Gwen Ifill starts. The candidates are all smiles and first names. . .
First question to Joe Biden. Was the bailout bill the worst or best of Washington?
Biden gives the perfect answer — it’s not the best or worst of Washington in dealing with a major cataclysm — but rather a question of how we got there and what the stewardship of the economy has been.
Biden is great with lines — he talked about Main Street, economically stressed people in their homes, and taxpayers as “investors.”
Palin just whacked the Bush years for its lack of oversight of the economy and said McCain was a guy who “even suspended his campaign” to focus on this problem. . .not a great start but not a bad start. . .
Biden sticks it to Palin and says McCain just weeks ago said the economy is strong — fundamentals sound — and then flipped.
Palin responds to workers — says McCain was speaking to them, not just about the economy. She has reached out to workers and soccer moms and working families who are fearful about the future.
Palin blames “predator lenders” for the subprime crisis — and says there is corruption on wall street and wow. . .says directly to “soccer moms” and “joe six pack” that “we” should never let this happen again. Pretty direct to working class Americans. She’s more shrewd than folks may have thought.
Hmmm…I hope that the advisers and stage directors haven’t toned Joe Biden down too much. I like him when he’s wound up, going after his opponent ferociously. He should be tougher on her — going after her soundbites.
Finally. . .Biden goes after her for not being honest about John McCain’s deregulation record — and then she knocks back Ifill and Biden saying she’s not going to answer questions they want and talk directly to the American people. I don’t know how average Americans liked that, but I didn’t think it was too swift of Palin.
Biden. . .fairness, “the Middle Class is struggling. . .”, no one under $250,000 of income in the Obama plan will see a tax rise. He’s speaking to the Middle Class. He’s doing what she was doing — and that’s evening this encounter out. I hear the sense and logic in Biden’s comments — but I do miss his classic zingers which haven’t emerged yet.
Palin has not had any clear gaffes yet. Biden is meeting expectations — but thus far, she is exceeding them.
Now she’s trying to share some “details” of the McCain health care plan. Smart answer. Decent contrast of principles and issues with the Obama health care plan. She’s coming off as a libertarian, anti-government type on health care. Don’t know if the public will buy it in this environment, but she was articulate.
Biden is getting revved up. He says McCain is going to tax the health care plans of Americans in order to pay for the McCain $5,000 tax credit. LOL….Biden just called the disruptions caused by the McCain health care plan the “ultimate bridge to nowhere.”
Given constraints on the economy now, Biden says that we’ll have to probably slow down foreign assistance and then goes after an impressive list of corporate welfare tax cuts — but says we will not going to slow up on education and affordable health care, and other items that just swished past me. Biden is also against offshore strategies to avoid taxes — and stood by his statement that this was “unpatriotic.”
Palin is painting herself as the oil company slaying gladiator while Obama is one to acquiesce to big energy firms. . .none of her lines on this are memorable. Or maybe I’m just tired.
Palin just asserted that John McCain wouldn’t take anything off the table that he had promised because of the troubled economic circumstances we are in. She’s asserting that he would do nothing and smiling about it.
Biden just cited the windfall profits tax that Palin supported in Alaska but which McCain does not support in Congress. Point Biden.
Palin used the term “mainstreeters like me. . .” Good line actually.
Biden is the least wealthy Senator in the U.S. Senate (100 out of 100). I’d put him on Main Street too.
Palin all about energy, energy, energy. . .independence.
Ifill asks Palin about climate change. “We know it’s real, I’m not one to attribute every activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet, but there are real changes going on in our climate, and I don’t want to argue about the causes.”
But she wants to reduce carbon emissions. If she doesn’t agree that carbon emissions contribute to climate change, than why reduce?
Biden gets the logic right. To change the pattern of climate change, we need to come to terms with causes. That’s a solid answer. I wish he’d just get riled up though — he’s staying calm. Calm. Smart but calm. I like Biden but would love some high octane zingers. He just gave one — it will take ten years to get a drop of oil out of any of the new wells McCain and Palin are talking about.
What does Palin keep looking at when she looks down? Does she have a cheat sheet?
Yo…question is would Biden support giving rights to same sex couples? Biden says hospital visitation, life insurance rights, ownership and more — the same constitutional rights are deserved by same sex relationships. Good answer.
Palin is opposed to redefining marriage — but says she is “tolerant.” Some of my best friends are gay. . .
Joe Biden and Obama oppose redefining marriage — and Biden just sort of whacked her fake answer on giving gay couples the same constitutional rights as any other Americans. She refused to go further.
Now to foreign policy. She’s happy about the surge. Saluted Petraeus and McCain. We are getting closer and closer to victory. . .all good points that sell to folks who want to hear platitudes and not reality.
Biden said “with all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan.” And Biden just called Palin out telling her that McCain voted the same way they did on war funding.
Ifill is limp tonight — not pushing anything. Jim Lehrer would tease stuff out, push here and there — and she’s letting off Palin and Biden with framing that should be kicked in the side. McCain’s people may have intimidated Ifill these last few days over the controversy about her forthcoming book.
We cannot have moderators who don’t push. This is too important an encounter.
Biden scored a zinger after Palin paid respect to Biden for his support of the troops – but then said “another story” on Obama. Biden was very good and strong in saying John McCain voted against war funding.
Now to Pakistan. Biden is showing great facility in talking about news and the tough neighborhood of Pakistan, Iran, and the environs. Biden says if we have an attack against the U.S., it will come from Pakistan — not Iraq.
Wow…Palin just said Ahmadenijad, Kim Jong Il, and the Castro brothers — she’s been studying.
I don’t agree with her view, but Palin did well on handling the negotiation with world leaders question. Palin said “Diplomacy is hard work by serious people. . .friends and allies lined up. . .and the like before sitting down with dictators who hate America.”
Biden is constantly strong — and raised the issue I was on Keith Olbermann’s show about — Spain. Biden reminded that McCain would not even sit down with the President of Spain, an American ally.
Palin supported a two state solution in Israel/Palestine — but also hit the buttons that Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. She just said that she wants the US Embassy in Jerusalem. That will strike a few matches.
Biden reminds that noone has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. Probably true. And then he rips a hole in the Bush administration’s Middle East policy — calling it “an abject failure.”
Ugh…did she say, “So happy to learn that we both love Israel.” This is false choice rhetoric that is weak and pretends that hugging one side of the Middle East equation solves things. It does not.
Biden is getting revved up again — he doesn’t know how McCain will differ from Bush on Israel, Iran, and more. . .Great segment there.
Ifill asks when nukes should be used. Palin says that they are the be all, end all. Says US systems are a deterrent. Not bad. She knows more than she would have a few weeks ago.
Biden: “Our commanding general in Afghanistan said that surge principles that were used in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan.”
Biden is a pro. It’s clear in every response. He went after McCain for voting against nuclear arms control regimes like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Sarah Palin is not doing badly actually — but her performance is amateurish. In terms of speaking to her audience, the ones inclined to support her, I think she’s probably connecting — but she’s still coming off as a junior, unprepared, somewhat amateurish force in the debate.
What she’s retained though and how she has framed her responses is not just from rote. She’s thinking — and she’s aggressive. It’s interesting to watch and hear how she frames her responses.
Palin. . .”oh, woe is me, I’m just an outsider who doesn’t know how you insiders do it.” Isn’t she running with one of the consummate inside players in DC? John McCain’s been a power player in the country for ages.
Biden was asked whether there was a line that mattered when we went into a country or not. He said the first measure is to know whether our action would achieve a desired result or not. That’s the right answer.
Ifill asks the heartbeat away question. How would a Biden administration be different than an Obama administration? Biden said he would implement Barack Obama’s plans on education, heatlh care, infrastructure investment, ending the Iraq War and generating a better foreign policy that engages allies in collaboration rather than dictating to them. Really good answer. Biden is turned on; reminds people that this is a vital, critically important election.
Palin said they are a “team of mavericks” and not going to agree on everything. She’d disagree with him on ANWR oil drilling — but agrees with him on reform and getting rid of the greed and corruption on Wall Street.
Whoa….she just said that she wanted the Senate to grant more authority to the Vice President. We’ve already had that with Cheney informally but brutally. I can’t believe that she just said she wanted the Senate to extend more power and authority than constitutionally provided for to the Vice President.
Biden gave a solid answer. He’d be in the room – a general portfolio – giving advice but recognizing that Obama was president.
Palin just said “we have a lot of flexibility in there” about how to work the vice presidency vs. the constitutional role in the Senate.
Biden: “Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president in the history of the country.” I couldn’t agree more.
Biden went right after Cheney’s attempts to aggrandize power and generate the notion of the “unitary executive.” I wish Gwen Ifill had asked Palin about her thoughts on “the unitary executive” – a concept cobbled together from past efforts to build an imperial presidency that can defy the checks and balances of government. John Yoo, David Addington and Richard Cheney were major promulgators of the unitary executive theory of the presidency.
Palin is getting too much platitude time. Not that it’s making her shake the amateurishness of her style.
Biden crafted the violence against women act, put thousands of cops on the street, worked hard on Bosnia’s aggression. Biden just had a very emotional moment about talking about being a single dad, being poor, and working hard to make it….powerful answer. Not scripted. Not false. Interesting and unexpected moment.
Just eight minutes left. . .
Biden says John McCain no maverick in providing health care for people, not a maverick on education, not on a maverick on the war, not a maverick on anything that people generally talk about around their kitchen table. . .very good answer.
Joe Biden on John McCain: “A maverick he is not. . .”
Joe Biden gave good answer that he had evolved and changed in his view that the president should almost always have the court appointments he believed in, particularly on the Supreme Court. Biden said he went against his earlier views and opposed the appointment of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court — a battle that he helped win.
Palin’s “caving” on issues of things she had to pass or veto in Alaska went into non-specific territory. So, no zinger or memorable line there.
Biden gave a mature answer because he doesn’t question the “motives” of people who come to Congress — even when he strongly disagrees with them.
Palin said she follows the same path, works across the aisle, and appoints competent people in her experience in Alaska (some might debate this of course). . .and then really hit all of the bullet lines that appeal to conservatives and paint Obama-Biden as the real “job-killing” liberals.
Palin’s closing statement was powerful — wrapped the life every middle class family wants to have in the American flag. Nice performance.
Biden ends by stating that this is the most important election that they’ve participated in during their life. He reflected on the eight years of digging into a hole that the Bush administration has done. He said we should benchmark progress on all sorts of personal stories of advancement and improvement, dignity and respect.
Very uplifting and powerful from Biden.
It’s 4:30 am here in Vienna, Austria where I’m watching this.
My view is that this was a win for Biden who came off as a real pro — solid, informed, steady, fair, and Biden had a touching, emotional moment reflecting on his kids. I think that this was one of the best performances overall Biden has given — and while I wanted him to rev up to perhaps reckless levels, the fact that he didn’t was impressive.
But this was not the loss for Palin that many expected and some even wanted. She had no real Katie Couric-interview like moments and held her own with some occasional bursts of complex answers. She connected with people on an emotional level. I think Palin came off as amateurish, particularly on foreign policy.
Biden gets a win from TWN tonight. He was just solid and excelled, but Palin did OK. She was not a disaster by any means.
In the first presidential debate, I thought McCain had the edge. Now, I’m looking forward to the next debate between the top seeds.
— Steve Clemons
Here are some comments sent in from other observers:
TWN Contributor Richard Vague
Palin bumbled along just fine–her evasions and stumbles were minimal, and only slightly painful. The audience groaned or giggled at those moments she was particularly evasive. Her hominess and folksiness worked well and didn’t seem to wear too thin during the 90 minutes. I’m not sure the Bush folks appreciated her comment that they had made “major blunders.”
Biden did well, was gracious, and clearly knew the much more detail than Palin, but I’m not sure how much of that the average voter would notice.
Plently of energetic and vocal support for Palin inside and outside the auditorium. A women seated near me was wearing a Palin sweatshirt.
Palin was about as well prepared as a governor from Alaska could be in five weeks.
From inside the auditorium it looked pretty close. I think that’s all Obama and Biden needed.
TWN Contributor Brian Till
About fifteen minutes left and the press area’s getting restless. Lots of people moving around. Relative calm has given way to some outright laughter at ‘dog gonnit,’ a third grade shout-out and Palin’s second and hopefully final wink of the night.
European Journalist Watching Frank Luntz Focus Group
Steve, in case it didn’t work out in the Kaffeehaus — FoxNews’s Luntz group was evenly split on Palin before the debate, and after it they all save one thought Palin was great. In my own view, the was very evasive on a lot of questions, but she unleashed a barrage of main street charm onto Senator Biden, who had some trouble to not look old, although he was unleashing a barrage of facts on her.
— Steve Clemons