Huffpost Politics

Vice Presidential Debate: Reaction, Analysis (VIDEO)

Posted: Updated:

Below is a round up of reaction to Thursday night's vice presidential debate:

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder called the debate a wash in terms of who won, but that Palin's performance was pretty uneven:

To practiced ears, Palin memorized and repeated talking points and Biden responded to the questions and argued. Palin dodged questions and seemed vague; but then again, for those whose only impression of Palin has been the one Tina Fay performed on Saturday Night Live, she cleared the bar. Biden seemed a little unsure how tough to be at the beginning of the debate; by the beginning of the final third, he hit his stride. As the debate wound on, Palin seemed less agile when it came to constructing sentences and answers. Lots of key phrases, weird placement of conjunctions, so the gist of what she was saying was there, but it wasn't terribly clear.

Meanwhile his colleague Andrew Sullivan thought Palin was dominating Biden at the beginning, but that she faded quickly:

Biden's sobriety and authority and call for fundamental change is both reasonable and solid. It will resonate, I think. As you can read, I began this debate feeling that she was steam-rolling him. She was. But it was a steam-roller coming at you on fumes, not real fuel. She doesn't have it. Maybe one day she might. But not now. Biden's peroration was very, very strong. There is no contest here.

CNN's Bill Schneider was critical of the substance of Palin's responses:

Palin's answers do not lack confidence, they lack coherence.

The New Republic's Michael Crowley thinks Palinmania may have run its course:

Biden was about right--neither too hot nor too cold. His points sometimes digressed more than Palin's, but what he lacked in crispness he made up for in stature and confidence. And his multiple references to Scranton went over nicely in Pennsylvania, no doubt.

Bottom line: She won't be off the ticket, but there will be no second round of Palinmania, either. This was a highly entertaining cultural spectacle which probably won't have much effect on a race that is now clearly Obama's to lose.

On MSNBC, Newsweek's Howard Fineman compared Palin's performance to that of a "wolverine attacking the pant leg of a passerby."



Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes that the debate probably helped both tickets, but that shouldn't overshadow that Biden was the stronger of the two:

One thing that I think is easy to overlook here is that Biden did really well. He started a little slow. But he quickly got into his groove and in the second half there were several answers that he took the debate squarely to John McCain in a way that I thought was very effective.

So basically a win for Biden because he just did a lot better and it's Obama-Biden who want the trajectory of the race to stay as is. She made herself less of an embarrassment and gave core Republicans a reason to stop being embarrassed. But there were a bunch of flatly false or nonsensical things she said -- and we'll see those picked apart over the next few days.

Politico's Ben Smith thinks Palin's performance neutralized any negative effects she was having on the ticket, but didn't achieve much beyond that:

My quick take is that Palin passed a pass-fail test, though she flagged as the debate went on. Though she was chosen for her emotional connection, she was the drier of the two candidates. But if the central worry was that she'd be a drag on the ticket, she likely returned herself to the same status as Biden and every other running mate in memory: not, ultimately, a major factor at the polls.

Biden, meanwhile, was -- as he should have been, given his experience and skill at this -- a more effective presence, and a more lucid one. He effectively, and emotionally, used the forum to drive the Obama campaign's core message that McCain isn't the man for the economic moment.