Protecting Palin at the Debates

The debates between Obama and McCain might be more interesting with a wide open format, but part of the deal protects Palin from being faced with questions from Joe Biden. The New York Times reports:

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

The real problem isn’t that Palin is a less experienced debater. She had to do her share of debating to rise in Alaska politics. Her real disadvantage is in lacking the knowledge of the issues which Biden (along with pretty much everyone in politics ) has compared to her.

Obama also pushed to have the order of the debates reversed so that national security would be the topic of the first debate, which historically is the most watched. This shows confidence on Obama’s part in directly taking on McCain on the subject where the conventional wisdom (incorrectly) says he is stronger. If Obama can show that he can at least hold his own, and preferably demonstrate he has the better ideas on national security, it is likely that many undecided voters who still have doubts about Obama would back him.


  1. 1
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    The way to make the debates more interesting is to allow Libertarian Party candidates Bob Barr and Wayne Root to participate.

    But of course, the Democrats would never go for that, for to allow the Libertarians in, would expand the political spectrum, and make Obama and Biden look like super-Leftwinger Radicals. 

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    What makes you think that the Democrats oppose having the libertarians and the Republicans support this? The Commission on Presidential Debates sets the qualification rules, not either party. I doubt neither the Democratic or Republican candidates would want other candidates there.

    Super left wing radicals? Only in your mind as you see anyone other than an extreme right winger as being left wing.

    Barr and Root are fairly conservative for LP candidates, but otherwise there would be many areas where Libertarians and Democrats might show that the Republicans are far right radicals. Libertarians and Democrats would be far closer on both ending the Iraq war and ending the drug war. They could both agree in criticizing the Republicans for their suppression of civil liberties.

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