Monday, September 29, 2008

Palin Preps for VP debate

Sarah Palin's first and only VP debate performance with Joe Biden is set for Thursday. McCain's handlers must be working themselves into a frenzy prepping Palin so she doesn't fall as flat on her face as she did with Katie Couric during last week's interview. Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, who advised Cheney during the 2000 and 2004 debates, cautions Palin against playing attack dog. Stevens said:

"She would not be well served going after snarky debating points. Voters know she can tweak Obama with her gleeful combativeness. That kind of thing plays better to Republican audiences than to a national one. She shouldn't be delivering lines to the faithful."

The problem for Palin is the only slightly marginal competence she's displayed so far has been as attack dog. She spent her entire acceptance speech at the convention every campaign stop since insulting her opponents and offering no ideas or insights of her own. When left to her own devices on policy issues, she sounds like a clueless half-wit as she did with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson.

Republican strategist Stevens went on to say:

"In a vice presidential debate, you define the job and then try to convince people that you fit the definition...Her goal should be to not make news. And that means when Biden attacks, or the moderator's questions are detailed, she should not respond at length. Instead, she should focus on her personality. She should want that lead to be: Palin came across as a likable, caring person who believes what she says."

True, she definitely shouldn't respond at length because beyond the first two or three words she gets into dangerous territory. And it's hard to come across as likeable when all you do is denigrate your opponent.

Radio talk show host Ed Schultz reports that Capitol Hill sources have told him that the McCain camp is more than a little concerned about Palin's ability to debate. They describe mock debates as "disastrous."

Thursday's debate should be quite a treat. Unless the McCain camp cooks up some ridiculous excuse why it can't happen -- maybe Palin will need to fly home and monitor the air space over Alaska just in case Putin is flying over head.


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