vp debate

Will the Real Sarah Palin Please Stand Up?

Following the GOP convention last month, John McCain’s campaign had an extraordinary opportunity to capitalize on the excitement and good will that Sarah Palin brought to the ticket. Instead, they failed miserably.

Fortunately for the McCain campaign, last night’s debate performance offered a new opportunity. Palin’s uncomfortable interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric are old news. Her grasp of policy -- albeit jittery at times -- demonstrated that she has what it takes to be McCain’s No. 2.

What she does next -- or more importantly, what the McCain campaign allows her to do next --will define whether she has what it takes to define conservatism for the next generation.

It was about a month ago when I outlined Palin’s promise and peril. My opinion is largely unchanged. Conservatives should still be very skeptical given what little we know about her. The fact that we learned little about Palin’s worldview until last night is startling. And even then, it's hard to know if those were her thoughts or someone else's words.

Last month I posed these questions:

Will Palin follow in McCain's footsteps? Or will she charter her own course that remakes the right? She seems like a great leader. So where does she want to lead? Putting aside the talking points, what is her actual, governing philosophy? What are *her* priorities? Will she be a manager or transformative?

A month later, we still don’t have clear answers.

That’s why over the next month, the McCain campaign needs to let Palin be herself. Here are three things she can do:

  1. Solo town hall meetings. This would erase doubts about Palin’s inability to answer tough questions. Putting her in front of an audience that can ask unpredictable questions would show that she’s comfortable talking directly to Americans and also eliminate the media filter. It ties in perfectly with McCain’s straight talk message.
  2. More radio and TV interviews. As Conn Carroll notes, putting Palin before Gibson and Couric was like sending a baseball player to the majors without any practice. The campaign’s miscue can be corrected. From now until Nov. 4 she should be doing conservative talk radio daily (she’s only spoken to Hugh Hewitt so far) and sitting down with local radio or TV journalists in the cities she’s visiting.
  3. Outreach to bloggers. At the lowest point in the McCain campaign, his team turned to bloggers for a biweekly call with the candidate. McCain was only one in either party to do this regularly. It built tremendous rapport and allowed bloggers to quiz McCain about timely issues. Doing this would also put Palin in contact with her staunchest supporters and bypass conservative media elites.

The American people didn’t get to know Sarah Palin over the course of the past month. With the clock ticking, there’s no time to waste.


How we will know Sarah Palin won the debate?

When by Saturday morning the event is no longer discussed by cable TV and print wire services.

I think there is a huge sense of disappointment in the media, They were convinced that they had a train wreck waiting to happen, and much to their dismay, both trains made it to the station.

I have to say this was about the best Joe Biden I've seen, but he's still trying to peddle the "poor boy from nothing "line to steal Sarah's thunder. I could go on and on about Biden's mansion, his lobbyist son, his MBNA deals, but maybe we ought just look at where he went to high school.


From 1910 until 1931, Archmere was the beautiful country estate of John J. Raskob, his wife, Helena Springer Green, and their 12 children. Chairman of the Board of General Motors and Vice President in charge of finance for the DuPont Company, Raskob was recognized as one of the most successful and influential financiers of his time.

Between 1916 and 1918, the Raskobs had constructed on their 48 acre property an elaborate home, The Patio, a fine example of Italianate, Renaissance architecture, and Manor Hall, a servants' quarters. While the Raskobs lived at Archmere, the house was alive with activity. During the presidential campaign of 1928, Archmere was the scene of many meetings of the Democratic National Committee. Raskob was campaign manager for the party's presidential nominee, Governor Al Smith of New York.

The history of Archmere as a college preparatory school began in the spring of 1932 when Bernard Pennings, Abbot of the Norbertine Order, made what must at the time have seemed a risky decision to purchase the Raskobs' Delaware River Estate for $300,000....

Archmere's mascot, the Great Auk, frequently compared to a large penguin by neighboring schools, is the only known one of its kind in the United States.

OK, all you folks out there who went to a snooty prep school with the "Great Auk" as a mascot, get down to Home Depot and start campaigning for Biden!



Sarah is Back

Tonight, Sarah Palin was sharp, articulate, and connected with the middle class. The #1 political effect tonight will have is an important one for the McCain campaign: she shut the doubters up, and then some. In this important sense, she stopped the bleeding. I suspect that a very tough couple of weeks ends tonight, and it will be up to John McCain to get the comeback going next Tuesday.

Conservative weak sisters like Kathleen Parker and David Brooks can turn their pens in another direction. Tonight, they've been silenced. At the convention, I wrote this about Palin and the GOP establishment pundits and consultants:

But the fact still remains that if you are thrilled about Palin, you have a grassroots sensibility. If you are not, you have an elite/establishment sensibility. The delegates on the floor are the grassroots. Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan are the elite. The dividing lines have always been there, but Palin provides the ultimate litmus test. ...

Palin injected a badly needed jolt of people power into the campaign. The maverick spirit is not gone. It's been reinforced in some key ways. McCain is still the same bipartisan guy he always was -- but Palin provides the grassroots with a reason to crawl on glass to make the phone calls and knock on doors and get out the vote. We didn't have that before. We have it now. Polls don't completely factor it in -- and the establishment tends to discount it as playing to the base. But it is the dark matter of campaigns -- that stuff that gives the campaign a good vibe that lets it put its best foot forward. 

Last night represented a triumph of grassroots politics in a campaign we thought had left it for dead. And just as with Republican icons before, the establishment will once again be proven timid and wrong.

A major contributing factor to conservative despair these last two weeks is that the fear that the Palin choice would be defined as a warped historical error. Conservative and grassroots leverage over the party would be gone, at least for the foreseeable future. Sarah was our gal, and if she messed it up, it would be a long time before the conservative narrative about the future of the GOP would be trusted again. Meanwhile, conservatives were being asked to depart from principle in supporting the bailout. It was a wrenching and sobering couple of weeks.

Just as with her brilliant RNC speech, Palin did not let us down. And once again, she becomes the hope of the ticket and a standardbearer for the young guns who include Jindal, Portman, Cantor, McCarthy, Ryan, and many more.

Palin can no longer be defined as a liability in any meaningful political or analytical sense. Her claim to leadership in the next Right stands stronger than ever.

Joe Biden's VP Debate Strategy

The Vice Presidential debate is less than two weeks away, and it will be an unconventional one for sure. There has been only one time when a women debated a man in the Vice Presidential debate, and that was Geraldine Ferraro, against George H.W. Bush. 

There is no doubt that both camps are studying the video to learn the do's and dont's of debate that involves a women. George H.W. Bush came off as condescending when debating Ferraro, and that is not because of what he said so much as how he delivered it.

Ferraro voiced displeasure in the debate, and accused Bush of patronizing her. This is because Bush's choice of words were what he would have said to a man, and not to a women. While the facts don't change just because you are debating a women, the perceptions of the audience definately do. 

Joe Biden has a tendency to come off negative and personal, and it could really work against him in the debate. I don't think Sarah Palin would bother to accuse him of patronizing her, she would most likely just fire back. This works for her, by showing she can keep her cool and still make her point, she makes herself look like the more collected candidate.

It is for this reason Biden has a disadvantage from the start. He will be on the defensive, being very careful to not come off as sexist, and will have to walk on eggshells when talking to her. This is not ideal for Biden, but it is a lot better than the alternative, which is looking a shovenist.

Regardless, there will be plenty of fireworks, and Biden is a very good debater. Most likely, no one will emerge a clear victor in this debate. Biden would be well advised to hold his tongue in regards to personal attacks, and stick very close to the issues.

Palin will come out swinging, and does have the potential to really shake Biden up, but his years of experience will most likely serve to keep the debate very close. All he has to do is avoid a gaffe, and he should come out with no damage. 

Palin may also be able to escape with no damage. If she can even hold her own against someone with so much experience doing debates, then that in itself should help the debate not appear one sided. The bottom line is both candidates should come out unscathed, making this a safe debate for both campaigns.

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