Palin versus Biden – Where were the gaffes?

The gaffes didn’t materialize in tonight’s VP debate. Most commentary had Palin winning the debate but Biden and Palin both did well without major problems.
Palin had the most to lose and probably on that basis could be perceived the winner.
Drudge has a poll with over 100,000 votes at this point with Palin over Biden about 75-25.
In a conference call after the debate, Senator Rick Santorum of PA said Palin really connected with voters in ways that she has not since the Republican convention. Santorum said her personal story will connect with social and religious conservatives.
UPDATE: Ace of Spades has a list of 14 errors he asserts were made by Biden in the debate.
Here is the video where Obama said he would meet with Ahmadinejad without precondition.

41 thoughts on “Palin versus Biden – Where were the gaffes?”

  1. Perhaps to the uninformed, that’s how it appeared. I don’t know if that was deliberate, or a sin of omission. But I’m 99.9% certain that’s not what she believes.

  2. The religious right would be appalled ‘ to think she supported Civil Unions that were completely equal in marriage in all ways except the name.’

    I agree. And that’s why I found it surprising that when asked by Biden if that’s what she supported, she didn’t refute it – she just went back to the scripted talking points. She made it appear she supports Civil Unions that are fully equal to marriage in everything except the name.

  3. Nick: Being exactly the same and being treated exactly the same are two different things.
    Fair enough, but to do so can only mean that you believe the differences are inconsequential.
    The religious right would be appalled ‘ to think she supported Civil Unions that were completely equal in marriage in all ways except the name.’

  4. Well, while I was pleasantly surprised by Palin’s knowledge, y’all saw what you wanted to see. Did she make some mistakes? Yes. I would have been extremely leery if she hadn’t after only 5 weeks on the trail.
    I always try to be objective. If Biden had done a good job, I would say so. He had some good moments mixed in with provable lies. He was totally flustered, and it showed.

  5. What Nick said….. and….
    And you saw an example of Palin thinking on her feet when she spoke to Couric. The last time with Couric, Palin, with McCain on her side reeled off an answer that was rather obviously drummed into her. Then McCain took over and jabbed back at Couric to protect his golden calf/cow.
    That answer to Couric set the tone for how Palin would handle the debate. She even announced it when she said she would talk to the American people and not necessarily to the actual question asked of her. What Palin then proceeded to do was speak from the McCain talking points that were drubbed into her. When she “winged it,” Palin made mistakes and misspoke the policy McCain has espoused. Palin barely looked at Biden while he was talking (if you managed to catch it, they didn’t split screen it) I have read that apparently Palin was looking down at the lectern, possibly to read note cards to jog her memory.
    There wasn’t much spontaneous about Palin’s performance, it was scripted.

  6. Pft! Horse hockey. You don’t think that governors have to think on their feet? Mayors? MOMS?

    It’s not a question of whether or not she has the ability to think on her feet. It’s a question of whether or not she has the requisite background knowledge related to the issues to enable her to think on her feet and make appropriate decisions. She has yet to demonstrate that she has the requisite basic knowledge of American government, history, national politics, law, or Constitution.

  7. What can we learn from last night’s VP debate?
    Well, we learned that in a crisis, Palin can meet expectations, provided she knows about that crisis weeks in advance, and sequesters herself for days on end with a team of experts in that particular type of crisis, and provided she has previously lowered expectations to such a degree that anything short of outright disaster is seen as a “win.”

  8. Nick, in a campaign debate, your job is not to answer the question — but to get from the question to your “core message” as quickly as possible. It is a campagn, after all, not an interrogation.

    Marty, I don’t disagree with you on the debate strategy. I made the comment because, after her wretched interview performances, I was waiting to see if she had the intellect to meaningfully and coherently answer questions for which the answers had not been scripted. Biden demonstrated the ability yesterday. Palin did not. I still am not convinced she has the intellectual ability to substantively formulate and present answers on her own doing. I’m not saying she’s stupid, I’m saying she’s too ignorant on the subjects for a national leadership position.

    And you’re exactly right — the religious right would be appalled at anyone who claimed that homosexual relationships were “exactly like” heterosexual relationships. Obviously they are not.

    That’s not what I said. The issue was not whether or not homosexual relationships were exactly like heterosexual ones, the issue was whether or not she thought same-sex relationships should be treated exactly like opposite-sex relationships. Being exactly the same and being treated exactly the same are two different things. In the debate Palin caused Biden to think she supported Civil Unions that were completely equal in marriage in all ways except the name. He asked her if this was the case. She just changed the subject. This raises an interesting question – does she support Civil Unions for gays that are completely equal to marriages in every way except the name. She certainly did not deny that.

  9. It was the aire of superiority in her voice.
    Lynn David,
    Oh, ok – thanks – I understand. It was your perception as to how she sounded rather than what she actually said. I’m very glad she feels as strongly about Israel as she does.

  10. Scott,
    Thanks, I’d be more interested in what a political communication analyst would have to say on this debate.

  11. Kate,
    All polls are crap in the sense that only the election results on Nov 4th matter for determining the next president. However, polls can be reliable sources of information about where things stand at any particular moment in time, especially in the aggregate. Some polls are crappier than others, but if they weren’t reliable sources of information overall, we wouldn’t see the respective presidential campaigns making major decisions based on them, such as McCain’s recent withdrawal from Michigan. Dismissing polls out of hand strikes me as cheap rhetoric.

  12. Ann commented:

    Perhaps the worst from Gov. Palin was what she said concerning Biden’s statements in favor of Israel, “I am encouraged to know we both love Israel”.

    Lynn David, What did you find wrong with this statement? A lot built up to that statement. It was as Palin being condescending towards Biden, something republicans are oft to be towards democrats especially towards the patriotism of democrats. Or as if she either didn’t know or thought a democrat could have such an opinion about Israel.
    It was the aire of superiority in her voice.

  13. Scott,
    You’re not going to find much if you follow your own link. If you don’t agree with my arguments, you can address them or dismiss them. I don’t support any candidate, but if I say something that could put one candidate in a favourable light compared to her opponent, you respond with irony. I guess, that shows my bias.

  14. Legolas,
    I can’t guess what each party expected from this confrontation in voting terms, since I don’t live in your country. My remarks were directed at her performance from a technical point of view, based on what anyone can see on tv. If you weigh her performance based on the expectation to attract a particular segment you need some data to make a judgement how good or bad she did.
    Judging by the expectations that journalists expressed before the debate, it seems that people were more interested in whether she can tackle Biden or who’s going to make the first mistake, not whether she can pull some undecided votes. The risk was that she would be caught on the wrong foot and blow her credibility as a running mate. If you really want to see her having failed in this debate you can judge her by the ultimate goal, even if this wasn’t the last debate before the elections.
    But let’s turn the tables a bit and see who could have expected more from this event. I expected Biden to granulate her, but I didn’t see that. Some Democrats are probably biting their nails for not having Hillary Clinton on the ticket right now. Why exactly did Obama choose Biden if he can’t dismiss a greenhorn in national politics? If having your lines well rehearsed before a debate can make you pass for a credible candidate, then people might ask themselves how does experience prove itself in a debate? Why do we need experienced crooks, if we can have new blood quickly adjusting to the situation?
    It’s a question I am asking myself too, because this is a new style of doing politics, in which image and values lip-synching are no longer enough. She was presented as a genuine newcomer to the national stage, and you can actually see her genuinly struggling to fill in the role of a classical candidate, while on the other hand we find out some goold ole’ politics facts about her. We’ll see if this strategy pays off in the polls.

  15. The only poll that counts is the one on Nov 4. And hopefully, people will vote with their brains, use some common sense.

    Amen! I would just also like to add that I hope “critical thinking” kicks in as well.

  16. Evan,
    Let me try that link again. Here.
    I link not to agree (or disagree) with your remarks. It’s a “here’s how a film critic looked at it”.

  17. Evan,
    I’m not convinced that Palin needs to persuade the conservative base to vote for her, and if that’s why you define her performance in the debate as a success, I think she may have won a battle that has no significance in the larger war. My interpretation of the polls is that adding Palin to the ticket in and of itself shored up McCain’s conservative support. Although some conservative pundits have voiced concerns about both McCain and Palin in recent weeks, I think that overall base support has held up even in the face of Palin’s media gaffes, but someone could prove me wrong with some polling figures that show otherwise.
    Point being, IMO this isn’t likely to be a base election. The task of both McCain and Palin is to swing moderate undecideds into their column. Palin was clearly trying to compete for those in this debate with her multitude of references to hockey/soccer moms, teachers, “middle class” and “main street,” as well as working class colloquialisms. And if the flash poll results hold up in the long-term, her attempts fell flat.

  18. Honestly? I think all the polls are crap. Fortunately, some people just don’t put much stock in ’em. The only poll that counts is the one on Nov 4. And hopefully, people will vote with their brains, use some common sense.

  19. Kate,
    I guess we’ll see whether the Drudge poll or CBS poll has more credibility in the coming week as other polling results come in. So far, CNN’s flash poll pretty much matches CBS. If you know of any scientific polls that contradict their results, I’d love to hear about them.

  20. Well she didn’t run from the stage screaming or drooling, as one might have expected from the Katie Couric interview. In that sense this is a definite win for the McCain ticket.
    But for those listening to the content it was quite another story. I loved this take from the libertarians over at Reason magazine:

    Checking other blogs, I’m seeing a lot of praise for Palin and complaints about Biden’s “washingtonese.” I don’t hear it. I find Palin impossible to follow through her magic garden of run-on sentences. Biden is extremely listenable and blunt.


  21. in a campaign debate, your job is not to answer the question — but to get from the question to your “core message” as quickly as possible. It is a campagn, after all, not an interrogation.


  22. Legolas,
    Those were some remarks, not exactly an analysis. I said she tried to sound cool, in the modern sense, not folksy, in the friendly neighbourly sense. It’s about having a certain kind of appeal, which comes paradoxically from her being more conservative than McCain, but showing it as if it’s the new edge on issues. I won’t get much into the issues, though, because I’m not from the US. My interest comes from my former background of working in politics and administration.
    I said that she did pretty good considering her background. You’re saying that she might have put off some Reps. It depends on what your expectations were before the debate. A big part of the media grew restless over her avoidance of facing direct scrutiny from them, which coupled with her “unknown entity” factor resulted in very mixed reactions, from ridicule to awe. Now she faced a political veteran in a national-level debate and she emerged OK. Your concern is that she may have failed to attract some undecided folks, that she wasn’t good enough. But, correct me if I’m wrong, McCain has some problems with conservative grassroots. And she is the living proof that being conservative doesn’t necessarily entail being fossilized and passé. There’s nothing to be ashamed of being conservative in this new mindset, when the pressure coming from the opponent camp is built around the message of change brought by the cool, upbeat and charismatic leader Obama (or you could call him simply unexperienced). That has more potential than simply playing what people want to hear. You have to take into account what the alternative is too and think further than one debate. They’re going to change the weapons, now use Palin, then McCain, according to context and potential to grab some new votes. No one says it’s a one-time shot and you get the results. She had a good performance and that’s all. Biden had the opportunity to outsmart her and crush her with his experience.

  23. Nick, in a campaign debate, your job is not to answer the question — but to get from the question to your “core message” as quickly as possible. It is a campagn, after all, not an interrogation.
    And you’re exactly right — the religious right would be appalled at anyone who claimed that homosexual relationships were “exactly like” heterosexual relationships. Obviously they are not.

  24. You quote the Drudge Poll? A poll based on people going to an extremely partisan website and clicking what they thought? You know full well that the people who go to that website have a strong predisposed bias and aren’t even close to being a representative cross-section of America! If you were trying to be objective, then your standards have sunk to a new low.
    What I found most fascinating in the debate was that Biden said gay relationships should be treated exactly like straight relationships in terms of benefits, privileges, etc. He said that Palin’s response seemed to agree with him, and then asked her to state if that was so. She, of course, ignored the question (just like she did all night), I assume because the answer wasn’t already scripted for her. I’m still waiting for her to demonstrate she can respond to questions in coherent sentences when the answers aren’t previously scripted.
    So, does she or does she not think that gay relationships should be treated exactly like straight ones? I’m sure the religious right would disown her quickly if she did.

  25. What I really thought was fascinating was that the undecided voters on CNN gave Palin’s ratings a bit of a nosedive every time she mentioned the word “maverick.”
    Warren, Kate, & Stix,
    Factcheck shows how both of the candidates repeatedly stretched the truth. By speaking as if it were only Biden, you lose credibility.
    No, all polls are not created equal. The Drudge poll is whoever shows up and votes, and Drudge isn’t exactly a neutral site. The CBS poll was a nationally representative sample of undecideds. Hardly comparable.
    Whether Biden was on the defensive “the whole debate” doesn’t seem clear to me, but I think if Palin had an advantage of being more on the attack it was somewhat squandered by her obvious tendency to veer erratically away from the debate topic at hand or even avoid it altogether.
    I think your analysis misses what I point out just above. Yes, she was well prepared to spout off talking points, but it was clear to most viewers that’s what she was doing. I also am not convinced Palin’s “folksy” attitude really had the desired effect – it seems to have turned off some undecided moderate Republicans in the focus groups, and I think also it came off as a fake folksiness. Not in the sense that she was faking being folksy, but in the sense that the type of folksiness she displayed was often one like that people might take on to deal with crazy relatives or difficult neighbors. That might have worked if people thought Biden was crazy or difficult, but he never came off that way during the debate.

  26. I watched the debate and I have to say it was not what I expected. Palin was very well prepared, she rehearsed a lot before this performance – I can say that because I’ve worked with high-ranking politicians for this kind of debates and, considering her background, she did all the steps right, even if a bit mechanical because of her terrible stage fright.
    I won’t focus on the issues because I can afford to, not because they are not important, and because the technical performance is more interesting to me. Issues come and go, contexts are redefined, events change, but it’s the now and here of performance that impresses people’s judgement (this applies less to very rational and calculated people or intellectuals). And on this account, Palin struck more emotional chords by the way she was struggling to check all her prepared points and ‘Can I call you Joe’s, compared to Biden who appeared feelingless, showing the dry side of political experience, that of looking like a political jukebox. This is very important, because people perceive this kind of composure as being less honest and more characteristic of unctuous career politicians. People want to see someone who can identify with the problems they are going through, but they also want to see someone who can handle them, which can be a bit contradictory. Palin appeared to wobble between these poles: that of looking like she connects with people’s issues and that she has a command on the issues.
    I thought about how would Sarah Palin have fared against Hillary Clinton (if she were still nominated in this case). I think her lack of experience on a national level would have looked exactly how it is, but less likable. Hillary has the talent to bring that out of her opponents. And she is a woman too, which sets the psychological compass back in the middle.
    One thing among the many Palin rehearsed before this debate was the colloquial talk, which was a good idea to use because it gives her comparative advantage over Biden. They couldn’t try to make Biden sound cool without looking folsky. But Palin is young and whether you’ve already cast your vote with either side or not, you’re going to either have fun by making fun of her or continue to like liking her. Which is exactly what the McCain team wanted to get from the electoral and media audience – someone no one could ignore. And even if the media know they are being used to extend the shelf life of candidates without political substance, they can’t help doing it because people are interested in consuming the public presence of a person who has the potential to “make event.” She has the cloth, as we used to say about this type of candidates whom you can throw in new waters and they can do more than survive. But I still don’t think she can act as the president of any big developed country.

  27. Perhaps the worst from Gov. Palin was what she said concerning Biden’s statements in favor of Israel, “I am encouraged to know we both love Israel”.

    Lynn David,
    What did you find wrong with this statement?

  28. This was one of my favorite parts. Just an infernal mix of folksiness and diabolical wrongheadedness:
    “Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future.”
    Wonderful! Let’s just forget the mistakes of the past eight years. Why would anyone want to reflect on the recent past, when we can just forget and repeat them all over again? Forever looking forward, onward and upward, never backward!

  29. whoops i initially posted this on the wrong thread. From Aceofspades’ list of Biden “lies”:
    8. OIL TAXES: Biden falsely said Palin supported a windfall profits tax in Alaska — she reformed the state tax and revenue system, it’s not a windfall profits tax.
    And here’s what a quick google search turns up:
    Windfall tax lets Alaska rake in billions from Big Oil
    Palin backed Alaskan windfall-profits tax

  30. It was fun to see Biden’s face, he was clearly flustered and made many mistakes. he lied about McCain and Obama’s record.
    And if anyone thought that Biden won, they need some serious help. He was on the defensive the whole debate. Palin may not of won big, but she did win.
    And to believe in a CBS poll is tha same as looking at Drudge’s poll. Any of them can be taken over by partisans.

  31. Perhaps the worst from Gov. Palin was what she said concerning Biden’s statements in favor of Israel, “I am encouraged to know we both love Israel”. It was about then that I thought my 94 year old mother would nearly gag. She had me turn it off and play a tape of NBC’s Heroes.

  32. Kate – I think you are more right than I am. His defense of Obama’s approach to the war required him to stretch Obama’s record and votes.
    Biden criticized Obama on a variety of issues during the primary but ran from that during this debate.

  33. Don’t you mean former Senator Santorum? I thought he got voted out. Or did he get a state senator’s job?
    Well, the gaffes were she lied about her opponents’ records. She lied when she said Obama had not admitted that the surge worked. When in a September interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, Obama said “the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated. . . I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”
    Then there was the lie when Palin said Barack Obama wants a “universal, government-run program” and “health care being taken over by the feds.” The fact is, which I have even seen on political adverts today, that Obama’s health-care plan does not call for a government takeover. In fact, it isn’t even universal. It would only cover all children. Obama’s plan would give Americans the opportunity to have government health insurance, but they also could pick a private plan. Otherwise employers are still charged with providing health care to the employee.
    Then there were Palin’s meaningless platitudes: “Change is coming.” “We’re going to learn from the mistakes of this and other administrations.” And she acknowledges that there have been “huge blunders throughout this [the Bush] administration as there have in every administration.”
    And you quote a Drudge poll… please, quote a poll that has some meat to it, not the republicanese fat. Plenty of other polls have already been quoted, perhaps the most meaningful among undecided voters. There Biden garnered votes at a rate of 2-1, but it also showed that as many as 70% of undecideds are still in that column. I guess they aren’t in Michigan where McCain really has suspended his campaign.

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