November 3, 2008: In the Last Week the Tide Turns….

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:

The week that was….

  • November 1, 2008: Confident Obama asks supporters to ‘change the world,’ while McCain digs for last-minute upset … Palin, in prank call from fake French president, says she might make good president in 8 years … McCain pokes fun at his presidential campaign on ‘Saturday Night Live’ – AP
  • October 31, 2008: Obama goes for landslide, even campaigning in rival’s state; McCain says foe is too far left … Not so fast: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin might not be permitted to cash in on fame … Thousands of Colo. residents purged from voter registration rolls now allowed to cast ballots – AP
  • October 30, 2008: McCain says Obama’s economic policies are from the far left of US politics … Former top US diplomat says Palin not up to the task of presidency but could become ‘adequate’ … Don’t rush me: AP poll finds 1 in 7 likely voters still persuadable as Election Day draws near … McCain to appear on ‘Saturday Night Live’ just before election … Biden absent from re-election campaign, depending on surrogates – AP
    Economy reeling, Obama and McCain trade blame, fight for final votes in campaign homestretch … Campaign says Obama TV ads, one positive and one negative, offer their ‘closing argument’ … Biden says Obama will create jobs in hotly contested Missouri … Palin speaks to enthusiastic crowd in Cape Girardeau … Early voting means waiting, waiting and more waiting … NC elections board extends early voting hours on Saturday in wake of record turnout. – AP
  • October 29, 2008: Obama gets his normal cheering crowd at cold, outdoor rally … With polls showing Pa. slipping away, McCain says ‘it’s wonderful to fool the pundits’ … Biden urges early voting in Florida, says state could determine election … McCain calls for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens to resign after felony convictions … Lines long for early voting in Ga.; polling place hours extended in Fla. due to record turnout. – AP….
    AP EXCLUSIVE: Obama ahead or tied in 8 battleground states, GOP worries about landslide … McCain proposes giving more revenue to coastal states that boost offshore oil production … Obama takes his case to the country with infomercial, broader TV blitz … Palin calls for break from Bush energy policies … Palin faces new ethics complaint … In a push for early voting in Fla., Biden urges supporters to promote Obama … Democrats dominate early voting, putting Republicans behind as Election Day approaches AP
  • October 28, 2008: Obama takes his case to the country with infomercial, broader TV blitz … In battleground of Florida, McCain links economy, security … Palin is still in charge with personal assistance from her Anchorage office – AP
  • October 27, 2008: Obama envisions no ‘red’ or ‘blue’ America, but getting elected is different … McCain takes running mate Palin on swing through conservative, rural areas of Pennsylvania … Michelle Obama says she wears J. Crew, expresses empathy over Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe – AP
    McCain says Bush tactic on economy is wrong; promises lid on government spending … Palin promises to work with Israeli ambassador, warns of Democratic monopoly in Washington … Obama offers closing argument in Ohio; vows to restore prosperity and higher national purpose … Biden compares Obama attacks to those lobbed against past presidents –
  • October 26, 2008: McCain says ‘I’m going to win it’ as Obama says the Republican is running out of time’ … McCain says Palin returned some of the $150,000 in clothing the Republican Party bought her … The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s largest newspaper, endorses Obama for president … – AP

The Stats

  • November 2, 2008: Obama keeps his lead in Ohio Final poll: Obama 52%, McCain 46% – Columbia Dispatch, 11-2-08
  • October 31, 2008: Democrat Barack Obama has an 8-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain — 50 percent to 42 percent — among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update. Obama’s lead on Wednesday was 9 points. – AP
  • October 27, 2008: Democrat Barack Obama has a 10-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain — 52 percent to 42 percent — among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update. – AP

In the News…

Campaign Bloopers

Historians’ Comments

  • Will This Election Be Stolen? As both parties battle over just how fraud could taint this election, two analysts with very different viewpoints look at voting abuses from the beginning of the republic to the present day. – WSJ, 11-1-08
  • Essay How to Read Like a President – NYT, 10-31-08
  • Arthur I. Cyr “History says not to count out McCain”: Another factor that may affect the outcome of this election is the so-called “Bradley Effect.” In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American, was defeated for governor of California even though polls showed him winning. This and other examples argue some voters are more included in opinion polls than in the voting booth to support a minority candidate. The 2008 presidential campaign has been remarkably free of appeals to racism, despite personal attacks by both sides. The fact that a major party ticket is headed by an African-American is enormously important — and positive. A Democratic victory, however, won’t be guaranteed until demonstrated by the electorate. – Scripps News, 10-31-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama Holds 6-Point Average Lead Over McCain in Polls”: “Obama’s is a campaign about gaining a lead and then holding it,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey. “McCain’s last two weeks have not changed this. Most important, the context of the election has remained the same — an economy in crisis — so it is hard to get those numbers to move.” — Bloomberg, 11-1-08
  • Devin Fergus “2008 Presidential Election Signals Transition”: First 100 days crucial: Regardless of who is elected president, similarities will be drawn between the first 100 days of the new administration and that of FDR, says 20th-century historian Devin Fergus. How the new president works with Congress in handling the economic and financial crisis will set the tone for the rest of the term. If Obama is elected as a post-racial candidate, he must balance the competing concerns of the investor class with those of working and middle-class voters. Obama’s advisers should look to what lessons could be learned from the successes and failures of the New Deal. – Market Watch, 10-31-08
  • Carl Anthony “Candidate wives a study in contrasts on the trail”: Indeed, Cindy McCain referred to that experience at a women’s event a year ago, says historian Carl Anthony, and suggested that she’d protect herself better this time. “She said, ‘You know what? I’m not going to put it all on the line again,’” says Anthony, of the National First Ladies Library. “‘It’s not the be-all and the end-all.’”… Candidates’ spouses have been an important campaign presence since 1920, when Florence Harding spoke to women’s groups from her front porch, says Anthony, the historian. Mamie Eisenhower was famous for her speeches from her husband’s whistle-stop train. Pat Nixon and Jackie Kennedy both wrote articles boosting their husbands, and Lady Bird Johnson struck out on her own through the Deep South in 1964. – AP, 10-31-08
  • Julien Vaisse “Misunderstanding of US underlies global Obama-mania: analysts”: For Julien Vaisse, a French historian at the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington, one has to see Obama’s economic, political and social policies from an American perspective.”I’m not saying that he is not someone we can believe in. I am just speaking to the fascination that he gives rise to,” Vaisse said. “His charisma is undeniably similar to Bill Clinton’s, which made them (Europeans) forget that he is American.” – AFP, 10-31-08
  • Matthew Whitaker “Blacks’ emotions swell as Obama chases history”: At the local level, African-Americans have made some significant political gains lately, said Matthew Whitaker, a history professor at Arizona State University. In recent years, they have won seats on several school boards, city councils and town boards, often in mostly White communities. Those positions could serve as springboards for statewide offices, Whitaker said. – Arizona Republic, AZ, 10-31-08
  • Alex Keyassar “Anxious voters hurry up and wait 19 percent of Peoria voters cast ballots ahead of Tuesday election”: That effort was a public act of engagement and participation giving a sense of ownership in the process, according to Alex Keyssar, professor of history and social policy at Harvard University. “Early voting for us in our history is important because of the inadequacies of our voting system to handle high turnout,” he said. “Early voting is not as desirable as a functioning system.” Voting on a holiday or Sunday, as is the custom in many countries, is a worthwhile notion, he said. “Voting is an act of participation that gives people a sense of engagement and ownership over the process. It’s an important thing to do,” Keyssar said. “Because of the attraction of Barack Obama, turnout will be high. The significance of government is underscored. It is clear that only a national government remotely has the tools to deal with this current financial crisis. After eight years of what has been an ideological emphasis on less government and diminishing sense of the importance of government, the role of government is underscored and brought home.” – Peoria Journal Star, IL, 11-2-08
  • Myra Gutin: “Will next first lady be a Bess or an Eleanor?”: “Eleanor Roosevelt was the most active first lady of all time; Bess Truman was the least active of the 20th Century,” says Myra Gutin, an historian of first ladies and a communications professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. “We’ve not had a ceremonial first lady since Bess Truman. The position has continually evolved but not necessarily in a chronological development.” “Americans don’t exactly know what they want from a first lady,” Gutin says. “When Hillary Clinton was first lady, she had an office in the West Wing, which made a lot of people unhappy. But there are people who are unhappy with Laura Bush for not taking advantage of the White House podium. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”… “There seems to be a reserve about her (Cindy McCain),” Gutin says. “That kind of scrutiny is tough for anyone but for someone reticent, it can really be a challenge.”… Obama “is a very capable, articulate, bright woman and most likely is going to be an activist first lady,” Gutin says. “And she will be the first one to confront the issue of how to deal with very young children in the White House” since John F. Kennedy. – Detroit Free Press, 10-26-08
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony: “Will next first lady be a Bess or an Eleanor?”: Why does it matter? Carl Sferrazza Anthony, historian for the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio, says the role says as much about America as it does about those who inhabited it. “It opens a window on so many fascinating dialogues about our highly contradictory, highly individualist, unique American culture and the many contradictions we have about women and men,” he says… “It’s the mythological figure of the first lady, a summation of all of them or all the things we’ve liked or like to think we remember liking about them, and it’s somehow quite sacred,” Anthony says. “They take on relic- like status.” Then we “lock these women in a china closet.” – Detroit Free Press, 10-26-08

On The Campaign Trail…

  • November 2, 2008: John McCain in a rally at Strath Haven High School, PA Now let me give you a little straight talk about the state of the race today. There’s just two days left. We’re a couple of points behind in Pennsylvania. The pundits have written us off, just like they’ve done before….
    My friends, the Mac is back!
    The other night, Senator Obama said that if he lost, he would return to the Senate and try again in four years for the second act. That sounds like a great idea to me! Let’s help him make it happen….
    I think that Tom Ridge — and President Bush — deserve some credit for the fact there’s not been another attack on the United States of America since 9/11,’
  • November 2, 2008: Obama say he might be headed for a win Tuesday The past couple of days I’ve just been feeling good….You start thinking maybe we might be able to win an election on November 4.
  • November 2, 2008: Sarah Palin at a Ohio Rally: A little advice to Tina Fey. I want to make sure she’s holding on to that Sarah outfit. Because she’s gonna need it in the next four years.
  • November 2, 2008: : If you have not voted yet, it would be a shame for you to come to a rally and not vote. Go vote now. Do not delay!…. It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick, but you and I know it’s time to come together and change this country. We can’t let this slip away….
    Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending on things we don’t need. As President, I will go through the federal budget, line-by-line, ending programs that we don’t need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.
  • October 31, 2008: Joe Biden to a gropup of reporters in Lima, Ohio: We’ve been down this road before. I felt awful good about this time, you know in the Kerry campaign and I felt good in the Gore campaign and so, so, this, that old joke, you know, it ain’t over till it’s over. I don’t, you know, I mean we feel good, we look good but it’s not over yet….Look, I’m a politician who has run scared in every single election. The fact of the matter is that I have, I have done relatively well in my own elections but I have never, never, before the polls close said, man, this is in the bag….
    We can’t get this done with just Democrats, even if we control, even if we’re lucky enough to get to 60 senators…. I don’t know. I hope it’s intact. I still admire him. I still like him. One of the things I’ve admired about John, and why I’ve considered him a friend, he never gives up. So I just hope when it’s over, win or lose, you walk up and you shake hands and say, “John, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
  • October 31, 2008: John McCain in Hanoverton, Ohio: The pundits have written us off, just like they’ve done before. But we’re closing my friends and we’re going to win in Ohio! My opponent is working out the details with speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise your taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq. He’s measuring the drapes. And as you noticed, the night before last, he gave his first address to the nation before the election. And this week he settled on a chief of staff!… Just four days left! The pundits have written us off, just like they’ve done before. But we’re closing my friends and we’re going to win in Ohio!…. My opponent is working out the details with speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise your taxes, increase spending and concede defeat in Iraq. He’s measuring the drapes. And as you noticed, the night before last, he gave his first address to the nation before the election. And this week he settled on a chief of staff! We’re a few points down, but we’re coming back and we’re coming back strong.
  • October 31, 2008: Barack Obama in Des Moines, IA: What you started here in Iowa has swept the nation. A whole new way of doing democracy started right here in Iowa and it’s all across the country now… A couple of elections ago, there was a presidential candidate who decried this kind of politics and condemned these kinds of tactics. And I admired him for it – we all did. I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land.’ Those words were spoken eight years ago by my opponent, John McCain, but the high road didn’t lead him to the White House then, so this time, he decided to take a different route. Now, I know campaigns are tough because we’ve got real differences about big issues and we care passionately about this country’s future. And make no mistake, we will respond swiftly and forcefully with the truth to whatever falsehoods they throw our way. The stakes are too high to do anything less.
    I don’t disagree with Senator McCain on everything, and I respect his occasional displays of independence. But when it comes to the economy, when it comes to the central issue of this election, the plain truth is that John McCain has stood with President Bush every step of the way.
    I won’t stand here and pretend that any of this will be easy – especially now. Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending on things we don’t need. As President, I will go through the federal budget, line-by-line, ending programs that we don’t need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.
  • October 30, 2008: Palin says Obama infomercial short on specifics in Erie PA.: In times of economic worry and hardship — crisis that we’re in right now — someone is attempting to put those concerns aside on Election Day — national security issues. Obama “wrapped his closing message in a warm and fuzzy scripted infomercial intended to soften the focus in these closing days. He’s hoping that your mind won’t wander to the real challenges of national security, challenges that he isn’t capable of meeting.”… We’re fighting two wars … They think it’s the perfect time to radically reduce defense spending. What are they thinking?
  • October 30, 2008: John McCain, on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” referring to former President Clinton in defending his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
    “I would remind you again there was an obscure governor of a small state called Arkansas that everybody said wasn’t qualified. Well, I didn’t vote for him, but he got elected and re-elected.”
  • Joe McCain: As a historian, I’m a little less worried about things – I hope I’m not being rosy about it – because we’ve been here before. We’ve been through some eight to eleven economic crashes, depending on which economic historians you talk to….How well we come out of these times absolutely depends on whom we have as the captain of our ship of state…The man you want answering the phone at three in the morning is John McCain. – WTOP News, 10-31-08
  • October 29, 2008, Republican John McCain on his Democratic rival Sen. Obama is running to be redistributionist in chief. I’m running to be commander in chief.
  • October 28, 2008, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden: You can’t call yourself a maverick when all you’ve been the last eight years is a sidekick.
  • October 27, 2008: Sarah Palin told Ambassador Sallai Meridor, at a rally in Leesburg, VA: I look forward to hearing about your work with the Jewish Agency and all the plans that we have. We’ll be working together….
    If big government spenders control the House and the Senate and heaven forbid the White House, they will have a monopoly in Washington
  • October 27, 2008: Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden: New ideas and new leaders are often met with new attacks — almost always negative attacks built on lies which are the last resort of those who have nothing new to offer.
  • October 27, 2008, John McCain in Pottsville, Pa. If I’m elected, I’ll fight to shake up Washington. I’m not afraid of the fight, you’re not afraid of the fight and we’re ready for the fight.
  • October 27, 2008: Barack Obama, Canton Memorial Civic Center, Ohio & October 28, 2008: “The question in this election is not “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” We know the answer to that. The real question is, “Will this country be better off four years from now?”…
    In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo. We can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history. That’s what’s at stake.
    In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope.
    Government “should ensure a shot at success not just for those with money and power and influence, but for every single American who’s willing to work. John McCain calls this socialism, I call this opportunity.
  • October 27, 2008: John McCain in Cleveland, Ohio: The difference between myself and Senator Obama is our plan will create new jobs; his plan to raise taxes on small businesses, to impose insurance mandates on families and small businesses will cut jobs…. We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is that he thinks taxes have been too low, and I think that spending has been too high…. That is what change means for the Obama campaign, the redistributor; It means taking your money and giving it to someone else.
  • “Barack Obama and I both have spent quite some time on the basketball court. But where I come from, you have to win the game before you start cutting down the net.” Sarah Palin
  • October 26, 2008: John McCain on Meet the Press, Discussing the Palins $150,000 Wardrobe Look, she lives a frugal life. She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this, and there was some — and some third of that money is given back, the rest will be donated to charity.
  • October 25, 2008: Barack Obama at the University of New Mexico to Hispanic Voters They’ll ask us is this a time when America lost its sense of purpose, when we lost our nerve, when we allowed the same divisions and fears to point us into a deeper recession or, will they say, is this one of those moments when America overcomes?…It’s time to build this economy by investing in the middle class again, and that’s what I’ll do as president.

The Vice Presidential Debate: Highlights

The Vice Presidential Debate: Highlights

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

The first and only vice-presidential debate was held October 2, 2008 at Washington University in St. Louis. It was moderated by Gewn Ifill of PBS, the debate covered a wide range of issues, including pressing domestic issues, such as the economy and foreign policy, including Iraq and Iran.

Debate
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Gov. Sarah Palin at the debate in St. Louis. (Photo: James Estrin/The New York Times)

The Stats

  • CBS Poll: More Uncommitted Voters Saw Biden As Winner: 46% Joe Biden, 21 Sarah Palin, 33%, tie – CBS, 10-2-08
  • Debate poll says Biden won, Palin beat expectations:
    CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll: Joe Biden won 51% to 36% Sarah Palin, 11% tie, 2% neither
    Expectations: 84% said Palin did better than expected and 7% said worse, while 64% said Biden did better than expected and 14% worse.
    Palin beats Biden on likability, 54-36
    87 percent say Biden is qualified for job, 42 percent say Palin is – CNN, 10-2-08

In the News…

Candidate Soundbites

  • Full Transcript
  • On the Economy / Bailout Bill

  • BIDEN: I think it’s neither the best or worst of Washington, but it’s evidence of the fact that the economic policies of the last eight years have been the worst economic policies we’ve ever had. As a consequence, you’ve seen what’s happened on Wall Street.
    If you need any more proof positive of how bad the economic theories have been, this excessive deregulation, the failure to oversee what was going on, letting Wall Street run wild, I don’t think you needed any more evidence than what you see now….
    Yes, well, you know, until two weeks ago — it was two Mondays ago John McCain said at 9 o’clock in the morning that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. Two weeks before that, he said George — we’ve made great economic progress under George Bush’s policies.
    Nine o’clock, the economy was strong. Eleven o’clock that same day, two Mondays ago, John McCain said that we have an economic crisis.
    That doesn’t make John McCain a bad guy, but it does point out he’s out of touch. Those folks on the sidelines knew that two months ago.
  • PALIN:….The barometer there, I think, is going to be resounding that our economy is hurting and the federal government has not provided the sound oversight that we need and that we deserve, and we need reform to that end.
    People in the Senate with him, his colleagues, didn’t want to listen to him and wouldn’t go towards that reform that was needed then. I think that the alarm has been heard, though, and there will be that greater oversight, again thanks to John McCain’s bipartisan efforts that he was so instrumental in bringing folks together over this past week, even suspending his own campaign to make sure he was putting excessive politics aside and putting the country first….
    John McCain, in referring to the fundamental of our economy being strong, he was talking to and he was talking about the American workforce. And the American workforce is the greatest in this world, with the ingenuity and the work ethic that is just entrenched in our workforce. That’s a positive. That’s encouragement. And that’s what John McCain meant.
  • On the Lending Meltdown

  • PALIN: Darn right it was the predator lenders, who tried to talk Americans into thinking that it was smart to buy a $300,000 house if we could only afford a $100,000 house. There was deception there, and there was greed and there is corruption on Wall Street. And we need to stop that…. One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let’s commit ourselves just every day American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars….
    I would like to respond about the tax increases. We can speak in agreement here that darn right we need tax relief for Americans so that jobs can be created here. Now, Barack Obama and Senator Biden also voted for the largest tax increases in U.S. history. Barack had 94 opportunities to side on the people’s side and reduce taxes and 94 times he voted to increase taxes or not support a tax reduction, 94 times….
    I’m still on the tax thing because I want to correct you on that again. And I want to let you know what I did as a mayor and as a governor. And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also….
  • BIDEN: So what you had is you had overwhelming “deregulation.” You had actually the belief that Wall Street could self-regulate itself. And while Barack Obama was talking about reinstating those regulations, John on 20 different occasions in the previous year and a half called for more deregulation. As a matter of fact, John recently wrote an article in a major magazine saying that he wants to do for the health care industry deregulate it and let the free market move like he did for the banking industry….
    The charge is absolutely not true…. Number two, using the standard that the governor uses, John McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes….John McCain said as early as last December, quote — I’m paraphrasing — “I’m surprised about this subprime mortgage crisis,” number one.
  • On Taxes and Healthcare

  • BIDEN: The middle class is struggling. The middle class under John McCain’s tax proposal, 100 million families, middle class families, households to be precise, they got not a single change, they got not a single break in taxes….
    And then you’re going to have to replace a $12,000 — that’s the average cost of the plan you get through your employer — it costs $12,000. You’re going to have to pay — replace a $12,000 plan, because 20 million of you are going to be dropped. Twenty million of you will be dropped.
    So you’re going to have to place — replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the “Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere.”
  • PALIN: Now you said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you’re not always the solution. In fact, too often you’re the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper. An increased tax formula that Barack Obama is proposing in addition to nearly a trillion dollars in new spending that he’s proposing is the backwards way of trying to grow our economy.
    …But a $5,000 health care credit through our income tax that’s budget neutral. That’s going to help. And he also wants to erase those artificial lines between states so that through competition, we can cross state lines and if there’s a better plan offered somewhere else, we would be able to purchase that. So affordability and accessibility will be the keys there with that $5,000 tax credit also being offered.
  • On Campaign Promises

  • BIDEN: The bottom line here is that we are going to, in fact, eliminate those wasteful spending that exist in the budget right now, a number of things I don’t have time, because the light is blinking, that I won’t be able to mention, but one of which is the $100 billion tax dodge that, in fact, allows people to take their post office box off- shore, avoid taxes. I call that unpatriotic. I call that unpatriotic.
  • PALIN: I want to go back to the energy plan, though, because this is — this is an important one that Barack Obama, he voted for in ’05. Senator Biden, you would remember that, in that energy plan that Obama voted for, that’s what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks. Your running mate voted for that….
    There is not. And how long have I been at this, like five weeks? So there hasn’t been a whole lot that I’ve promised, except to do what is right for the American people, put government back on the side of the American people, stop the greed and corruption on Wall Street.
    And the rescue plan has got to include that massive oversight that Americans are expecting and deserving. And I don’t believe that John McCain has made any promise that he would not be able to keep, either.
  • On Energy

  • PALIN: We’re circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign countries, some who do not like America — they certainly don’t have our best interests at heart — instead of those dollars circulating here, creating tens of thousands of jobs and allowing domestic supplies of energy to be tapped into and start flowing into these very, very hungry markets.
    Energy independence is the key to this nation’s future, to our economic future, and to our national security. So when we talk about energy plans, it’s not just about who got a tax break and who didn’t. And we’re not giving oil companies tax breaks, but it’s about a heck of a lot more than that. Energy independence is the key to America’s future….
    Yes, Senator McCain does support this. The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into…. I was surprised to hear you mention that because you had said that there isn’t anything — such a thing as clean coal. And I think you said it in a rope line, too, at one of your rallies.
  • BIDEN: Well, I think it is manmade. I think it’s clearly manmade. And, look, this probably explains the biggest fundamental difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and Joe Biden — Governor Palin and Joe Biden.
    If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. That’s the cause. That’s why the polar icecap is melting.
  • On Same Sex Marriage & Benefits

  • BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple….
    No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that.
  • PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that’s sometimes where those steps lead….But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties…
    Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.
  • On Iraq

  • PALIN: And Senator Biden, I respected you when you called him out on that. You said that his vote was political and you said it would cost lives. And Barack Obama at first said he would not do that. He turned around under political pressure and he voted against funding the troops. We do have a plan for withdrawal. We don’t need early withdrawal out of Iraq. We cannot afford to lose there or we’re going to be no better off in the war in Afghanistan either. We have got to win in Iraq….
    Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq and that is not what our troops need to hear today, that’s for sure. And it’s not what our nation needs to be able to count on. You guys opposed the surge. The surge worked. Barack Obama still can’t admit the surge works.
  • BIDEN: Gwen, with all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan. Barack Obama offered a clear plan. Shift responsibility to Iraqis over the next 16 months. Draw down our combat troops. Ironically the same plan that Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq and George Bush are now negotiating. The only odd man out here, only one left out is John McCain, number one. Number two, with regard to Barack Obama not quote funding the troops, John McCain voted the exact same way. John McCain voted against funding the troops because of an amendment he voted against had a timeline in it to draw down American troops. And John said I’m not going to fund the troops if in fact there’s a time line. Barack Obama and I agree fully and completely on one thing. You’ve got to have a time line to draw down the troops and shift responsibility to the Iraqis.
  • BIDEN: But let’s get straight who has been right and wrong…. John McCain was saying the Sunnis and Shias got along with each other without reading the history of the last 700 years. John McCain said there would be enough oil to pay for this. John McCain has been dead wrong. I love him. As my mother would say, god love him, but he’s been dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war. Barack Obama has been right. There are the facts.
  • On Iran and Pakistan

  • PALIN: An armed, nuclear armed especially Iran is so extremely dangerous to consider. They cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons period… And an issue like that taken up by a presidential candidate goes beyond naivete and goes beyond poor judgment. A statement that he made like that is downright dangerous because leaders like Ahmadinejad who would seek to acquire nuclear weapons and wipe off the face of the earth an ally like we have in Israel should not be met with without preconditions and diplomatic efforts being undertaken first.
  • BIDEN: Now, John and Governor Palin now say they’re all for — they have a passion, I think the phrase was, a passion for diplomacy and that we have to bring our friends and allies along. Our friends and allies have been saying, Gwen, “Sit down. Talk. Talk. Talk.” Our friends and allies have been saying that, five secretaries of state, three of them Republicans. And John McCain has said he would go along with an agreement, but he wouldn’t sit down. Now, how do you do that when you don’t have your administration sit down and talk with the adversary?
  • On Israel

  • PALIN: Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust, despite, again, warnings from Iran and any other country that would seek to destroy Israel, that that is what they would like to see. We will support Israel. A two-state solution, building our embassy, also, in Jerusalem, those things that we look forward to being able to accomplish, with this peace-seeking nation, and they have a track record of being able to forge these peace agreements.
  • BIDEN: Gwen, no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion.
  • PALIN: But for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there’s just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that’s where you’re going. Positive change is coming, though. Reform of government is coming. We’ll learn from the past mistakes in this administration and other administrations…. That’s what John McCain has been known for in all these years. He has been the maverick. He has ruffled feathers. But I know, Senator Biden, you have respected for them that, and I respect you for acknowledging that. But change is coming.
  • On Nuclear Weapons & Afganistan

  • PALIN: Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period…. Now, Barack Obama had said that all we’re doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause. That’s not what we’re doing there. We’re fighting terrorists, and we’re securing democracy, and we’re building schools for children there so that there is opportunity in that country, also. There will be a big difference there, and we will win in — in Afghanistan, also….
    Barack Obama was saying we need more troops there. Again, we spend in three weeks on combat missions in Iraq, more than we spent in the entire time we have been in Afghanistan. That will change in a Barack Obama administration.
  • BIDEN: Look, we have spent more money — we spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country. Let me say that again. Three weeks in Iraq; seven years, seven years or six-and-a-half years in Afghanistan. Now, that’s number one. Number two, with regard to arms control and weapons, nuclear weapons require a nuclear arms control regime. John McCain voted against a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty that every Republican has supported.
  • On Foreign Wars, etc..

  • BIDEN: With regard to Iraq, I indicated it would be a mistake to — I gave the president the power. I voted for the power because he said he needed it not to go to war but to keep the United States, the UN in line, to keep sanctions on Iraq and not let them be lifted. I, along with Dick Lugar, before we went to war, said if we were to go to war without our allies, without the kind of support we need, we’d be there for a decade and it’d cost us tens of billions of dollars. John McCain said, no, it was going to be OK.
  • PALIN: Oh, yeah, it’s so obvious I’m a Washington outsider. And someone just not used to the way you guys operate. Because here you voted for the war and now you oppose the war. You’re one who says, as so many politicians do, I was for it before I was against it or vice- versa. Americans are craving that straight talk and just want to know, hey, if you voted for it, tell us why you voted for it and it was a war resolution… .I beg to disagree with you, again, here on whether you supported Barack Obama or John McCain’s strategies. Here again, you can say what you want to say a month out before people are asked to vote on this, but we listened to the debates.
  • On Education

  • PALIN: Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education and I’m glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving. Teachers needed to be paid more. I come from a house full of school teachers. My grandma was, my dad who is in the audience today, he’s a schoolteacher, had been for many years. My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here’s a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate.
  • BIDEN: I hope we’ll get back to education because I don’t know any government program that John is supporting, not early education, more money for it. The reason No Child Left Behind was left behind, the money was left behind, we didn’t fund it.
  • On the role of the Vice-President

  • PALIN: Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.
  • BIDEN: And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there’s a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.
  • On the Candidates’ Achilles heel

  • PALIN: But it wasn’t just that experience tapped into, it was my connection to the heartland of America. Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills? About times and Todd and our marriage in our past where we didn’t have health insurance and we know what other Americans are going through as they sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how are they going to pay out-of-pocket for health care? We’ve been there also so that connection was important…. People aren’t looking for more of the same. They are looking for change. And John McCain has been the consummate maverick in the Senate over all these years…. We have got to win the wars. We have got to get our economy back on track. We have got to not allow the greed and corruption on Wall Street anymore….Change is coming. And John McCain is the leader of that reform.
  • BIDEN: You’re very kind suggesting my only Achilles Heel is my lack of discipline… Others talk about my excessive passion. I’m not going to change. I have 35 years in public office. People can judge who I am. I haven’t changed in that time…. I understand, as well as, with all due respect, the governor or anybody else, what it’s like for those people sitting around that kitchen table. And guess what? They’re looking for help. They’re looking for help. They’re not looking for more of the same….Look, the maverick — let’s talk about the maverick John McCain is. And, again, I love him. He’s been a maverick on some issues, but he has been no maverick on the things that matter to people’s lives.
  • On Bipartisanship

  • BIDEN: I have been able to reach across the aisle. I think it’s fair to say that I have almost as many friends on the Republican side of the aisle as I do the Democratic side of the aisle….
    I have been able to work across the aisle on some of the most controversial issues and change my party’s mind, as well as Republicans’, because I learned a lesson from Mike Mansfield. Mike Mansfield, a former leader of the Senate, said to me one day — he — I made a criticism of Jesse Helms. He said, “What would you do if I told you Jesse Helms and Dot Helms had adopted a child who had braces and was in real need?” I said, “I’d feel like a jerk.” He said, “Joe, understand one thing. Everyone’s sent here for a reason, because there’s something in them that their folks like. Don’t question their motive.”
  • PALIN: Now, Barack Obama, of course, he’s pretty much only voted along his party lines. In fact, 96 percent of his votes have been solely along party line, not having that proof for the American people to know that his commitment, too, is, you know, put the partisanship, put the special interests aside, and get down to getting business done for the people of America….
    You do what I did as governor, and you appoint people regardless of party affiliation, Democrats, independents, Republicans. You — you walk the walk; you don’t just talk the talk. And even in my own family, it’s a very diverse family. And we have folks of all political persuasion in there, also, so I’ve grown up just knowing that, you know, at the end of the day, as long as we’re all working together for the greater good, it’s going to be OK.
  • Changing View & Closing Remarks

  • BIDEN: And so that — that — that was one of the intellectual changes that took place in my career as I got a close look at it. And that’s why I was the first chairman of the Judiciary Committee to forthrightly state that it matters what your judicial philosophy is. The American people have a right to understand it and to know it….
    You know, in the neighborhood I grew up in, it was all about dignity and respect. A neighborhood like most of you grew up in. And in that neighborhood, it was filled with women and men, mothers and fathers who taught their children if they believed in themselves, if they were honest, if they worked hard, if they loved their country, they could accomplish anything. We believed it, and we did. That’s why Barack Obama and I are running, to re-establish that certitude in our neighborhoods. Ladies and gentlemen, my dad used to have an expression. He’d say, “champ, when you get knocked down, get up.” Well, it’s time for America to get up together. America’s ready, you’re ready, I’m ready, and Barack Obama is ready to be the next president of the United States of America.
  • PALIN: …But on the major principle things, no, there hasn’t been something that I’ve had to compromise on, because we’ve always seemed to find a way to work together. Up there in Alaska, what we have done is, with bipartisan efforts, is work together and, again, not caring who gets the credit for what, as we accomplish things up there….
    I want to assure you that John McCain and I, we’re going to fight for America. We’re going to fight for the middle-class, average, everyday American family like mine. I’ve been there. I know what the hurts are. I know what the challenges are. And, thank God, I know what the joys are, too, of living in America. We are so blessed. And I’ve always been proud to be an American. And so has John McCain. We have to fight for our freedoms, also, economic and our national security freedoms. It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free. We will fight for it, and there is only one man in this race who has really ever fought for you, and that’s Senator John McCain.

Debate

Gov. Sarah Palin and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke as their families gathered on stage after the vice-presidential debate. (Photo: James Estrin/The New York Times)

Historians’ Comments

  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: Well, I think in one way, and that is, you know, we saw Adlai Stevenson distance himself from the unpopular Harry Truman in ’52. And Hubert Humphrey tried to do that with LBJ in 1968. But Sarah Palin put both of them in the shade tonight. She left George W. Bush way behind in the snow. You would think that there was almost no connection between them, especially because, on one of the rare occasions when Joe Biden essentially tried to say, “This is the president of your party,” and she said, “You know, Joe, you’re looking backwards. Say it ain’t so.”
    And I think the result of that was, you didn’t have a candidate who was trying to defend a lot of the Iraq war, as unpopular as it is, or even some of the president’s decisions that may have led to this economic crisis.
    And the result was that this was sort of an argument by her relentless that was not too different from a lot of the Republican presidential campaigns all the way back to ’72. “The Democrats will give you high taxes. They’re too weak.”
    I thought that she went almost over the line in saying that Biden and Obama, if elected, would raise the white flag of surrender. I think that was really not of the stature of a potential vice president….
    Well, and both of them were probably helped by the rules, the McCain side that was worried that Sarah Palin, if you had longer answers and, as you know better than anyone, Jim, these were rules that were different from the ones that you operated under last week, much more clipped answers, much less sort of interaction between the two candidates.
    And so there was not a gaffe on either side. And I think both sides were relieved.
    But I didn’t think that they really looked equal tonight. I think she got through without saying something that would damage her in the way that some of these interviews that she’s done with Katie Couric and others have done during the last week.
    But I think Biden gave the sense of someone who’s a little bit more human, a lot more willing to confess human error. His was sort of, “You know, here I am, warts and all.” I think that’s appealing in a public figure. – PBS Newshour, 10-2-08
  • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University: Sure. Well, I agree with David. I think, in a sense, that she obviously surpassed expectations if you thought that Tina Fey basically had set, you know, the threshold.
    I think the biggest change that will probably occur as a result of this evening, I think you will hear those voices on the right, particularly conservative intellectuals, who have been calling publicly for her to get off the ticket, I think that will go away. There is no doubt that Sarah Palin’s name will be on the ballot on November 4th.
    Beyond that, I have to tell you, you know, we’re all understandably spending a lot of time talking about Governor Palin. Joe Biden had a difficult job, in some ways, going into this. Remember Vice President Bush 20 years ago with Geraldine Ferraro.
    Remember going into this debate, everyone was speculating about, would he be condescending? Would he talk down to her? Would he make her a sympathetic figure by, you know, inadvertently? Would he be too long-winded? Would he make gaffes?
    And the fact is, I think he turned in a solid performance this evening. So, on balance, I’m not sure this is really a game-changer. – PBS Newshour, 10-2-08
  • ELLEN FITZPATRICK, University of New Hampshire: Well, I think it may have been; it may not have been. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.
    But what’s fascinating to me was that, in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro was asked how she could be commander-in-chief during the vice presidential debate when she had no military experience.
    And, furthermore, wouldn’t it be likely that the Soviets might take advantage of her, were we to have a woman president or vice president? Wouldn’t this somehow weaken the powers of the office to have a woman holding it?
    And she answered in a very straightforward way. And throughout that entire debate, she never made reference, really, to her gender.
    Tonight, we heard a debate being waged here in which Governor Palin repeatedly referred to being a mom, to soccer games, to parents, to third-graders, to hockey moms, and to her own children, to her family.
    And in that 25-year period almost that has gone by, it’s an enormous sea change, it seems to me, in the politics of gender. I would wager that, if Geraldine Ferraro had said these things in 1984, that she would have been criticized for calling attention to her role as a mother and relying on that as a kind of expertise.
    Tonight, I thought Governor Palin raised these issues repeatedly as qualifying her in some special way for the office that she aspires to hold.
    …I found it a little bit folksy for my taste, but the voters, of course, will decide. I thought that what we were hearing was a kind of populism in which the implication was that complex problems are not very complex and that common sense is really a qualification that she holds, like many other Americans, that will help solve the problems the nation faces. – PBS Newshour, 10-2-08
  • DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN (presidential historian)From October 2 broadcast of PBS’ Charlie Rose: I didn’t really see any gaffes, nor were there many Tina Fey moments, or what might come on Saturday Night Live. The only one might be when she asked what might trigger a nuclear war, and she went into, “A nuclear war, that’s the be-all and the end-all. That’s bad. A lot of people, gone.” I can see them using that as a moment, but other than that, no, they both handled everything pretty well…. Oh, and there was McKiernan versus McClellan, the name of the general in Afghanistan. – Nedia Matters, 10-2-08
  • Douglas Brinkley “Presidential historian discusses vice presidential debate”: “What she’s good at is about Alaska politics, gas and oil issues, energy issues, and now national issues, so you don’t want to minimize that,” says Brinkley. “But clearly she’s somebody who is not a global thinker in a time of a global economy and a time of a global war on terror, and she has to prove… in this debate tonight that she is a quick study, that she’s got good judgment.” – CbS News7, 10-2-08
  • Allan Lichtman on “At High-Stakes Debate, VP Candidates Face Unique Challenges”: “She has really got to show that she has an understanding of the economy and an understanding of the world,” American University professor Allan Lichtman said. “She should be herself, she shouldn’t hold back (against Biden), but she has got to show that she has substance there.”… “He can’t appear to be overbearing and bullying, but he can be tough,” Lichtman said. “He cannot emit one of his famous gaffes,” Lichtman said. – Fox News, 10-2-08
  • Douglas Brinkley on “At High-Stakes Debate, VP Candidates Face Unique Challenges”: “Let her be a voice of something different,” historian Douglas Brinkley said. “‘I may not have been in Washington, I don’t have the world experience, but my judgment’s good and my heart’s in the right place’.” – Fox News, 10-2-08
  • Peter Kastor on “US braces for VP debate as Palin’s star wanes”: “It’s make-or-break for her in the sense that, in a three-game series, her record so far is one and one: the convention and the interviews,” said Peter Kastor, Washington University history professor, “This could be what seals the deal. If she does extremely well or extremely poorly, obviously it will be the debate that people say defines Sarah Palin’s candidacy.” Washington University history professor Peter Kastor told AFP. – AFP, Time (UK), 10-2-08
  • Julian Zelizer – DEMOCRATS SHOULD IGNORE THE PALIN-BIDEN DEBATE: “Everyone will be watching the Biden-Palin vice presidential debate. This is an eagerly awaited event, with predictions that Americans will tune in high numbers to see whether Palin can handle the tough questions and if Biden puts his foot in his mouth, once again. Democrats need to be very careful. When Senator McCain introduced Governor Palin as his running mate, Republicans completely knocked Democrats off their message. The Democratic Party had just come off a very strong convention and a historic speech by Senator Barack Obama. Yet the introduction of Palin created a media frenzy around her, distracting reporters from the main contest, and giving Republicans a chance to regroup and to rebound in the polls…..
    ….Tonight’s debate, in certain respects, comes at perfect time for Republicans. Whatever happens, Americans will be watching Palin not Obama. Democrats should stay focused on the themes from this week, rather than encourage reporters to spend the next week talking about the gaffes or intelligence of Palin. In the end, this is a contest between McCain and Obama, and about Bush’s record over the last eight years. When Republicans shift to other issues, they do better. When forced to confront the main issues, they have struggled. – Huffington Post, 10-2-08
  • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich – Uneasy Twins: “For the past few weeks the nation has been engaged in a truly bizarre debate over who is better qualified for the presidency — Barack Obama or Sarah Palin. It doesn’t matter that he is a candidate for president, she for vice president. Or that he won his party’s nomination through a hard-fought primary that energized millions of new voters and raised America’s standing abroad. Suddenly, in the first weeks of September, he was last year’s celebrity, she the new star. Plucked from obscurity in Alaska, she was the new Obama even though no one outside her home state had ever checked her name on a ballot. Black man. White woman. The only possible basis for comparison is that neither Barack Obama nor Sarah Palin is a white male….” – Huffington Post, 10-2-08
  • Great Moments In Veep Debate History: “Who Am I? Why Am I Here?” – The Hotline Political Network, 10-1-08
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