Pretty good summary at Politico this week. I agree with most of it.
Biden must be prepared for her to attack both him and Obama. If I were in the McCain campaign, that’s what I’d do. An assault on him by her would likely throw him a little off balance if he hasn’t considered the possibility. It would be the best way to keep the focus off herself. But certainly you would expect him to be prepared for her to make this debate not about her, but Obama. As as he’s surely been advised not to patronize her, if cornered, he might stumble, afraid of appearing condescending or dismissive of a woman candidate. Forcing him to defend his or Obama’s positions leaves less time for her to put her foot in her mouth.
Otherwise, not attacking her is probably smart. Let her dig her own hole, at which she has proven adept. But he should take advantage of the two minute discussion period by, as one debate preparer suggested, by asking her what she thinks. Biden’s problem will be to leave enough of the two-minute period for her to respond. Keep it short, Joe. She’d be smart to ask him what he thinks. Those two minutes would disappear.
It would be a mistake for him not to engage Palin directly, without referring to any of her previous gaffs. If he disagrees with something she says, he should say so — directly to her. Otherwise, he would be accused of being as dismissive and disrespectful to her as McCain was to Obama. And when asked to respond to something she says, I’d repeat the phrase, “If I understand Gov. Palin….”
I agree that McCain is his real target because if anyone has the experience and credibility to question McCain’s positions and temperament, it is Biden. He should provide clear examples of McCain’s behavior and votes in the Senate. Questioning McCain’s temperament, which Obama signaled in his acceptance speech, will be central to the rest of the campaign.
Biden can also provide confirmation of Obama’s work in the Senate by referencing their work together on the Foreign Relations Committee, of which Biden is the chair.
Biden’s blue collar roots should be highlighted as Palin will certainly emphasize that part of her biography. And it’s not just about Biden’s roots but Obama’s. Again, he can testify to Obama’s views and how they were sculpted by his upbringing. In fact, he should find an opportunity to explain why McCain can’t identify with the middle class. He was the son and grandson of an admiral, a son of privilege, who leveraged that privilege into an appointment to the Naval Academy where he was, as we all know, near the bottom of the class. Now he’s a rich man with a house or two. He’s never been in the middle class.
The bar is now set so low for Palin that Biden would be well served not to worry about how she comes off but rather reinforce his reputation as a thoughtful leader in foreign affairs. For the most part, the VP debate is even less than a warm bucket of spit. “You’re no John Kennedy” didn’t stop Dan Quayle from being elected VP.
And given the criticism moderator Gwen Ifill, don’t expect much help from her. I respect her, but my guess is she’ll tread lightly. That pre-censorship is something conservatives are good at engendering by criticizing the press. Those tough reporters tend to have thin skins, according to Howard Kurtz, “…some journalists say privately they are censoring their comments about Palin to avoid looking like they’re piling on.”
I’ll be holding my breath tomorrow night, not when she speaks, but when Biden does. Please Joe, resist the flip ad lib.