Vice Presidential Debate Highlights

(Editor's Note: As the usual public service after major debates during the presidential campaign, this blog is providing video highlights of the salient moments. This post includes video highlights from the first and only meeting between Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. This debate was held at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.)

by Rick Rockwell

More than any debate featuring candidates for the position of vice president in modern times, the media built anticipation for the contest between Gov. Palin and Sen. Biden. Some might say the media hyperbole surrounding this debate surpassed even the usual focus on the verbal clashes between the presidential candidates.

Some of this was the rubber-necking effect. Average viewer and pundit alike wanted to see if Palin could operate without a teleprompter or if she would fumble questions like her high-profile interviews on ABC and CBS. Likewise, Biden is known for his own gaffes and verbal missteps during the campaign. So getting them both in the same highly charged room held as much entertainment value as it did political import.

For the most part, Palin proved sturdy in the face of Biden's experienced rhetoric; she used colloquialisms and simple language to paint herself as part of the middle class. During the first 20 minutes of the debate, Palin seemed more nervous: ducking and doging questions from moderator Gwen Ifill and Biden's barbs. Although she proved she does not know the difference between corporate monopoly and corporate oligarchy and that she has the same wrong-headed notion about the Constitutional authority of the vice president as the one held by Dick Cheney, Palin went toe-to-toe with Biden.

During a bit more than 90 minutes, the debate covered a wide range of topics from taxes, energy policy, the economy, foreign affairs, and even an unlikely agreement over gay marriage. The first third of the debate focused on the economy, taxes, energy policy, and the bank bailout plan. During this segment Biden pointed out that Palin was not directly answering the moderator's questions.

During the foreign policy section of the debate, Palin defended the Bush administration's policies in the Middle East and clashed with Biden on Afghanistan.

Following immediately from the previous segment, Biden discusses his proposal for direct military intervention in Darfur and the candidates discuss presidential succession.

Although Biden and Palin will not debate again, the next presidential debate will be held Tuesday, Oct. 7 at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.

For more background on the 2008 campaign, please see these archival posts:
(The photo of Sen. Joe Biden shows him campaining in January 2007 at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., making a speech before labor leaders when he was still running for president. The photo is by SEIU International via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)

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