October 2nd, 2008
11:02 PM ET
6 years ago

Gergen: A win/win debate

Sen. Biden went head to head with Gov. Palin Thursday night.
Sen. Biden went head to head with Gov. Palin Thursday night.

(CNN)–Republican conservatives should be happy tonight: the Sarah Palin who showed up for the debate was the same spirited, authentic woman when she was announced, not the one who sat down with Katie Couric.

While she made a few small mistakes and often avoided direct answers, she deserves credit for performing as well as she did in a moment of huge pressure.

Her problem was that the Joe Biden who showed up delivered the best debate performance of his life. He was extremely well informed, especially on foreign policy, and he argued his case with force and occasional eloquence. Like Palin, he didn't make any big mistakes either - and importantly, he was never condescending toward her.

Overall, it seems to me that when the debate was over, Palin could hold her head high and will meet with large, boisterous crowds on the campaign trail again. She did herself and John McCain well among Republican partisans. But Biden was the superior debater and , I would imagine, will help to solidify the Democrats' current lead. Over the next few weeks, McCain will have to take it away from Obama himself if he is to win.

If I had to give a score, it would be Palin A minus; Biden A plus.

Will very much look forward to hearing how voters respond - they are the ones rightly in charge.

soundoff (223 Responses)
  1. jm from sc

    Palin is that same woman who sat with Katie Couric last week. If any one believe any different, I have a bridge to nowhere for sale.

    October 2, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  2. Jay

    Sarah is such fluff, she loves to avoid direct responses and uses unintelligent language – "darn", "drill baby drill". A person in this position needs to be better educated and use language more eloquently.

    Biden: A
    Palin: C+

    October 2, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  3. barbara Sonies

    I was really impressed with the clarity of Joe Biden and his ability to make the important points that are important to the nation. He was inspiring and presidential.
    Palin did not fail and probably held her own. Her folksy mainstream Mom do not make me believe she could be a credible president. she frequently did not answer the questions put to her but seemed to go to the talking points for which she was primed.
    I am for the Obama Biden ticket with even more committment.

    October 2, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  4. Mark

    AWESOME Debate.

    Sarah won it hands down in my book. She was talking to me, us, the people of America. Not just talking to the moderator like Biden was. She proved she is not just a McCain stand aside like Joe is to Obama.

    Now John McCain,,, let her loose on America, what we seen tonight is what we want to see the rest of this campaign

    The Sarah we all knew was there,,,,

    McCain / Palin,,, ,

    October 2, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  5. Kirk

    As usual, David is right on.
    Who wants an A- Vp when we can have an A+?

    October 2, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  6. Reality

    Give me a break, Palin won hands down. Sorry Joe.

    October 2, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  7. LC

    Palin – C

    Biden – A+

    Biden clearly destroyed Palin, especially in foreign policy. She obviously memorized her talking points, especially since she kept smiling no matter what the topic of discussion was. I found that very unprofessional. She didn't really answer any questions even though she sounded good saying it. I was also disturbed by the difference in the meter between men and women. What's up with that? Men seemed to just look at her and smile forgetting what the heck she was saying while women were really paying attention.

    October 2, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  8. Carmen

    Palin was pathetic, speaking in cliched generalities. Joe was intelligent and knowledgeable. It's amazing how little it takes to thrill Republicans.

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  9. MS

    Palin was too scripted and stuck too much to talking points and pre-rehearsed answers. Her attitude at dodging questions and interjecting "folksiness" can't work on a national level.

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  10. Griff

    David! The Chauvanist.... What an Idiot.....

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  11. Louis

    Sarah Palin gave 5 answers to 25 questions. Anyone who thinks she is the best and brightest for Vice-President is living in an alternate universe. We've already had 8 years of the Cowboy–god help us if Gidget goes to Washington.

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  12. Greg Picard

    I do not understand why we are so soft on Mrs.Palin.
    I think she was not able to give any depth to her answers (if there were any answers) and she kept diverging from the questions asked.
    Now, I am unhappy that reporters are not seeing it the way that I am seeing it. This was a dreadful appearance tonight by Mrs.Palin.

    I feel like she is an empty candidate.

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  13. Francois-Xavier Lochet

    If I had to give a score, it would be Palin C plus; Biden A plus.

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  14. james kishlar

    If " Joe 6 pack" meets your qualifications for Vice President, then Sarah Palin is your man!

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  15. Betty

    Palin looked like a amateur and got away without answering tough questions wrong by not answering them at all. I am a Reublican and this ticket scares me.

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  16. Tom, VA

    She's not stupid, and anyone expecting her to be a complete idiot was going to be wrong regardless tonight. BUT, she is also completely the wrong person for the job. She's in way over her head, she all but said "I have been in this for five weeks and I have no ideas", and she just kept saying the same things over and over again (and confusingly). Biden showed continuously that he's an incredibly intelligent man who has sound judgment and a strong grasp of the issues, and he knows how to work in government. Frankly, it still stuns me that this guy could only ever get 1% of the primary vote every time he's run...he'd make a great president. Obama and Biden together are the only hope we have in 2008. Sarah Palin might be engaging, but ask yourself this – do you REALLY want "Joe Six-Pack" occupying the second most powerful position in the country (or world, for that matter)?

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  17. Mike, FL

    Biden clearly won the debate.

    The only way u can claim this was a tie is taking into consideration that people have a very low expectation of Plain!

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  18. Ron

    Let's face it–The people who would balance your CNN poll are for Sarah and are watching FOX News. So, your poll is invalid.

    October 2, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  19. John

    Sarah Palin just doesn't get it, using poor English doesn't make you "one of us ", it makes you sound ignorant. Calling people "Joe Six Pack" is an insult to anyone with a brain. The fake ,folksy act is see-through. I don't want leaders who spout keywords and wave flags, I want ANSWERS to the questions. I'm still waiting for the first answer from her. Too bad that Joe had to hold back on her,there is so much that he could go after with her,but he had to let her skate so as not to seem sexist or condescending.
    Basically her answers to everything were the same...blah,blah,Alaska,blah,blah,Maverick,oil,blah,blah,victory,maverick,blah,blah,alsaka

    October 2, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  20. American Dream

    Joe looked and spoke like a VP. The other one didn't.

    October 2, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  21. Arden

    I would have to completely have to agree with David Gergen. Gov. Palin did what she had to do, a well rehearsed performance, however, Joe Biden is the man of experience and he proved he knows his stuff. Let John McCain defend himself and stop hiding behind Gov. Palin. I must say for Gov. Palin to say that she wanted to rewrite the constitution in order to have more power is scary.

    October 2, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  22. John

    Since when does not screwing up get you an A-? Because that is all Palin did.

    The bar was lower on Palin's end, and so was the expectation.

    I would give her a C+.

    October 2, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  23. James G

    Gov. Palin did a good job of avoiding the questions that were put to her by staying on the same speech she has been delivering for the past 5 weeks. If people can get past the shucking and jiving they will see that this lady is no more qualified to be vice president than any Joe Six Pack on the street. LEAVE her in Alaska!

    October 2, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  24. Anthony

    If I hear 'Maverick' one more time, I am going to puke.

    October 2, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  25. WyomingForObama

    It sure would be nice if Palin would answer the questions she’s asked. I guess it’s just more of the same old crap, just like McCain. He didn’t answer the questions either. Just ramble on, using buzzwords and clichés to distract people from the truth. Sad.

    October 2, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
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