October 3rd, 2008
05:42 PM ET

In the debate, what mattered

Program Note:

Sarah Palin and Joe Biden face off on the issues.
Join John King for the best analysis of the Vice Presidential debate!

The Next Vice President:
Biden-Palin Debate
Saturday and Sunday, 9p ET
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/17/art.vert.palin.jpg width=292 height=320]

John King | BIO
Chief National Correspondent

It was a rude intrusion on the morning-after analysis of the one and only debate between the vice presidential candidates: a new government report showing the US economy lost 159,000 jobs in September – the ninth month in a row of job losses.

Tough economic news just as the House opened debate, for a second time, on a $700 billion rescue plan aimed at stabilizing the financial and credit markets. This time, the House approved the plan, and by Friday afternoon President Bush had signed it into law.

Proof that in the big picture, the face-off between the running mates has a limited shelf life as the dominant political story. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

It was a big event for two very different audiences, maybe three.

First: Republicans.

With the polls shifting toward the Democrats, a morale booster was a GOP priority. John McCain’s economic message this past week has been somewhat erratic, to say the least, and Gov. Sarah Palin’s rocky interviews with CBS anchor Katie Couric had even many Republicans conceding she appeared far from in command of basic issues, and was perhaps becoming a liability to the GOP ticket.

Scratch that latter part. Sen. Joseph Biden won the debate on points, and was an aggressive combatant in pressing the Democratic case. But Governor Palin had her moments and, perhaps more importantly, received strong reviews from the conservative grassroots.

Her most critical role is to engage and excite the GOP base, and on that narrow point, the reviews that matter most were favorable.

Second: Independents.

The reviews favor Biden here – and while running mates don’t usually close the deal, his forceful defense of Sen. Barack Obama and his equally forceful critique of McCain could help. On issues from Iraq to the economy, Biden was direct and aggressive.

Worth noting also though, is Governor Palin’s more folksy, outsider appeal. The inside the Beltway buzz was that it was over the top, and lacked substance. But Ross Perot won 20 million votes in 1992 with similar attacks on the way Washington doesn’t work, and with frustration on the rise because of the price tag of that $700 billion bailout plan, don’t discount the potential power of that kitchen table populism.

It is a race that will be decided by the choice between two very different candidates at the top of the tickets. But a colorful 90-minute face off between the two very different candidates in the supporting roles only added to the drama of this remarkable campaign cycle.

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Judy Hyman

    Sarah Palin did not act professionally during the Vice Presidential debates. Although it was obvious that she was a "quick study" of the issues after her interview with Katie Couric, her winks, and saying things such as "darn", “say it ain’t so ,Joe”, referring to middle-class men and women as "6-pack Joes", and "Soccer Mom's", plus the hello to the elementary school class were disrespectful and inappropriate in the vice presidential debates! Would she act like that on a job interview? Would you hire someone who winked at you or acted like that on a job interview? In the debates, she was on a job interview for the 2nd highest position in this country and yet she chose to act in a very boorish, discourteous way. My husband and I will not vote for her or McCain after such a ludicrous performance. She is an appalling role model for young women and does not possess the etiquette or decorum to be the 2nd in line for the Presidency of the United States. We do vote and will vote for Obama and Biden!!!

    October 6, 2008 at 2:45 am |
  2. Mary Peoples

    As a woman who grew up in the midwest,, more specific the U.P. of Michigan. I don't remember being taught that it was approprate for me to wink at strangers, let alone a whole group of stranges. My question is...if Senator Joe Biden winked throughout the debate as Governor Sara Palin did would this have been considered unprofessional and/or sexual harrassment?

    October 6, 2008 at 2:10 am |
  3. Santiago


    Sarah Palin and Boone Pickens are working on the CNG project. A project that will allow us to pay as low as 90cents per gallon to fuel our car. It will also let us have fueling stations at home at a discount.

    I'm a democrat, but Obama from Chicago and Pelosi from San Francisco will be the most powerful people in the world starting 11/2009. Is this what we really want? McCain, Biden, and Obama are in the Senate. Shouldn't we get someone that represents the outside and the little people? I have a small business and didn't like the Biden coment of raising my taxes. More taxes will kill my little office.

    October 6, 2008 at 1:17 am |

    One other comment. Sarah's indictment that Obama and Biden are foolishly "looking backward' instead of looking toward the future is laughable. Since when did NOT looking back at the debacle of the last 7+ years of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice/Rove/Libby and the PNAC scheisters become 'intelligent and foward looking'?? I guess none of that matters???? Especially when Sarah's main squeeze, McSame, was in their hip pocket 90+% of the time??? Guess that doesn't matter either, right? Ya Betcha!! But then Sarah steps in it by borrowing several snippets of Ronald Reagan nonsense to spice up her arrogant rhetoric. Quoting Ronald Reagan isn't just looking BACKWARD, it's more like an archeological dig. That she is so arrogant and so lacking in the ability to self-reflect and keeps repeating the same convention sound bites, even when they have been proven to be untrue (Another word for LIES) speaks volumes. As many others have said: WAKE UP, AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 6, 2008 at 12:25 am |

    What was disappointing to me–given that it's likely that the McCain will now put Ms. Palin back in her Pumpkin Shell until the votes are counted–is what was NOT asked.
    For instance, what is her view on the separation between Church and State? The reason I bring this up is that Sarah, as a member of her Wasilla Assembly of God church, was 'annointed' and blessed there by a Kenyan cleric Witch Caster who preached that "There are people who are WIRED TO POLITICS because God wants to take the Spirit dimensions of our societies and those are people we should be praying for. We need the..tongue talking, devil casting... brethren right inside". He then lays hands on Sarah and asks the congregation to pray for Sarah's political ambitions because "we want righteousness in this state, in this nation". Fast forward to Palin's response that "I didn't blink, I'm WIRED that way" when she was asked be McCain's running mate. This is a woman of incredible ignorance, arrogance and ambition who, having been annointed by Muthee, must step up because it is certainly God's Will that she do so. No separation of Church and State there, folks. We fell for that line with George W. Could we be stupid enough to fall for that again? God help us.

    October 6, 2008 at 12:01 am |
  6. alice

    It is unfortunate that the moderator has full control of what questions gets asked. Hopefully at thwe town hall debates, Obama has a chance to explain his affiliation with various anti-American radicals starting with his former pastor and his connection to ACORN who is being investigated by the FBI for voter fraud in multiple states.

    October 5, 2008 at 11:58 pm |
  7. Aki

    palin is not qualified for democrats.
    She does not have America-hater friends, no radical ex-urban-terrorists and no semi-illegal activities organization relations (ACORN). Obama with no real achievement and shady associations implying dangerous judgment is qualified???... gi'me a big break!!!!!

    October 5, 2008 at 11:37 pm |
  8. bJ

    What really mattered is that Biden lied, lied and lied again. He knows the Democrasts are responsible for the economic crisis. He knows Barney Frank and Obama and Senator Dodd took money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and that Obama pushed and trained Acorn to push these bad unqualified loans to people who could not afford to make payments. He also knew that the Republicans had tried to put regulations on Lending Institutions and were blocked by the Democrats every time. He lied and pushed other ajenda just to keep from answering the true cause of the financial crisis. He also lied about the foreign affairs line that Obama did not say he would sit down with Iran's President without preconditions. I heard Obama say that with my own ears. Why would he lie- because he is covering up the truth- We don't need lies. Palin may not be a polished speaker, but she tells the American People the truth!!!!!!!

    October 5, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  9. Betty/ Iowa

    I feel I am correct-Sarah Palin is not qualified to run for VP. After reading the blogs on mudflats/word press, there are many , many people in Alaska that would agree. They hold rally's every Sat.,but I have yet to hear about them on CNN, or other media outlets. The people in the rallys have also been threatened. Scary!! They know her , much better than anyone in the lower 48. Not qualified.

    October 5, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  10. concern

    it was hard to rate sarah ..because she put on that stupid act or dum act just befor the debate ..so she would get a better rating ....so I do not see that is was so good at all ...just better than stupid ...

    October 5, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  11. Deanne Young

    The Republican Vice-Presidential running mate, a Pentecostal, praises a line from "Ronald Reagan" about the "city on the hill." As a church window designer/fabricator of some 35 years, for all denominations, with a reference library of 599 books , I know that placing a city on a hill in my window stands in for , and has for many centuries, Christ's church, the one He founded, the Christian , Catholic one, and so do all the congregants who have such windows. Not only does Paladin seem to think it is a Reagan idea but she fails to realize that it designates the Catholic Chuch. Perhaps she meant to say "The Unheavenly City" or "The Unheavenly City Revisited', but what she said was "The Catholic Church", which must shine even from a distance as an example for all. This would seem to contradict her espoused religious beliefs. She should look things up in "everything laid out in front of her to read", and then some, before shooting off her mouth.

    October 5, 2008 at 10:06 pm |
  12. Margit Rosenthal

    Since John King is always talking about Red States and Blue States, I recommend he read a recent book by Professor Andrew Gelman of Columbia University entitled Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: why Americans vote the way they do. It is unbelievably timely and an extremely good read.

    October 5, 2008 at 9:03 pm |
  13. Ann Marie

    I hope and pray McCain/Palin do NOT win, if they do I don't know what will happen to the nation. We have seen a Republican candidate for president who has supported deregulation of Wall Street for his entire 25-year career in the Senate. Why would he suddently "change" and become an advocate for increased govermental oversight. I do not have confidence in a McCain/Palin ticket. Palin is out for Palin she is way out of her league and in the lybyrinths of her mind she thinks she can fake it, and come out winning. At this point, we need strong, knowledable, responsible and accountable leadership who will think first and move in a conscientious way that will be good for the nation. America needs to know they CAN depend on and look to Washington for firm leadership.

    October 5, 2008 at 8:54 pm |
  14. Ann Marie

    Palin is a neophyte who has no interest in policy and government she is all for Palin and would cut McCain's throat if she could. McCain has no idea what he has wrought! Palin not only failed to answer the questions asked of her she failed to talk up the agenda of McCain when asked how different a McCain presidency would be after the failed Bush years. Review the tapes and see how many times she said I-instead of McCain. She was there for Palin and winked, flirted, and played up to the camera instead of focusing on her objective. McCain's agenda. I found it utterly disrespectul of her not to answer the questions posed to her–she went of on tangents. She is a perfect fit for Bush-I'll do want I want, when I want, how I want and if you don't like it, tough. I feel sorry for McCain, Palin would/will turn on him on a dime.

    October 5, 2008 at 8:43 pm |
  15. Wes in Texas

    She is being used,like no more tomorrows.She has no idea,how sick,and evil,her republicans are.Well,i feel sorry,for her son in Iraq.We on the far-left know,that something bad will happen to him,before 11-4.There's nothing,the republicans,won't do to win.

    October 5, 2008 at 7:22 pm |
  16. Rudy Griffin

    Sara Palin did a great job at the debate and so did Sen. Biden. But let us look at reality here. The country is in crisis due to failed economic policies under the Republican Bush administration. We are spending billions of dollars for a war that does not benefit the american people. Unemployment is up 8% more and rising. It has been to long that we have had a government for the few and by the few. It is time to take back America, restore trust, and build back our communties and more jobs. Surely Sen. Obama's will be the next president. Voting for Sen. Mccain would be like gambling with American lives. This is serious! Thanks!

    October 5, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  17. james

    I think Campbell Brown was born yesterday. Its like she comes in each day with no knowledge of politics and spurts out amateurish non thought out sentences with no thought. I think she has no thought, Just getting a paycheck. She is very misguided.

    October 5, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  18. Lynn McCaghren

    Palin is a whiner, self serving individual. The fact that she absolutely failed to follow the program at the VP Debate is such a telling sign of her weakness in her knowledge of so many issues. The fact that she right off the get-go tells Gwen Ifill, “And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.” tells everyone she did not respect Ifill or honor the stage she is upon. We know about her track record, heard it multiple times over. Talk about ignoring questions put to her, only shows she is not willing or able to answer questions as put to her. Questions do not follow her notes!! Reminds me of a student that cheats on exams by hiding notes. The more I hear McCain/Palin speak only reinforces my faith in and decision to vote for Obama.

    October 5, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  19. edie

    I enjoy Sarah Palin's conversation about nothing. But, I wish she would leave her baby boy at home so he can get his rest. Also, stop letting her youngest daughter hold the baby. As a concerned mother, the daughter should be at home getting rest and school homework also.

    October 5, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  20. Elizabeth

    You are posting very selectively to Obama's favour...Here is my prediction==Obama will not be the president no matter how unfair you all are to Palin.

    If Obama will be the president than America is destined to fall, and will be part of God's plan based on Old and New Testament.

    Lets see what happens... in the main time God Bless America!

    October 5, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  21. NANCY

    What mattered to me is who has the "class" to handle world leaders.
    We are in a horrible mess – We need someone who knows what has been going on all along with the war as Pres & VP – I really don't care who voted for it – I bet half the people voting for it thought it would be another six week event like the 1st Gulf War. I care about admitting we made a terrible mistake and we must bring this to an end. John McCain has insulted every American thinking we need more lies from a tuff baracuda valleygirl with absolutely no class or manners would be able to go in and represent anybody in the United States of America in any world crisis and we have alot thanks to Bush! I would never want either representing me or my family for anything – It would be like believeing Bush again that there are WMD again!

    October 5, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  22. Leslie

    Sarah, Sarah, Sarah,
    What's up with your Investigation. Can you please got and answer the question. Then when you come back you can talk, until then you can tell me nothing.

    October 5, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  23. Leslie

    It really is true that the media give John McCain a break.They never mention the Keating Five, at least I have never heard any one on CNN or any other network mention it and yet, it is so important that the president be an honest and reliable person. I was horrified at what he said at the biker convention at Sturgeon Fall about his wife and yet almost no one in media mentioned it. It goes to show what kind of person he is.

    October 5, 2008 at 12:43 pm |
  24. chris

    ANita , Clinton was the govenor of Arkansas and knew very little when he started but did a fine job except for that deregulation of lending trees. YOu might not want to dis the hardworking people who start at the bottom. Waffle house workers need love too A vp conducting herself like what. You may want to actually think before you write

    October 5, 2008 at 11:53 am |
  25. chris

    Wow it is truly amazing reading the comments that are so degrading to sarah palin. It is like you are all a bunch of followers with none of your own ideas. YOu just spit out what cnn and all the biased news people tell you to say. Do you really hate Sarah Palin for the ridiculous reasons stated. Maybe you are all from the Entitlement group that says ask what my counrty will do for me and here is the list. She is a regular woman trying to live up to th high expectations that we all have put on her. She would make sure that you all would not have to pay high taxes and earmarks in bills and fight for what is right in the world. SHe may not know everything she need to yet but I believe judgement is just as imortant as a Harvard grad or years of experience. Good judgement and honor is what we teach our children
    and what is most important. There are plenty of experienced politicians who are robbing you blind you fools.

    October 5, 2008 at 11:46 am |
  26. Kevin

    I thought the best part of the debate was when Palin was talking with pride about her Alaska "windfall profit" sharing policy she created and Joe Biden said" Barack Obama and I both support that policy and want to do that for all Americans, hopefully you can convince John McCain to do that" Immediately after that she looked like a deer in the headlights (couldn't script that one). To her credit she did recover with her deep insightful answers succeeding questions.

    October 5, 2008 at 10:30 am |
  27. Vickie MO.

    I say, give her a "Pom-Pom"! Go, Maverick's, Go!!! Another one of McCain's desperate calling's. Can't win on his own. Want to up your vote's McCain? That, 13 bedroom mansion you have for sale. I suggest you open it, as, a bed and breakfast for the HOMELESS VETERAN"S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Show how much you reallllllllllly care. If, you're not part of the solution. You're part of the problem! At least, have the dignity to do that much.Tutor Palin with someone else's speech tape's. She's sounding like a broken record. She says a lot. But, doesn't get very far with it. She's stuck on saying, the same-ole-nothing. Tell us something that, actually means "something". WINK! WINK!

    October 5, 2008 at 2:56 am |
  28. HAK

    I must admit when Sarah Palin walked up to the podium and started talking, I almost fell off my couch. She was coherent! It was amazing. It made me wonder if her previous interviews were just a ploy to lower expectations, however when she started constantly looking at her notes and ignoring questions, I realized that the previous interviews were in fact genuine. She just showed up to the debate completely rehearsed. Her performance was scripted from the blown kiss to the husband, to the can I call you Joe, to the holding the baby onstage at 11 o'clock at night. Seriously, can't she find a babysitter? And to make matters worse they also took the baby to the rally after the debate. I'm sure she loves her son, but it seems to me that she's using him as a prop during this election. Say it ain't so joe.

    October 5, 2008 at 12:25 am |
  29. Jon Green

    the actual focus group vote was 12 for Biden 14 for Palin. It was said that Biden was factual sounding. Unfortunately, if anyone were to check he only screw up 16 times including on his knowledge of the constituion. Palin also answered the questions. On those she probably was less knowledgable on her answers wer short 1-2 words. She used the rest of the time discussing what she wanted to talk about. The real sad thing is how negative this blog is and how insulting towards Palin CNN is allowing the post. SO much for their comment policy.

    October 4, 2008 at 11:44 pm |
  30. David

    To Sanda, THE reason why more conservative comments are not on CNN is that most can not or do not want to understand the reasoning or logic involved int the arguments here. Knowleadge is the key to understanding. Look for the facts.

    October 4, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  31. Ellen Kelley

    I am quite surprised at the negative response of the women. Have they spent so much time watching the coiffed, manicured women we see on television every day that they don't recognize honesty, integrity and intelligence when seen all embodied in one person? Sarah was factual in her answers and I happen to watch politics closely enough to recognize that Joe Biden made more than eight errors during the debate. The failed economic policies started during the Clinton years when the Free Trade agreements began and all politicans were 100 percent behind them. Now that the jobs have moved overseas during the past ten years, Americans are blaming the Bush administration.

    October 4, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  32. Julie- AZ

    Pretty much everyone that I know thought her peformance was ridiculous. Whether they are Republicans, Democrats, or Independents. In fact, this debate actually prompted my husband-an undecided, first time voter, to vote for Obama. The nerve of her-winking into the camera, not answering (or even understanding) the questions, was an embarassment. We've had enough of this type of ignorance, haven't we? Is it too much to ask that we have someone in the White House that has a brain? Do we really need a JOE SIX PACK up there for four more years? Enough is Enough!

    October 4, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  33. Francis

    Ask Sarah same question today, she will fumble over and over and over just like she did on CBS. One mission she had that day was release the crammed literature before they get flushed out of the brain buffer. She is Dumbest person running for higher office of our life time. God help us if this ticket make it to the white house. It will be most Catastrophic event ever happen to this country. We all know why McCain picked this dumb governor: He is desperate.

    October 4, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  34. Gregg

    Here are the facts, and the polls seem to show it: The whole folksy "Aw shucks, little ol' me" did not play well at all with Sarah's "Joe six pack" audience. Who are those people anyway? When Sarah Palin winked at the camera, my girlfriend found the gesture really offensive, as I am sure other intelligent, well educated females did. Sarah Palin did not stick to the issues, and if she were ever on a debating team and told the moderators that she did not want to actually answer the question but rather speak to the audience, well she would have been immediately disqualified. Her "say it ain't so Joe" comment which I am sure was supposed to have been the night's show stopper fell flat.
    Joe Biden stuck to the issues, did not take any personal shots at Palin with one exception, and showed that he has an encyclopedic knowledge of all the issues that were brought up. In these times I would prefer 2 gentlemen in the Oval office with a wealth of knowledge to draw upon, rather than one seasoned politician, and another that is completely out of her league.

    October 4, 2008 at 9:29 pm |
  35. zora

    can't believe that republicans defend Palin with "her being one of us", ... we don't need one like us, we need somebody who knows what he/she is doing to save this country... I can't even think that we have a vice president nominee who doesn't even know as much as I do..... a self employed , working my a... off, but still find time to read and listen to news to know what is going on and who is who and what they have done or at least I know which newspaper or magazines I read to get the news!!!!....
    all I know if McCain/Palin wins, we deserve to be a laughing matter for the world ... another dumb one in white house.....

    October 4, 2008 at 8:51 pm |
  36. Susan from MN

    Sorry, but what's up with all that winking and folksy talk. It's just too cutesy for me and not very professional. I want to vote for a candidate that's intelligent so they can fix our country. I don't want to vote for a Joe six pack or a hockey mom type candidate that pretends to be one of us. Voting for a candidate that can't answer questions intelligently, just seem like another 4-years of Bush!

    October 4, 2008 at 8:44 pm |
  37. Joanne Ridley-Pacicca

    Palin is simply too simple for the office of Vice President. Then entire debate response was scripted. Did anyone else notice the "note checking?

    October 4, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  38. E. Wagner

    Biden was the clear winner of the debate. And now the Rebublican's tactics to smear Obama with false, old, half truths is disgusting. The media would never tolerate this from the Democrats and they should demand the same of Palin and the McCain campaign. I also would like to understand how the Palins have that fabulous home in Alaska that was shown after the convention, with the income they claimed on their taxes, were the "books cooked?" Unfortunately there are a lot of people in the US that only listen to sound-bites, not whole stories. Palin's attacks and strategies should not be tolerated and covered by the media. If you can't ask her questions about what she says, don't give her air time!

    October 4, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  39. Elizabeth

    And I have never seen anyone running for president as unqualified as Obama, no experience just coached speaches and the media's love for him. Certainly CNN is very good at protecting Obama and putting down anyone else such it was with the Clintons and now with Palin...biased journalizm except you John...the same analyst always repeting the same things–I started to dislike Larry King and 360 as well, just totally biased and unfair to the country in an economy that is just about to give up on everyone–

    October 4, 2008 at 6:57 pm |
  40. Louise Massachusetts

    A big barracuda from a very small pond.

    October 4, 2008 at 6:55 pm |
  41. Angie

    These debates really get on my last nerve. All of the candidates agitated me in their debates. Why do I want to watch grown adults bicker like little children?
    Their tv ads are really too much right now as well...... I ONLY want to hear the facts and what these candidates actually stand for and believe in and will vote for. I do NOT want to hear how "bad" the other candidate is. The bottom line is this, yes the Pres & VP are the most important offices in our country.... BUT the president & vp are not the Kings of America! No one person can "fix" this countries problems just like not one person can make them. I do not get why so many people act like that isn't so. It is our entire Congress as well as our pres & vp (both dems & republicans) who need to get with it and actually realize they all work for the citizens of this country and stop behaving so irresponsibly! We all need to get out & vote intelligently for all of the offices up for re-election in every one of our local, state & national primary & general elections, not just this one. Each one is an important piece to the puzzle that is our government.

    October 4, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  42. Kim

    In conclusion ,"It's just another day for you and me in paradice.....think about it ",Obama,Biden,McCain and Palin ! We hear your reasons of justifications and support what matters but here is the bail out Bill and do you think we can do without wooden arrows,rum and will our race tracks survive and can bike rider's take a chill until we stop the economic global bleeding? Which one is talking on the stump on the now of what the bill is and getting specific ? None of them and why not ? Where would they revise the bail out bill to feed their families ? Ask that question please media !

    October 4, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  43. Brenda Harris

    I'm in Michigan. Thought this maverick was going to fight fight fight for us
    WHAT... is he out of Breath ....cough cough

    Can't stand up with the big dogs..... so he's getting out of the race.
    OH God ! and guess who is trying to be a heartbeat away.
    At the debate Palin reminded me of one of those old Shirley Temple movies Good ship Lollypop or something.
    or was she auditioning for last comic standing.

    October 4, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  44. E. Vaughn

    I call em as I see em. Sarah did fine and Biden did all the lying.

    October 4, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
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