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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Biden-Palin VP Debate Live-Blogging

George Wenschhof

Tonight, at 9:00 PM ET, the Vice-President debate will finally get underway. It is hosted by Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The debate is moderated by Gwen Ifill of PBS and will last for ninety minutes. It will be broadcast on CNN, MSNBC, and other cable channels so check your local listings.

The agreed upon format is there will be no limit on the subject matter. Each candidate will have ninety seconds to answer a question, followed by a three minute discussion. The candidates will end the debate with two minute closing statements.

Much has been speculated as to how each candidate will perform in what will be the only vice-president debate. Both candidates have been practicing this week for the debate, receiving advise from their staff so expect more controlled answers. Also, look to see the candidates address the opposing candidate for President and their position on the issues, rather than to attack each other.

Gaffes are possible by either candidate tonight as Biden has talked past the close in the past and Palin has looked like a Moose caught in a spotlight. Yet, I believe they will try to restrain themselves and guard against a "got ya" moment.

Also, pay attention to their body language as much as what they say. The candidate that connects with the TV audience will have the advantage with the voter, regardless of how they answer the question. Richard Nixon sweating and looking nervous while debating Kennedy and Gore repeatedly sighing and walking over and invading the space of Bush are two instances. These are images voters who watched those debates remember, more so than what was said by the candidates.

The early word put out by the McCain campaign is that Palin will be more like herself and the image presented at the Republican National Convention where she gave an enthusiastic and rousing acceptance speech. She is expected to attack Biden on taxes and his positions on foreign policy. She has also been using the saying "Joe six-pack" in recent speeches trying to appeal to working class voters so look to see her use it tonight.

I will begin blogging on the debate right here when it gets started at 9:00 PM ET. Well, we are moments away from the start of this debate. i was informed the candidates will be seated during the debate. Let's see how they do:
Whoever told me they would be seated was wrong - I'm looking at two empty lecterns on the stage. First question is the bail out bill and how Congress is looking. Biden - evidence of the failures of deregulation. Obama laid out oversight, focus on main street, make sure CEOs don't benefit- we are going to change the focus of the economy.
Palin-starts talking about parents at a soccer game- fear from parents, fear about how to pay for college, etc. Government needs reform - McCain sounded the alarm for this 2 years ago with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
2nd question - polarization in congress - Biden points out McCain two weeks ago said the economy was fundamentally sound and then changed his mind. Palin - McCain is pleased to work with another maverick - Obama has voted 96% of the time along party line. We need a change.
Economic problems caused by? Palin - greed and corruption on wall street - here we go with Joe 6-pack and Hockey moms - demand strict oversight of these entities. Don't live outside of their means - never again will be taken advantage of.
Biden - McCain was surprised- was for deregulation which led to the crisis- Obama called for re-regulating, John voted against it. McCain also called for deregulation of health care. Middle class needs help now and Obama is for that.
Ifill, lets talk about taxes - over 250,000 - Biden - it is what I call fairness. No one making less than 250,000 will see an increase in taxes. Economic engine of America is the middle class. Higher income will have increased taxes. Palin - you said paying higher taxes is patriotic - Obama's plan does not address small business. McCain proposing a 5000 tax credit so they can purchase their own health care as opposed to universal health care.
Biden - small businesses do not make more than 250,000. McCain taxes your current health care benefit to give you the 5000 credit. He calls McCain's health care program the ultimate bridge to nowhere - best line tonight so far!
Palin - your running mate voted for the tax breaks for oil companies - I had to take on the oil companies in Alaska as Governor - people are going to come first. There is nothing I would take off the table due to the economic crisis. Biden voted for a energy bill because it provided for alternative ebergy. McCain in his budget calls for 4 billion in cuts for Exxon Moblie - he supports palins windfall tax she did in Alaska - McCain does not - ouch!
The questions are flowing from one to another without clear distinction. However, it has been a good discussion so far.
Climate change and causes - Palin - we feel those changes in Alaska -I don't want to argue about the causes - we need to clean up the planet-need to become energy independent. Biden - it is clearly a man made problem - if you don't understand the cause then it is impossible to come up with the solution. McCain has voted against wind, solar, etc. in the past. McCain has voted 20 times against alternative energy sources. Palin - "drill baby, drill" is the saying and what people want to see.
support same sex benefits to couples? biden - yes, it is only fair. These questions from Ifill are all over the place. Palin - not if it changes the definition of marriage between one man and one woman.
support gay marriage? Obama-Biden - no. Palin - no
Foreign policy - real clear plan for an exit from Iraq? Palin -McCain supported the surge. Obama voted against funding our troops. we are getting closer to victory. Biden - Obama has offered a clear plan for withdraw. McCain voted with Obama on the vote to fund the troops because he did not want a timeline. McCain has no end in site for this war. Palin- your plan is a white flag of surrender - Obama can not admit the surge worked. Biden - McCain voted against the funding because the amendment had a timeline. McCain has been dead wrong on the fundamentals of the war and Obama has been right.
Pakistan and Iran - Biden - both can be game changers. McCain's problem is he is focused in Iraq instead of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Palin - both are dangerous. She goes into the McCain argument that Obama statement of speaking with enemies is dangerous.
Biden - five secretaries of state have encouraged diplomacy and discussion between countries. McCain said he would not even speak with Spain, a NATO ally - this was a zinger.
Israel -Palestine - Palin-two state solution she does support - Israel is a US ally and will always be. Biden - I have always been supportive of Israel. The Bush administration has been a failure in this area. Palin - does not feel the Bush administration has been a failure.
Palin starts with "change is coming" chant. Biden is quick to cut this off.
Nuclear weapons trigger to be put in use - Palin - struggles with this - starts talking about rouge countries and keeping them from acquiring nuclear weapons. She never answers the question. Biden - Afghanistan - commander said the surge used in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan. We spend more money in 3 weeks in Iraq than we spent in the last seven years in Afghanistan.
Biden discusses his experience with Bosnia, Darfur, Iraq, etc. Palin - I'm an Washington outsider - you were for the war before you were against it. agreed about Darfur. Biden responds to Palin - McCain's position on Iraq has been wrong from the start.
VP a heart beat away from President - Biden - would be a tragedy - would carry out Obama's programs helping the middle class, a new energy policy, a new foreign policy. Palin - a team of mavericks we will not always agree. I would continue his work - we need a little of reality from Wasilla main street - Government needs to get out of our way. Biden - McCain has no new initiatives from the Bush administration - corporate America has been rewarded not the middle class. Palin - now there you go again Joe - a line I'm sure she had been waiting to use.
what does a VP do? - Palin - my attempt was a joke - preside over the senate. making sure i am supportive of the President. I would lead in the area of energy independence and with families with special needs. Biden - McCain has never supported education. Obama has asked me to be the point person in legislative initiatives - major decisions- Obama asked me to give my advise- criticized Cheney.
Biden - talked about being a single parent and spoke of when his wife and daughter passed away - choked up briefly. Palin - on and on about supportive of the maverick. Biden - McCain against education, health care, war - he has been against kitchen table issues.
Biden brings up the appointment of Supreme Court Justices - sure to happen under the next administration - good point!
Palin closing statement - fight for Americans - fight for our freedoms - egaad!
Biden - last 8 years have dug a a very deep hole - need for a change in economic and foreign policies. progress needs to be measured on what we have done for the average American not the Exxon Mobile corporations. Mentioned his dad's line, when you get knocked down get back up - well it's time for America to get back up, they are ready, Obama is ready and so am I.
Well, it's over. The format left something to be desired. Hard to tell what question was being asked and what was being answered- especially when it came to Palin - she was very scripted and answered what she wanted, regardless of what the question was-actually not answering some questions. She performed better than what some conservative Republicans feared, even though she never really answered questions that were asked of her. Biden did well pointing out that a McCain administration would be more of the same as the last 8 years of the failed policies of the Bush administration. His tearing up momentarily when talking about the death of his first wife and daughter was moving.
The first presidential debate I called a draw and the polls indicated Obama won. I want to say Biden won on the issues in this debate. Palin held her own without being specific on issues. They both connected with their support base. I hate to say it again, but I call it a draw. Again, not a game changer.
It's now spin time for the campaigns - Let's see what the polls say. Then it's on to the next two Presidential debates. The economic crisis has contributed to a substantial gain by the Obama campaign as evidenced in the swing state polls we published in the last two days. It is doubtful to me this Vice-President debate will move the needle at all.

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