Let’s start with this reality. The Sarah Palin critics were hoping she would blow it. They were looking for the “deer in the headlights” look. They were hoping for a national embarrassment. Indeed, the bar was low for Palin going into this vice-presidential debate in St. Louis but she didn’t just walk over that bar. She hurdled over it in Olympic fashion.
Combining a happy warrior spirit with a home-spun style and some substance thrown in to boot, Palin proved that she belonged on that stage with Joe Biden tonight. She wasn’t going to rival his experience, facts or knowledge but she showed herself to be a smart and effective communicator who clearly knows how to rise to a challenge. Oh, and by the way, she morphed into "Sarah Barracuda" tonight by using Biden's past statements on Obama against him. She had it all working tonight,
Look, conservatives can put away the Pepto-Bismol tablets. It had been a rough few weeks with some of these interviews she was giving to Katie Couric. There was unease by many going in to this debate, but Sarah Barracuda showed up tonight and she laid to rest any doubts by conservatives that she’s not ready for prime time.
With all due respect to Joe Biden, all eyes during this debate were on Palin. Biden performed very well. No gaffes, disciplined and definitely on message. He was a McCain attack machine. He was especially impressive when asked what he would do differently in a Biden administration if he unexpectedly became President. The tendency by Biden may have been to talk about what HE would do, but he didn’t. He instead talked about how he would implement Obama’s agenda for the country and then began to list it. That answer shows Biden is a true professional. He helped Obama’s case tonight and if you’re Barack Obama, you really can’t ask for a better guy to go to bat for you.
As for Palin, she seemed to hit her stride tonight. She offered more substance on issues like healthcare, energy policy, taxes and even Darfur by explaining how her role as Governor played a part. Look, Biden outnumbered her on facts and figures but folks at home knew going in that Biden was going to be better in that area because of his experience. Palin had to come across as competent and knowledgeable enough to where people can achieve a comfort level with her. I think she did that for the most part.
A couple interesting points to make. I thought it was interesting how Palin was able to talk about Saturday morning soccer games and meld it into the economy right off the bat. Let’s be real here. Lots of people tune into a debate and are done with 30 minutes. Their impression is formed. So I would think Palin’s soccer talk early on was done on purpose.
Also, one of the reasons conservatives liked her from the beginning is she has an optimistic, happy demeanor and she communicates like a regular person. Ronald Reagan had that same touch. He was a President that you could understand. Palin seems to have that same quality of being able to talk normal, not political talk.
In the end, Sarah Palin’s performance Thursday should be a boost to McCain’s campaign and no matter how McCain’s fortunes turn out in November, Palin sent a signal tonight that she’s probably going to be on the national political stage for quite some time.