Tonight Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin will be debating Democrat Joe Biden. The dramatic anticipation couldn’t be scripted any better. The popular media can’t stop trying to find “gaffes” in Palin; they keep trying, but have only resorted to the “possibility” of such gaffes. Here’s how an AFP article worded it: “Concerns about Palin’s readiness to take the national stage have mounted in recent days following interviews in which the first-time Alaska governor has sometimes been lost for words when faced with tough questioning.” Any specifics? None.
Meanwhile, VP candidate Joe Biden can’t seem to keep his leather shoe in his mouth. The Boston Globe ran a piece outlining his several missteps here. It’s funny, for Biden is known for having to stick his foot in his mouth, yet the press seldom hits him with reminders of his blunders. If you listen to the media, the gaffer appears to be Gov. Palin.
Well, the kids are doing their after dinner chores and we have the AM radio blaring. The debates are on, and I’ll be posting question with responses with my quick analysis. I’ll try to post some more thoughts tomorrow. Remember, I’m a debate coach and a publisher of some of the bestselling debate material in the nation, so I’ll be focused on both form and substance. Refresh this page as the debate goes on, and I’d love to see your comments…
Moderator Gwen Ifell – writing a book glamorizing Obama (will she be fair and professional?)
Republican VP Candidate Gov. Sarah Palin –
Democratic VP Candidate Sen. Joe Biden –
Ifill: House is wrestling with the $700 bailout…was it worst or best of Washington?
Biden: The economic policies of the last 8 years is what is the worst, not the bailout. Wall Street running “wild.” Democrats put in tough spot. Obama laid out basic criterion: (1) oversight, (2) focus on home owners, (3) watchdog Wall Street, (4) make sure CEOs don’t benefit too much. We need to focus on the middle class, not just wealthy. [Bush fault for all trouble]
Palin: Has this been good or bad economy? Go to a soccer game, ask a normal parent, and there will be fear in answer. The barometer shows the fed’l gov’t has not provided oversight. McCain sounded warning bell of reform, and the other Senators didn’t want to list. McCain even suspended campaign to get things fixed. [Defense of McCain’s warning in 2004]
Ifill: How will you shrink the gap of partisanship in Washington?
Biden: I’ve been able to reach across isle. McCain has been inconsistent. He’s out of touch.
Palin: McCain returned fundamental of economy is America’s workforce, the best in the world. That’s what McCain meant. Me as governor and McCain is a team of mavericks. Obama has voted 96% along party line. [Ouch]
Ifill: Subprime lending meltdown…who’s at fault? Greedy lenders?
Palin: Darn right it was the lenders. $300k house for affordable as $100k house? Deception going on, and we’re going to get rid of it. Americans need to ban together and refuse exploitation. Not the American people’s fault that the economy is doing this bad.
Biden: 2 years ago Obama warned of the problem. [He did?] McCain says he’s for cutting regulations. Obama wanted to reinstate regulations, McCain wants to deregulate healthcare industry, too. Those Americans can’t even fill their car tanks.
Palin: Reponse to tax increases, but we need tax relief. Obama and Biden voted for largest tax increases in history…94 times. That’s not we need to bolster the economy. Gov’t needs to be more efficient and live on less. Obama promoted last year to increase taxes for families making $42k.
Biden: Not true. McCain did. It was a budget procedural move, not a tax increase. [confusing answer] Notice Palin did not answer about deregulation.
Palin: On the tax thing, I want to continue press this. Taxes were reduced in Alaska. The moderator may want to stick with deregs [jab at Ifill]…
Ifill: Let’s talk taxes. You’ve proposed raising taxes, but why isn’t this class warfare?
Biden: I call this “fairness.” McCain wants to burden middle class families. No one making less than $250k will see taxes raised. [Economically ignorant.] McCain wants to relieve corporate businesses with tax breaks. Super wealthy are doing pretty well.
Palin: I take issue with redistribution of wealth principle. The $250k bracket results in millions of small businesses, and that will effect most Americans. That’s not patriotic. Government is too often the problem, not the solution. Let’s let America grow and thrive. Obama’s new $1 trillion spending is backwards.
Ifill: Defend your healthcare plan.
Palin: McCain will provide support for healthcare CREDITS. Obama’s healthcare plan is mandating healthcare. Gov’t is not the answer. Affordbility and accessability is key.
Biden: I don’t call it “redistribution”, we call it “fairness.” 95% of small businesses make less than $250k/year. [Not true] McCain’s plan is to tax to return to insurance company. This is the ultimate “bridge to nowhere.”
Ifill: What promises have you made to the American people you may not be able to keep?
Biden: We must not go forward with the tax cutting proposals of McCain. We cannot afford hold up on incentives on energy policy, education, affordable healthcare. Bottom line: eliminate wasteful spending and $100 billion tax dodge off shoring. That’s unpatriotic.
Palin: McCain doesn’t mix message. Energy plan in ’05 gave oil companies tax breaks…Obama voted for it. I took on the big oil companies in my homestate of Alaska. Bless their hearts, but they’re not my biggest fans. People were the center of my policy, Obama’s energy plan gave tax breaks to big oil.
Ifill: So there is nothing you promised that you will break?
Palin: I’ve been at this 5 weeks, so no, there is none.
Biden: Obama voted at first, there was real hope for alternative energies. Obama voted against the tax breaks. [Really?] I agree with Palin with the windfall profits she proposed, but McCain will not support it. I hope the governor can convince him of that.
Ifill: More difficult for taxpayers to get out debt. Now? What can Washington did?
Palin: The corruption and greed on Wall Street gives appreciation to McCain’s call for reform. Collegues in Senate wouldn’t go with him. Also, McCain will put politics and even campaign aside to get work done.
Ifill: Morgage holders paid the price. You?
Biden: We disagreed on that, but here’s the deal. Obama said 2 years ago that there was a subprime problem. McCain said he was surprised. We should be able to enforce payment options to help people keep their homes, not supported by McCain.
Palin: This is not so. When we talk about energy, we need to be energy efficient. [Palin is dodging the issue.] We’re pouring $ into foreign countries, many of them not friendly to America. We’re not giving oil companies tax breaks.
Ifill: Climate change…what is true and what is false?
Palin: Gov. of Alaska, I see impacts of environment. I’m not one to attribute man’s activities, but there are real changes in climate. I want to argue the solutions, not argue the causes. I formed environmental climate change cabinet for first time in Alaska. All the more reason we have an “all of above” approach to energy problem.
Biden: I think it is clearly manmade. This is probably the biggest difference. If you don’t understand the cause, it is impossible to come up with a solution. Facts…we consume 25% of oil in the world. McCain has voted again and again against clean energy solutions. We should export the technology and build clean coal. “Drill” is only solution for McCain.
Ifill: McCain supports tax on emissions, Obama supports clean coal. Clear this up.
Palin: McCain supports drilling. We have billions of nat’l gas and oil waiting to drill for hungry markets. Obama/Biden calls drilling “raping” and votes against any solution for oil. I’m surprised about what you said “clean coal,” because you said you didn’t.
Biden: My record for 25 years has supported clean coal. The quote was taken out of context about exporting the technology to China. Governor says McCain is “for everything.” But he votes against it!
Ifill: Same-sex benefits to couples?
Biden: Absolutely. No difference between same-sex and hetero relationships. Only fair, and it is what Constitution calls for.
Palin: Not if it goes to redefining the traditional definition of marriage. Now, I am tolerant of adult decisions. I have dear friends who disagree with me. But, we don’t prohibit visitation, contracts, etc…but, I don’t support anything that redefines traditional marriage.
Biden: No, I don’t support gay marriage. We don’t support that…it’s up to faith to determine that.
Palin: I do not support gay marriage.
Ifill: Foreign policy…Real clear plan for exit?
Palin: Surge that has proven to work. Obama opposed surge and funding, and Biden called him out on that. Obama turned on the troops. We have a plan for withdrawal, but we must win in Iraq. We now down to pre-surge numbers in troops, and we’re doing well, but we need to keep the pressure on.
Biden: We have a clear plan: shift focus on Afghan in next 16 months. Only odd man out is John McCain, who voted against funding the troops because it has a timeline on withdrawal. You have got to have a timeline on withdrawal. Barack says its time to turn Iraq loose. We will end this war, for McCain sees no end in sight.
Palin: You’re plan is a white flag of surrender. You guys opposed the surge, and you still can’t admit that it worked. Our commanders will tell us when we’re finished, not a timeline. You said you would be honored to run with McCain, but when you became the VP pick you changed position. Obama is different from you, for you support the troops.
Biden: McCain voted against funding troops because the amendment of the timeline. McCain and Dick Cheney have been dead wrong on the conduct of the war. Facts, Obama has been dead right.
Iliff: Greatest threat? Nuclear Iran or unstable Pakistan?
Palin: Pakistan already has nuclear weapons that can hit Israel. Iran is not even close to getting nuclear weapon. Fundamental difference McCain says it is in Iraq, but it is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We should be building school that build hearts and minds to take on terrorism.
Biden: Gen’l Patraeus and Al’Quida said Iraq most dangerous. Iran cannot be allowed to acquire nukes. Madinjad says Israel should be wiped off the earth, so we cannot allow him to have nukes. Obama wants to meet with without preconditions. This goes beyond poor judgment. A statement like this is naive.
Iliff: Engagement with enemies? Should we?
Palin: Again, some of these dictators are evil. We can’t sit with them on a presidential level. Diplomacy is very important, hard work with clear objectives, with friends/allies on your side.
Biden: Not true. Obama didn’t say he wanted to sit down with Iran. The theocracy controls Iran. Our friends and allies want us to sit down and talk with the adversary. After 5 years, Bush finally sends people to talk. If we don’t go extra mile with adversary, what kind of diplomacy is that? McCain won’t even sit with Spain.
Iliff: Two-state solution in Israel?
Palin: Yes, with assurance that there is never another holocaust. Israel is a peace-seeking nation that we can work with.
Biden: I am a friend of Israel. Bush administration has been an abject failure. Hamas won after Bush insisted on votes, and now Hezbolah is legitimate part of country. Only thing on the march is Iran. We will change with thoughtful diplomacy standing behind Israel.
Palin: I’m glad we both love Israel. There has been huge blunders in the Administration, but for a ticket that wants to talk change there is too much finger pointing. [Oh, that was good.] Country first, partisanship aside. Change is coming.
Biden: How different is McCain from Bush? I haven’t heard much difference. We will make significant change to become the most respected nation in world.
Iliff: Nuclear weapons…should there be a trigger response?
Palin: Nuke response is the absolute end solution. For those countries who have weapons, we must continue the pressure like on North Korea. Afghanistan: The Bush administration is not the same as McCain. The surge needs to be implemented in Afghan, too. Obama has said we’re killing villages in Afghan…wreckless comment. [Ouch]
Biden: Our commanding gen’l said today that surge will not work in Afghan. [Dodges biggest jab.] Arms control requires comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, McCain did not support.
Palin: The surge principles would not work? Merely accounting for different principles. Counterinsurgency principles will work, and that’s what was reported today. Leaders have said nothing but that.
Biden: Well, uh, our gen’l did say that [looked really stupid]…change subject quick, Obama supports more troops in Afghanistan.
Iliff: Intervention in Kosovo, Darfur, etc. American’s support?
Biden: We support success. I supported sanctions before war, and we needed support from international community. Dafur needs intervention. I’ve been to camps in Chad and seen the suffering. We need to get involved to stop genocide.
Palin: It’s so obvious that I’m not an insider. Voting for the war but then come out against. Straight talk is needed in Washington. Biden opposed Obama and supported McCain, and this is doublespeak. America is in position to help Darfur, Sudan.
Iliff: Line to draw?
Biden: Absolutely. When a country involved in genocide, that country forfeits their right against intervention. Obama and I held hearings before war that showed that Iraq was bad idea. McCain has been wrong since beginning.
Palin: I disagree. McCain was out to win the war. Obama and Biden are changing position from what they voted. [Wide open door: there was genocide in Iraq!!!]
Iliff: If pres died, how would you do things differently?
Biden: Obama’s policies would continue. Affordable healthcare, tax breaks, energy policy toward independence, new jobs, blah, blah, blah. [Talking points.] I agree with everything Obama says.
Palin: Team of mavericks, we won’t agree on everything. I keep wanting ANWAR, and we agree to disagree. I will continue to push gov’t off people and bring Wasilla mainstreet to Wall Street. Inaction of Congress is problem that we need corrected.
Biden: Ask anybody, this administration has been hard on people. What single thing has McCain done?
Palin: “Say it isn’t so, Joe.” [Funny, charming.] Bush isn’t running. Education, much more focus on that. Schools need to be ramped up, teachers need to be paid more, “No Child” needs to be revamped, I’m very concerned.
Iliff: What does the VP do?
Palin: Of course we know what a VP does — preside over the Senate, and get the authority from Pres. Energy independence, reform of gov’t, parents of special needs, can’t wait to get to work.
Biden: McCain never supported education. Role of VP: my record shows that I get things done, I’d be point-person in Senate, I would help govern as adviser, I have independent judgment which is my rep.
Iliff: More power to VP?
Palin: Our Founding Fathers allowed flexibility in office of VP. We will tap that position to usher in agenda in agreement with president.
Biden: VP Cheney has been the most dangerous VP in history. Art. 1 of Constitution defines the VP position. The VP must support the pres. Only when there is a tie must the VP do anything.
Palin: My experience as a governor will be put to use. As governor of huge energy-producing state, I will lead. More importantly, my connection with the heart of America is where I will bring experience to Washington. The worldview of “America is a nation of exceptionalism” is most important. Democracy, tolerance, freedom, equal rights…that’s what we share on the ticket and we back it up with a track record.
Biden: I’m not gonna change. 30+ years in office has my record. McCain voted against change. I understand what it’s like to be a single parent [he does], sit around kitchen table with no money [does he?]. I live in a beautiful house that is my total investment. [Chokes up.] I understand. Those people are looking for help.
Palin: People aren’t looking for more of the same, they’re looking for change. McCain and I have taken on own party, worked with both sides of the isle, whatever to get the job done. McCain’s rep shows diverse policy and partisanship shows he is the man to lead.
Biden: [Interrupts.] Let’s talk about “maverick.” He’s been no maverick. He’s voted for Bush budget 5 times, he hasn’t provided healthcare, education, tax cuts, war. Things that people really talk about is not McCain’s issues.
Iliff: Final Question. Single issue that you had to change on.
Biden: I was the first to forthrightly state judicial appointing.
Palin: I “caved” on budgets that I did not cave to. There were times I wanted to cut taxes more and cut spending more, but I have never needed to compromise on most general principles.
Iliff: Both about bipartisanship: How do you change the tone as #2?
Biden: I have been able to work across the aisle. I have never questioned the motive of another member of Congress. That’s fundamental change, not questioning motives.
Palin: You do what I do: walk the walk. In my family, we have great diversity. At the end of the day, as long as we’re out for the greater good, we can all push policies that we believe in. Support our ticket, not Obama’s. $1 trillion spending proposal is Obama.
Palin: I like to answer questions without the filter of media. I want to speak the American people. We’re gonna fight for the families. We have to fight for economic and nat’l security freedoms. Reagan had it right. One man has ever fought for you: McCain.
Biden: Look folks, this is most important election in your life. Last 8 years have been bad. Obama and I don’t want to cut regulations on big business, but we want to support troops and when they come home they get health care.
OVER: Initial reaction, Palin won. By a long shot. She connected and got her points in along with a few good jabs. Biden didn’t really strike on much. Ifill was surprisingly fair and balanced, though the homosexual marriage question was a curve ball. But, Palin turned it to a non-issue. It was a good debate that did what it should have done: clarified the positions of the candidates while exposing the weaknesses of those very positions. I can’t wait to read your comments…