11:38pm: Amanda Carpenter, who is awesome, gives her “Wrap Up Thoughts“:
Sarah Palin was shaky at times tonight, but never lost her footing. She even managed to trip up her debate veteran opponent Joe Biden on occasion.
And, wow, what a closing statement. (With the surprise invitation to have more events…?!?!)
Ironically, Palin was at her strongest debating Biden on foreign policy, the very subject of which he is considered an expert. Palin deftly reminded viewers, over and over, Biden had openly criticized Barack Obamaâ€™s positions on the war, funding and withdrawal throughout the Democratic primaries. â€œI watched those debates, so I know what that was about,â€ she grinned. She knowingly gave the media an open invitation to replay those old tapes against the contradictory statements Biden made this evening.
At another point she fiercely labeled Obamaâ€™s withdrawal plan, â€œthe white flag of surrenderâ€ and promised John McCain knows how to win. Gutsy.
On the negative side, she awkwardly ducked a question on complex bankruptcy law and dodged a few other questions that appeared to be over her head. Instead, she referred to her extensive experience in the energy industry and status as a reformer. Not a bad distraction.
A quick word count of the 90 minute face-off tonight between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden shows that the words â€œmaverick,â€ â€œtaxes,â€ and â€œmiddle classâ€ popped up frequently in the debate.
â€œNow, what Iâ€™ve done as a governor and as a mayor is truly had that track record of reform, and Iâ€™ve joined this team that is a team of mavericks, with John McCain,â€ Palin said, kicking off a â€œmaverickâ€ count that topped off at 15.
However, Biden used the word more often, 9-6 to Palin, and sought to use it as a negative against McCain. â€œHeâ€™s been a maverick on some issues. But he has been no maverick on the things that matter to peopleâ€™s lives,â€ he said.
The word â€œtaxâ€ or â€œtaxesâ€ took top billing with at least 35 references by Biden and 32 by Palin. The tax issue is a cornerstone of the rival campaignsâ€™ appeal to the middle classâ€”Barack Obama says he will cut them for the middle class, and McCain says Obama will raise them on everybody.
11:22pm: Mary Katherine Ham:
Oddly enough, Sarah Palin was masterful tonight at exactly what she was incapable of doing in the Gibson and Couric interviews. Tonight, she was able to answer questions the way she wanted to answer them instead of doing it the way Ifill wanted her to. In particular, when asked what her Achilles heel was, she simply chose to talk about her strengths instead. It was the classic job interview, “What’s your greatest weakness” moment, and she reacted correctly. By the time she was done talking, no one remembered that the question was about a weakness. (Suddenly, the media that has argued her inability to do this was a handicap will decide her newfound ability to do it is dishonest obfuscation.)
Tonight could have been a bleed-out for the McCain campaign, and Sarah Palin may have made it a boon. I’ve been scanning the cable networks, and even Keith Olbermann can only ask desperately, “So, she didn’t do anything to help McCain, right?” because she didn’t offer him a convenient gaffe to pounce upon.
David Plouffe of the Obama campaign: “Stylistically, Sarah Palin did have a very good night,” he said, arguing only that Biden won the night on points. Last week, even though many conceded McCain won on points, all that mattered to many pundits was that Obama didn’t fall on his face, and therefore won. Suddenly, that’s not what matters to some pundits (ahem, CNN).
11:10pm: After seeing the results of the CBS and CNN focus groups as compared to Frank Luntz’s focus group results, well, I just don’t think we can trust the first two. I think Axelrod astroturfed ’em and Luntz’s are the only ones we can trust. Last week they gave the win to Obama, this week they gave the win to Palin. CBS & CNN gave the win to the Democrats each week by about the same margin. Uh, yeah, right.
11:07pm: Lorie Byrd @ Wizbang:
Sarah is no Dan Quayle. And she is no Tina Fey cartoon. And she is no drooling moron.
Democrats set the debate up better than we ever could have. If you accuse someone of being a drooling boob, you darn well better make sure they are one. Palin showed up and made all those who ridiculed her look like idiots. Case in point — Keith Olbermann. I was flipping around so I just caught bits and pieces of the post debate here and there. On MSNBC, Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell said Palin was rehearsed. Matthews said the danger with these debates is that people say rehearsed lines and they can be mistaken for intelligence. Sounds a bit like good ole Teleprompter Boy to me. But Teleprompter Boy doesn’t even rehearse the lines. He has to read them.
On Fox tonight Frank Luntz’ focus group loved Palin. All in the group raised their hand when asked if Palin won. Several in the group said they moved toward McCain as a result of the debate. Luntz said to look for the polling to change because of this debate.
Dick Morris said it was a huge win for Palin and that she exhibited a talent for communication not seen since Ronald Reagan.
Karl Rove read a list of ten things that Biden got completely wrong that were beyond dispute, then said there were about six additional items he could argue Biden got wrong.
Joe Lieberman looked exceptionally happy and had a blast on Hannity & Colmes.
My overall impression is that Palin was incredible and that Joe Biden was quite smitten with her. I don’t know how much any VP debate can move polls, but I do believe that if she had not done well it would have had a very negative impact. I would not be surprised to see Frank Luntz be right and see an uptick in the polls as a result of tonight. At this point in the race people who have not yet made up their minds often go with their gut. They want to vote for the person they feel comfortable with and the one they trust, not necessarily the candidate with all the facts memorized. Tonight’s debate reminded me of the 2000 Bush-Gore debate in which Al Gore kept referring to the Dingle-Norwood bill. Gore was Mr. Smarty Pants with all the facts, but Bush was the one that displayed the personality. It will be interesting to see whether or not the voters are moved by Sarah Palin tonight.
11:01pm: Mark Levin on Palin:
I have been involved in and observed politics for a long time. Governor Palin is a truly unique national figure. She is down to earth, personable, and smart as hell. Thatâ€™s right. She has been on the national scene for a little over a month, she has been campaigning everywhere, she has had to bone up on all kinds of national issues, and she has shown class throughout. Too often too many are persuaded by the mainstream mediaâ€™s opinion and react to that. This should be another lesson in that regard. As for some of her populist views, she cannot openly campaign against the positions of her presidential running mate. She is the bright light in this campaign from my perspective.
10:27pm: And I’m back. Kathryn Lopez, my National Review sponsor at the RNC, and fellow Sarah Palin fan, weighs in:
Sarah Palin won this debate and puts the campaign in a great position to rail against the media. Whatever she did before this debate â€” prayed? â€“ is what she should always fall back on. And my impression is what she does. And why sheâ€™s come so far so fast.
Sarah Palin is the breath of fresh air on the political scene so many hoped she is. And sheâ€™ll be honored to beat the guy whoâ€™s been in the Senate since she was in the second grade.
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