September 29th, 2008
07:30 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama-Biden camp hype Palin’s debating skills

WILMINGTON, Delaware (CNN) – As Joe Biden settles into debate prep mode this week ahead of Thursday night’s debate in St. Louis, campaign aides are actively playing up Sarah Palin’s debating skills. Biden’s spokesman called Palin “a leviathan of forensics,” a classic example of the campaign tactic of raising the expectations of their opponent and lowering their own.

“She's very skilled and she'll be well-prepared,” said Barack Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod Sunday night, flying with Biden back to Delaware to help him get ready.

“As you saw at the convention she can be very good. So, I think it would be foolish to assume that this isn’t going to be a really challenging debate. We're preparing for that, on that assumption.”

Taking it one step farther, Biden spokesman David Wade later added, “He's going in here to debate a leviathan of forensics, who has debated five times and she's undefeated.”

Biden has a difficult task on his hands – not coming across as condescending with his decades of experience and not adopting a tone that could appear as though he’s treating Palin differently because she’s a woman.

“I think Governor Palin is a skilled politician,” said Axelrod. “She got elected in a very tough political arena against tough opponents and we're going to treat her with the respect that she deserves. And I think that she would expect that, I think voters should expect that.”

Axelrod argued that at the end of the day, the choice voters make is between the candidates at the top of the ticket and not the vice presidential candidates. However, he said VP nominees have a harder time preparing because they need to not only defend their own positions but those of their running mate, as well as knowing where both candidates on the opposing ticket stand.

“I will say is this,” Axelrod added, “I think that there are very few decisions that you make during the course of a presidential campaign that are presidential decisions.”

“But picking the vice presidential candidate is one and all I can say is that, you know, we're very happy with our choice.”

Asked what the choice of Palin says about McCain, Axelrod demurred. Pressed for why he refuses to criticize the pick, he responded, “I'm not reluctant to be critical. I'm just prudently sticking to my theme.”

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm flew with Biden from Michigan to Delaware Sunday to play Palin in mock debates in the coming days. In an interview on Thursday she said, “I want to beat him up a little bit, so he does well.”


Filed under: Joe Biden
soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. OhioGirl82

    There's the oft quoted old saying, "Smart people talk about ideas, average people talk about events, and stupid people talk about people."

    The nasty, childish name-calling with respect to Gov Palin seems to go hand-in-hand with the quote. In case you want to pull yourself above the fray and try to discuss a few ideas, quoting Tina Fey as Sarah Palin doesn't count.

    If you're looking for an idea to contemplate..... - why did Obama ask the Iraqi prime minister NOT to begin troop withdrawals until after the election? (as quoted by the Iraqi prime minister himself) What could be his driving motivator - doing what he truly believes is the right thing for this nation and the troops, or winning the election, even if it means going against his number one promise?

    Perhaps another idea to contemplate would be the attempt of a campaign group to use police force and intimidation to silence any opposition. Anybody want to discuss the ethics of what the Obama campaign is up to in Missouri?

    Or shall we stick with shallow name-calling?

    September 29, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. Milton, Harrisburg, PA

    A "leviathan of forensics"? Wow, how did they managed to say that straight-faced? I would have gone with something less high-brow, you know like "She is a gourmand of words" or "A lexigraphic knife that can cut through the garrulous Biden's penchant for the loquacious".

    I think we all know now that Palin was runner-up in the beauty pageant because she bombed the interview portion. Hey, that's okay. You don't need to be a master of language to become President. George Bush can't speak in coherent sentences and look what a successful president he is. Remember too that George Bush won a debate against Al Gore precisely because Al Gore looked like he was bullying someone that was mentally-handicapped.

    One used to worry that Biden's terminal case of foot-in-mouth disease would cause him difficulty in debates, but given Palin's background knowledge, I think the Biden-Palin debate will look a little like an episode of "Are you smarter than a fifth-grader".

    September 29, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  3. Bob Indianapolis IN

    "Apparently, the senator doesn't know the difference between a tactic and a campaign."

    Well, McSame, we sure do! Sarah Palin was a tactic. And your campaign is toast: Over-done and crumbly...

    September 29, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  4. ivy ohio

    palin has no knowledge of our policies did you see the video where she was getting blessed at church and witchcraft.. this is the woman mccain picked for vp if mccain drops dead this is the woman you want to run our country mccain is so out of touch his judgements are erratic
    she kills moose, avoiding troopergate, and could answer any questions from her interviews mcsame is angry

    September 29, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  5. PCS / North Carolina

    Palin is just a same kind of politician like the women PM's were in India, Sri lanka, Bangladesh, Philippines and Pakistan. They have two things in common beauty / charisma, and the ability to destroy the country and send it through an economic rollercoaster.

    September 29, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  6. PCS / North Carolina

    Palin is just a same kind of politician like the women PM's were in India, Sri lanka, Bangladesh, Philippines and Pakistan. They have two things in common beauty / charisma, and the ability to destroy the country and send it through an economic rollercoaster. mm

    September 29, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  7. demwit

    It doesn't matter how many times Biden exposes Palin's misunderstanding, naivety or down right dangerous views of the world. Because the biased media is going to excuse every blunder, misstatement and/or doofus comment she makes, what ever it takes to get their candidate elected. Oh wait....

    September 29, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  8. America will be free again

    I thought all repugs are blaiming Clintons and hate him cos he unseated their best...? Dont like him now cos he his the best president so far in the recent history. He his a great man just as much as President Obama his going to turn out. Not the arrogant, self centered, war mongering, ignorant, dumb, lying, inconsiderate and selfish mccain. Obama show supremacy over him in the debate by not totally disagreeing with him on all issues..even though he had to point out to him over and over that his politics and idoelogies are outdated. mcacain never agrees with anything anyone has to say even on talk shows...is that a leader of a tyrant? Its either mccain's way or the highway...Same he tried to pull about suspending his campaign and posponing the debate, if not that Americans refused to go his way he wouldnt have shown up at the debate.
    Its a shame that for 72 yrs mccain has not shown any experince at all in finding common grounds. As for Gov Palin i have great respect for her both as an American and as a public servant. I will love to see her showcase the intensive foreign and local policy stand she believes America deserves.
    mike Chicago

    September 29, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  9. Sherri

    I genuinely feel sorry for Sarah Palin. She is in over her head and put in that position by her own party. It seems to me they have destroyed her promising political career, by bringing her to the national scene too soon. Every interview so far has only illustrated her lack of knowledge of the issues and her inability to think on her feet.

    September 29, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  10. TJ

    "Biden has a difficult task on his hands – not coming across as condescending with his decades of experience and not adopting a tone that could appear as though he’s treating Palin differently because she’s a woman."

    Gee that's funny. McCain was condescending and downright comtemptuous towards Obama, acting as if it was totally beneath him and totally absurd to even stand there on the stage and have to engage with Obama in the first place, yet no one accused him of racism. What's with the double standard? So McCain's not racist, but if Biden treats Palin the same way, he's sexist? Sounds to me like victimology bias run amuck. I think that very notion is sexist, I thought equality was the goal here. She should be treated just like a man would, so if she's clueless and incompetent, she should be treated as such. You shouldn't accuse her opponent of sexism for not treating her with special standards. One of the most horrible by-products of the primary is these hardcore PUMA's accusing Obama of being sexist, with slights that they just make up and imagine in their heads, simply because Obama won. It's absurd to call Obama sexist, but these people could careless about reality, fairness, or equity, so they engage in this sort of baseless PR lynching. I understand being disappointed that Hillary isn't the nominee, and I could understand if you have legitimate reasons why you just can't vote for Obama, but just say so and leave it at that. This accusing people of sexism for sympathy and political/PR points really needs to stop.

    September 29, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  11. Baze

    Palin's a joke. I don't give a crap what she has to say in this debate

    ONE NATION

    September 29, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  12. Accountant Guy

    I am glad that on Thursday America will see how much of an idiot Palin is. She has given two hilarious interviews and has no idea what is going on in the world. She has been exposed to be a liar and a cheat. THANKS BUT NO THANKS ON THAT VP TO NO WHERE PALIN!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 29, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  13. greedyboy

    She may be skilled, but she just doesn't know what the heck she is talking about. There is a lot of coaching going on, and the canned answers will be flying, but she is completely clueless. I hope Putin doesn't rear his head in Alaskan air space while she is debating, whatever will the country do?

    September 29, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  14. Pat F

    Someone should ask Biden to define "Leviathan". I'd bet a sawbuck that he has no idea what the word means.

    This is the guy that said that when Franklin Roosevelt was president and the market crashed, he went on TV and explained it to the American people. OK, firstly, Roosevelt wasn't president in 1929, and secondly, unless he was standing on a prototype, there was no TV in 1929.

    This cotton-head is supposed to be heart-beat from the presidency?

    September 29, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  15. independent

    Biden, don't feel sorry for her. She accepted the nomination, she thought the VP job was to insult Obama in the convention, she'll face it now. Exterminate that mouse hunter.
    Mcbush, it's time to appoint another VP cause you'll be retracting Palin's comment from now till she goes to jail after the verdict of brother in law.

    September 29, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  16. BM

    You know, this Palin vp might surprise all of ya!
    She has been sequestered since she was selected, therefore she should be well prepared after McSame knew that she was going up against Biden.

    September 29, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
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