Thursday, October 02, 2008

Live Blogging the Vice Presidential Debate

8:29 PM: I am here at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where students are gathering in "the clock" to watch a big screen version of the Veep Debate together. I'll be blogging LIVE as the debate goes on, giving you insightful commentary and snarky comments you know you're dying to read! On an editorial note, we're on CNN over here where the pundits are discussing the polls. NEWS FLASH, friends of the baum: John McCain pulled out of Michigan today. Scary new poll numbers are making McSame hunker down in FL and OH where he must win if he wants to win this election. This is a big night... expectations for Palin are low. Will she deliver? And more importantly, where's the free food? Answers to these questions and more as the night continues...

8:50 PM: A nice crowd gathering here at the clock. Pizza and beer has been distributed and we are now taking our positions in front of the big screen getting ready for the show. Wolf Blitzer showing us the watch parties all over the country. Why no camera here?!

9:03 Here we go! First question predictably about the bailout. Biden the gentleman; Sarah blowing kisses to Gwen! Biden is smart to start drawing sharp distinctions between BO and McSame.

9:05: wooo! Palin opens her mouth and the positive feelings plummit. Palin trying to paint McCain with the "reform" and "oversight" brush. "Suspend his campaign" gets me my first mark on my Palin Bingo Board!

9:07: McCain is "out of touch." Palin trots out the same old talking points to try and deflect the damage from the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" line. Now she's working to make McCain look like the bipartisan one. "New" and "different" is McCain? Hard to swallow.

9:09: Who is at fault? Palin says "Darn right" it was those predatory lenders with their greed and deception! Joe Six Pack sends feelings WAAAAYYY down. Everybody likes oversight! Personal responsibility getting high marks from Pain.
Biden: Smart to keep drawing distinctions between Obama, who had foresight about the coming economic crisis, and McCain the deregulator. Focus on the middle class is a smart move.

9:13: tax relief... obama raises taxes... palin taking some good swipes here. 94 times obama voted to raise taxes. How will Biden respond?
Biden: this is untrue and McCain voted the same way! Also, McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes. Smart to raise the issue of deregulation- remember when Palin told Katie Couric she would "get back to her" on McCain's record on deregulation? Guess we're going to have to wait a little longer for an answer to this one that isn't a bunch of bullshit.

9:18 Here come those glittering generalities we were told to expect from Palin.

9:20 The "ultimate bridge to nowhere" line gets a BIG response from the people in this room. Some "OH!"s from my audience.

9:23 Palin trotting out once again this idea that Obama voted for tax breaks for oil companies. Meanwhile, she says that she took on the oil companies. She says she gave value from the oil companies to the people of Alaska. Translation: She taxed the oil companies big time to give money to her constituents.
Whoops! She's been at this for five weeks? People here are NOT impressed by that answer.

9:26 Aha! See this is exactly what I was talking about and Biden picked up on it. Palin supported the kind of windfall profits that McCain refuses to support! Well done Joe, good point.

9:29: Biden talks about bankruptcy and the need to allow bankruptcy courts to change the rates on these toxic mortgages and reduce their principles - Palin says he is mischaracterizing her position, but then switches straight to energy. Again with the glittering generalities on energy independence, but what does that mean in terms of policy?

9:30 CLIMATE CHANGE!!! Pain seems to be saying that climate change is real, though it is also cyclical. She doesn't want to argue about the causes but how to effect the impacts. She's stumbling over her words here. We know she has been against protecting polar bears and has said climate change is BS in the past... how will Biden hit back?
Biden: the fundamental difference: if you don't understand the cause, you can't come up with a solution! Excellent.
Again, he hits McCain on his record of OPPOSING renewable energy (what was he thinking?) Instead of being importers of energy, let's be exporters. Drill drill drill isn't going to be the solution!

9:34: Here's a new one: "Senator O'Biden!"

9:36 Same sex benefits - Biden taking a really strong pro-gay line here, and taking a principled Constitutional stand. Yeah Biden!
Palin: nope, no rights for the gays. sorry. don't want to get on that slippery slope to gay marriage. And hey, some of my best friends are gay! So that's my I don't support gay marriage...
and neither does Biden. What he and Obama are going to do is fight for equal civil rights for gay couples.

9:39 Here comes Iraq. Instead of talking about what is going to happen in the future, Pain harps on the surge "which has worked." A non-answer.
Biden: hits her good - she didn't offer a plan. Biden actually answers the question by discussing the plan to go forward, and feelings go flying way up on the people meter. His details on how we are going to disengage from Iraq is hitting the 100 mark. Fundamental difference: "we will end this war." Palin: "UM..."
Who's Talibani? It's TALABANI, Not TALIBANI.

9:46: I think Biden is really hitting his stride here. First he made it clear that the claims that Obama voted against funding troops is a bunch of trash, and that John McCain has voted against specific proposals to fund equipment for our troops. He is giving cogent, specific answers about foreign policy; some real straight talk that is registering with the swing voters watching this debate.

9:48: People know that Obama has NEVER said he would personally meet with the Iranian president without preconditions. That is just a blatant lie.
They "hayyte A-me-ri-ca!" gets more giggles from the crowd.
BIDEN: Once again sets the facts straight: Obama never said he would sit down without preconditions. Thanks for setting the record straight, Joe.
Nice! Bringing back McSame's CRAZY talk about Spain. I'll put up a link to an article about that later. OK, here it is. Here's a video too.

9:53: Here we go about Israel. Obama was the best friend of Israel in the Senate. Obama was prescient about the Hamas takeover. Obama tried to neutralize Hezbollah in Lebanon when this administration failed to stop it. This administration has done more to strengthen Iran than anything in the last several decades. It's a history of abject failure.
Palin: We both love Israel! And hey, we're gonna make change too! hey I'm about change! change! country first! bipartisanship! the volcano of slogans erupts!
Biden makes the rhetorically strong point that the reason Obama/Biden keep pointing back to Bush is because McCain offers no change.

Let's just take a moment out of time here to note: I think Biden is wiping the floor with Palin. She's offering slogans and talking points. She is not coming off as very competent. Biden looks strong, measured and intelligent.

9:57: Bring the surge to afghanistan! surge surge surge!
Biden keeps having these great opening lines, like this one: FACTS MATTER GWEN.
Our commanding general just said the surge won't work in Afghanistan. Take that, Palin!
3 weeks in Iraq = 6 and a half years in Afghanistan. YIKES
McCain Voted AGAINST the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Barack Obama worked immediately with Republicans to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists.
Ooh notice that as Biden quotes McCain on "success" in Afghanistan, there's a big GULP from Palin (10:01). She's swallowing her pride on this one.

10:02 Nice, this Bosnia questions allows Biden to continue to illustrate his foreign policy chops and how he has differed from John McCain on his judgment - Biden was for fighting in Bosnia, McCain was against it, and today we have democracy flourishing in the Balkans in a way we could never have imagined a decade ago.
YES! Biden taking on Sudan; thank you Joe Biden for brining up this terrible genocide, an issue which does not get any coverage in the press today. UPDATE: Nicholas Kristof has some choice words about Biden's strong show of leadership tonight on the Sudan issue.

10:06: here's a new strategy I like - tie John McCain to Dick Cheney on Iraq (a man with an 18% approval rating).
Palin: Addressing the pundits; is she trying to frame the media narrative? You better BELIEVE IT.

HERE IT COMES! The big experience question.
Biden: if I were president, I would keep fighting for the middle class. Good - keep it focused on your candidate's message; energy policy that creates jobs, a foreign policy that ends the war in Iraq and takes the fight to Al Qaeda while working with our allies, and reject the Bush Doctrine (that Sarah Palin doesn't even know about). Biden getting HIGH marks from swing voters as he really hits his stride here.
Palin: "Heaven forbid!" We're a team of Mavericks! winks and nods. Did she highlight her hair?

10:10 Biden is again bringing it back to the Bush/McSame issue. He is doing a great job, I think, of connecting with people in the Middle Class.
10:11 Did she just use "there you go again?!" How Reaganlike.
Her reward is in heaven? Maybe her reward should be HERE ON EARTH IF WE HAD AN EDUCATION POLICY THAT ACTUALLY VALUED OUR TEACHERS!!! Well, she scored some high points for her glittering generalities on "ramping up" education.
OK we got it - she's gonna be the energy/reform/special needs vice president.

10:14 Biden will be getting things done in the Senate, taking legislative initiatives and will sit in the room with Obama to give advice and has independent judgment, playing a constructive role to bring the change this country needs.

10:15 Are you Cheney? Palin: Yes.
Biden: the idea that the Veep is part of the legislative branch is CRA-ZY! and dangerous.

10:18 Palin's Inexperience versus Biden's lack of discipline...
Palin does not answer this question at all. She tried to spin it over to her family and Reagan. Shining platitudes here sound OK here.
Biden: Rattles off his extensive legislative history. And hey, my wife and child DIED. I came from a working class family. I know what it is like to raise two kids alone. Biden chokes up here... wow, he seems very human and real. That was a beautiful, beautiful moment from Biden (10:20). Pain sounds shrill and annoying after that passionate statement from Biden, and the word Maverick sounds tinny and false.
WOAH! Freudian slip? "McCain is the man we need to leave... (I mean) LEAD! LEAD! I meant lead I swear!!!"
Ah, this is gorgeous how Biden seems to anticipate everything I point out. Yes, McCain is NO MAVERICK and here's why. On children's health care, on education, the war, he has not been a maverick on the things that really effect people around the kitchen table. MAVERICK HE IS NOT ON THE IMPORTANT CRITICAL ISSUES.

10:24 the final question - have you ever changed your view?
Biden: the ideology of the judge is very important on the supreme court, not just if they were a good student. it was an intellectual change (smart - he is reaching out to the liberal base in a smooth way).
Palin: I should have vetoed more. It seems she is really working on this bipartisanship thing, but it doesn't seem to really be selling.

10:26: Trying to make this about making jobs versus killing jobs. "Clear choices on November 4th." Probably a good line for her to pursue even if it is not true.

10:29: The media "tells people what they've just heard." Really? REALLY? Because, if I recall, I've been watching you, Ms. Palin, speaking with your own words, and they've been embarrassing on the face of them.
John McCain is the only person in this race "that has fought for you"? that is such bullshit.
Biden: the last 8 years were a disaster and we need a fundamental change.

My opinion? Biden hit it out of the park. Palin parroted talking points and tried to look cute, but at the end of the day, he was the one that looked ready to lead, and Barack Obama's campaign emerged looking stronger, more principled, more in line with the working people and middle class of this country, and more like the winning team.

11:24 PM: The polls are in and Biden has taken the day.

(Uncommitted Voters who watched the debate)

46% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Joe Biden was the winner. 21% thought Sarah Palin won, 33% thought it was a draw… 98% after the debate saw [Biden] as knowledgeable (79% before the debate).

CNN's poll just came in, of all debate watchers, MoE 4%.

Who did the best job in the debate?

Biden 51
Palin 36

Did Biden do better or worse than you expected?

Better 64
Worse 14
Same 20

Did Palin do better or worse than you expected?

Better 84
Worse 7
Same 8

Is Palin qualified to serve as president?

Before debate: 42
After debate: 46

Before debate: 54
After debate: 53

They didn't need to ask that last question of Biden, and few people were reassured by Palin's performance today.

11:40 I really thought the moment when Biden spoke about losing his wife and son in that terrible car accident, about his and his families own struggles and about his accomplishments in spite of all he's faced was one of real humanity, power, and perhaps was the moment when Biden won this debate outright. I am attaching it here for you to watch one more time, tell me if you don't agree.

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