Vice Presidential Debate
St. Louis Athletic Complex
Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Thursday, October 2, 2008

: All topics.

: Gwen Ifill.

: Ninety-second answers for each candidate, followed by two-minute discussion.  Two-minute closing statements.

Overview: Much attention in the lead up to this debate focused on Gov. Palin.  Commentators had blistered her for weak performances in recent interviews with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, and even some conservatives raised questions about Palin's qualifications for the office and called on her to withdraw from the ticket.  In short, expectations were low.  Meanwhile, major concerns for Sen. Biden were that he might appear patronizing or condescending or be long-winded.  Neither candidate made any major blunders.

Audience: 69.9 million viewers (47.8 million households).
Source: Nielsen, based on
live coverage on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telefutura, Telemundo, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, and MSNBC.


Pre-Debate Stage Setters/Rapid Response/Post-Debate Spin

“Joe Biden won a clear victory tonight because he made a passionate case for change from the disastrous economic and foreign policies of the last eight years, and Sarah Palin defended them. While Governor Palin blindly supports John McCain’s plan for more of the same policies that have devastated Main Street and let Wall Street run wild, Joe Biden spoke clearly and strongly about Barack Obama’s plan for a tax cut for the middle class, health care that is affordable, and an end to the war in Iraq. Tonight, the American people saw why Barack Obama chose Joe Biden, a statesman from Scranton who clearly has the experience and knowledge to be a great Vice President.”

Obama-Biden campaign manager David Plouffe
"Tonight, Governor Palin proved beyond any doubt that she is ready to lead as Vice President of the United States. She won this debate, putting Joe Biden on defense on energy, foreign policy, taxes and the definition of change. Governor Palin laid bare Barack Obama's record of voting to raise taxes, opposing the surge in Iraq, and proposing to meet unconditionally with the leaders of state sponsors of terror. The differences between the Obama-Biden ticket and the McCain-Palin ticket could not have been clearer. The American people saw stark contrasts in style and worldview. They saw Joe Biden, a Washington insider and a 36-year Senator, and Governor Palin, a Washington outsider and a maverick reformer. Governor Palin was direct, forceful and a breath of fresh air."

McCain-Palin 2008 Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker 

On the Front Page
New York Times: "Candid but Pointed, Palin and Biden Face Off: Clashing on Iraq, Energy and the Economy" by Patrick Healy.
and..."Surviving One Test" (Analysis) by Adam Nagourney.
Medium shot of Palin and Biden and some of Palin's family after the debate.
James Estrin/The New York Times.

Washington Post: "Courting Middle-Class Voters: Palin and Biden State Cases for Changing Washington, Repairing Economy" by Robert Barnes and Juliet Eilperin.
and..."Palin Delivers, but Doubt Not Erased" (Analysis) by Dan Balz.
Medium shot of Biden and Palin talking after the debate, Palin's daughter Piper in the middle.
Ron Edmonds-Associated Press.

Wall Street Journal: "Biden, Palin Clash on Taxes, Iraq in Sharp-Edged Debate" by Laura Meckler and Christopher Cooper. Two photos - medium close ups of Biden and of Palin gesturing during the debate.
Associated Press (2).

USA Today: "Biden, Palin make their cases in spirited debate: Sharp differences on economy, Iraq as both hold their own" by Martha T. Moore and David Jackson. Medium close up of Biden and Palin before the debate.
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images.

Washington Times: "Biden, Palin battle over Iraq plans: Defend running mates' positions" by Joseph Curl and Christina Bellantoni.
and... "Alaskan delivers folksy message" (Analysis) by Stephen Dinan.
Medium shot of Biden and Palin greeting each other before the debate.
Associated Press.

fundraising e-mails tied in to the debate
Obama for America, 2
McCain-Palin Victory 2008

interest groups
The White House Project
Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
Richard Viguerie/ConservativeHQ

CBS News
Psychic Source

and this
Open Debates

Sponsors : Emerson, AT&T and Wachovia Securities.

Copyright © 2008  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action