October 2nd, 2008
11:02 PM ET
10 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. texas democrat

    Joe won the debate because he knows what he is talking about, I think Palin kept giving the same answers again and again. But she was doing her best.

    October 2, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  2. Charles

    John, you forgot her reference to OIL in every single answer.

    October 2, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  3. Jevaris Johnson in Atlanta

    This was not close. I am going to vote for a person who can't even comment on foreclosure and bankruptcy. There is no way I put a 3rd string QB on the field when I have Tom Brady ready to play.

    Palin did a good job of doing a poor job. Avoiding, ducking, and winking is not what I wanted. Answers is what I wanted and Palin is laughable. The Republicans are making her look like an idiot! Kind of like a Sambo....

    She can not answer questions but wants more VP power...UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!

    October 2, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  4. Linda Pastorino

    I would agree in that Biden did extremely well however I disagree that Palin should get an A-. She looked tranquilized and was drone in her commentary. except in the cases where she revered to cute inuendo making her commentary appear imature and child like. She started out nervous and in some cases stumbled with answers, rambled or mostly did not aswer the question at all but diverted to rhetoric. She sounded extremely rehearsed to the point that the answers did not sound authentic or worked out on stage but pre thought and stale, not , clear cut and decisive like Biden. He was the hands down winner and came across making the choices much easier for those who are undecided.

    October 2, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  5. GW - Chapel Hill

    I actually enjoyed this debate more than the one in Mississippi. It somehow seemed more authentic. I have to admit that Palin did better than expected, but again, the expectations were low. She seemed to rely primarily on talking point and pre-arranged narratives. Biden seemed more spontaneous and effective in his answers (which would make sense if he were more experienced and better qualified). No huge change, but i think Biden won.

    October 2, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  6. arezendes

    Are you kidding me? I sat there and watched the entire VP debates tonight and I cannot for the life of me find a reason for why all the major news media outlets call it a draw. Biden was the clear winner. He exposed Palin's inexperience, forcing her to go off topic several times because she could not defend McCain's positions on almost anything. She kept on going back to the same memorized speech over and over again and had no new information to share. I am quite frankly insulted that anyone could call this a draw. No way. Not a chance. She lost. Sorry Republicans, you're aren't the candidates for change. Did anyone hear Palin apologize to Biden at the very end when they were shaking hands? How odd.

    October 2, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  7. FreeNLovIt

    If you like Cheney, you will LOVE Palin. In the debate, she was recommending and embracing more roles for the VP.

    Like I have said before, Bush by Heart, Cheney by Brain, then, Palin is your choice.

    If you like to rush to wars, pick Palin

    October 2, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  8. Ryaple

    It wasn't even close. Joe Biden gave the debate performance of his life. Substantive, respectful, understanding, and he managed to form complete sentences.

    Sarah Palin consistently avoided questions by reverting to rehearsed attacks and to campaign talking points. At one point she flat out refused to answer a question regarding bankruptcy.

    Let`s be fair. She didnt`tank it like everyone expected her to. That doesn`t mean she won it (or tied it...ps.Mark Halperin)

    October 2, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  9. Linda Mulkern

    What would be exceedingly dangerous is a win of McCain/Biden....that would finish this country off and I predict we would be in another war within 6 months....I have been for Obama/Biden and feel this country has the best chance with them...
    However, I will say how appalled I am at the Senate and both these candidates for going along with the Bush bailout....no real discussions, just a hurry up quickie once again...and worse, I am sicken at the added pork....why are Americans standing for this?? Why aren't they contacting their Senators and so forth....I am so fed up with politicians and lies that for the first time in my life I will refuse to vote...if I was able to reach this country, I would suggest that would be what we should do...clean out the corruption!!

    October 2, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  10. Pat

    Just want to say Sen Biden hit a home run. He answered all the questions put to him. Gov Palin got to 1st base. I thought she would strike out. So she did better than I expected, but that folksy way she winks etc and calling middle Americans "Joe Six-Pack" is an insult to most of us middle or low incomers.
    I think Sen Biden won this debate with no doubt.
    I will be voting for Obama/Biden. But in all fairness I felt that way before tonights debate. I just can't even imagine Gov Palin as President. And we have to think of that possability

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I don't know how you could possibly give Sarah Palin any "A" when she gave NO facts, NO program plans, NO statistics, and said the same thing over and over and over. She could not answer questions and went off on tangents on others. She sneered and smiled inappropriately. If "OBiden" (she called him that once by mistake!) did that it would be the number one "gaffe." The only thing she did was talk incessantly about the same things and smile obnoxiously.

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  12. anne

    Palin won big time wake up Dem. She just scared the hell out you . Maybe you should be watching and reading other blogs, you might find out there is different opinions on who won.
    I am sure that this will not appear on blog as it will be closed by the time I enter it

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  13. Mike

    I want to believe that the American people could see through Palin's rehashed rhetoric tonight. I was about to slit my wrists if she had brought up the word "Maverick" one more time.

    On the other hand, Biden was top notch; too bad the pundits will downplay his performance while lifting up Moose-Lady...

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  14. FreeNLovIt

    Overall, Palin did a great job, but the person with the judgement, vision and patience, was clearly, Biden.

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  15. Unbelievable!

    She would have had to trip over the podium and bust her lip to not exceed expectations.

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  16. Cathy

    I'm sorry but OF COURSE Palin met expectations. The expectations couldn't be any lower for Palin.

    Bottom line...America should never lower expectations for second higher office in the United States of America...!!!

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  17. Nan Hoback

    In california six of us watched the debate- 4 are democrats who were for CLinton and 2 are independents. ALL 6 OF US AGREED THAT PALIN WON THIS DEBATE HANDS DOWN

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  18. Brick Tamlin

    Listen, at a job interview, you can probably mis-state a fact or two. I mean we're not hard drives so errors in detail are understandable. But to just ignore questions is appalling. Imagine at a job interview: "What do you think you're weaknesses are?" -- uh uh I'm great at making spreadsheets!

    Biden – B+
    Palin – Incomplete

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  19. tabitha

    Biden did a good job were the pundits are wrong is that palini keeps on appearing to her base while as obama/biden strategy is to appeal to the undecided and independent base because the republican base is already ecited about her so i think biden won the ohio or virginia voters that are not decided

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  20. Cathy

    Joe Biden showed why he deserves to become the next Vice President of the U.S., and I give him an A+. He was informed, experienced, and sharp. Gov. Palin showed why she needs to go back to being the Gov. of Alaska. This woman does not have a clue on how to be a Vice President. She was vague, confused, and hardly answered any questions directly. I give her a D+ for effort. She appeared nervous and repeatedly quoted things that McSame and his croonies have drilled in her head. I know that CNN reporters are trying to be nice, but I am a woman and I know that this woman is in way over her head. She looked like a deer in the headlights. Please, Please, Please send this woman back to Alaska.

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  21. Lissa in Montreal

    I agree with many here – the folksy is good but she should start speaking grammatically correctly (sentences such as "Senator McCain and I, we will" and dropping "g" from every verb ending "ing") and begin speaking more authoritatively is she's going to help McCain at all.

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  22. Ray Nado

    Gov Palin won this debate, and the Palin we saw tonight is the real Palin and this proves what we knew about the Couric interview with questions intended to cath her .

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  23. Concerned American

    Sarah Palin is a beautiful, all around nice women. She'd be a great person to hang out with, sit down and have a beer with. She is the average American. Unfortunately, that is the problem. If we ever want America to be better than average, we must have people better than average representing us.

    While Sarah Palin did better than expected (not a hard task to accomplish when expectations are at zero) I don't think she has swayed anybody. People who were for Obama/Biden are still for Obama/Biden. People who are for McCain/Palin are still for McCain/Palin. And people who are undecided are, most likely, still undecided.

    She's charasmatic, I'll give her that, but she and McCain are not the leaders we need right now.

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  24. Paul

    When Palin looked at the camera, I thought she was reading off a teleprompter. When Biden looked at the camera, he was talking to my face and I was listening.

    October 2, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  25. Barney

    Biden A

    Palin F

    We need to get back to the constitution – not a power hungry VP like we've had behind the scenes for 8 years


    October 2, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
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