechanics:

-- Each candidate will stand behind a lecturn, making them more likely to fire zingers at each other. Dick Cheney and John Edwards were seated during their mostly sleepy 2004 VP debate.


-- The event will consist of 90-second answers, followed by two-minute discussion periods for each question. Each candidate will get a two-minute closing statement.



OCT 1: A Boston Globe editorial argues that Sarah Palin should be asked about banning rape kits in Thursday night's debate.

Numerous papers look at Palin's record as a debater. The Wall Street Journal calls her a "formidable foe." A challenger in the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial election writes a firsthand account for the Christian Science Monitor, saying Palin is "a master of ... the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality."

Here's a picture of Palin practicing for the debate with McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann:

2008-10-01-2903921607_1154fbcacb.jpg

Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO) said on Wednesday that Joe Biden "has a tendency to talk forever and sometimes say things that are kind of stupid." She seemed to regret her own words, saying, "I was probably having a Joe Biden moment myself."

SEPT 30: The New York Times looks at the vice presidential candidates' debating records and finds that Palin is fluent, but "often spoke in generalities and showed scant aptitude for developing arguments beyond a talking point or two." They conclude that Biden is an "experienced debater" but could be tripped up by his "tendency to blurt out whatever is on his mind." They add that, debating a female candidate, Biden risks coming across "as overbearing or condescending."

Watch highlights of past Sarah Palin debates that suggest she stands to dominate.

SEPT 29: Obama adviser David Axelrod says they expect a tough fight:

"I fully expect her to be ready for this debate, and I think there will be a great deal of interest in this. I think it will be a well-watched debate, so it's going to be important... She's very skilled and she'll be well-prepared. I know she's preparing this weekend. As you saw at the convention, she can be very good, so I think it would be foolish to assume that this going isn't going to be a really challenging debate. We're preparing for that, on that assumption."

Biden's spokesman tried to raise expectations even more, calling Palin "a leviathan of forensics."

McCain strategist Nancy Pfotenhauer helped, saying that while Palin would win on "wits," moderator Gwen Ifill shouldn't ask her "trapdoor questions" or too much about foreign policy.

Palin herself, meanwhile, isn't acting worried, the Washington Post reports:

"I'm looking forward to meeting him. I've never met him," she said at a rally here. "I've been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, the second grade."


She noted that Biden seems pretty confident about winning the debate.

"Then again," she said, "this is the same Sen. Biden who said the other day that the University of Delaware would trounce the Ohio State Buckeyes."

McCain adviser Nicolle Wallace is equally confident: "I seriously hope that people continue to underestimate the most popular governor in America."

SEPT 28: CNN reports that Sarah Palin will go to McCain's home near Sedona, Arizona for "debate camp" until Thursday night. An aide said McCain thought it would be an "invigorating and enjoyable place to prepare for Thursday." Palin spent the past four days preparing in a Philadelphia hotel.

The AP explains that Biden and Palin will be questioned by Gwen Ifill, senior correspondent on PBS' "The NewsHour" and moderator of "Washington Week." Each candidate will have 90 seconds to respond to a question, followed by a two-minute discussion.

SEPT 27: The Obama campaign describes Palin as a "terrific debater."

Republicans wanted shorter answer times, which they think will help Palin. Kevin Drum says the move suggests the GOP is worried. The Washington Post reports that the format sets no limit on subject matter.

Amid charges that Palin was the victim of sexism, Biden said he will treat his Republican counterpart with respect: "She is the governor of a state. She warrants respect. The only thing that I have to find out and you all have to find out is what are her views."

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