Friday, October 3, 2008

Palin-Biden debate: Some smoke, little fire


During the debate Palin, right, avoided the mistakes that have blighted recent media appearances

So, after days of media build-up and breathless punditry, the vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden, the Democratic senator from Delaware, and his Republican rival, Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, went ahead in St Louis, Missouri, on Thursday night.

And it was not what some expected.

There were no fireworks or major flubs; instead it was a respectful, often passionate and even, at times, emotional conversation between two people who faced unprecedented interest for an event often viewed almost as an afterthought in the US election.

Compared to the visible chill between the presidential running mates, the atmosphere in the sports complex in Washington University, where the debate took place, was warmer, even convivial.

The audience at times even chuckled at asides made by both candidates and there was a heartwarming tableau at the end, so loved in US politics. Both candidates' families joined them on stage after the debate, Palin cradling her infant son while chatting affably to Biden's daughter.

Strong domestic ground

Many Republicans have recently eyed with alarm their party's battering in recent polls, amid perception that Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president, is stronger on the economy.

In focus

In-depth coverage of the US presidential election
Consequently, they were hoping for a morale boost from the vice-presidential debate.

Analysts on both sides expressed concerns - both in public and reportedly in private - that Palin, governor of a sparsely populated state and who is reviled by many for her perceived inexperience, would prove an embarrassment.

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