Thursday, October 2, 2008

To The Point Discusses Palin as VP Candidate

Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican convention made her a household name, but her interviews with reporters have bombed in the polls and with many Republicans. On Thursday, on the To the Point radio program, which Sarah Palin will show up for the vice presidential debate? Will she or Joe Biden provide the material for late-night comedians?

To the Point is a daily talk show hosted by news veteran Warren Olney. Link to the show via Bosco Radio: News and Information at 12 PM PT/ 3 PM ET. The show on Sarah Palin has been archived at

1 comment:

Doug Vehle said...

Which Sarah Palin will show up? Why, the one that doesn't have to win to gain in the polls, of course.

Compare to Alain Prost, 1993 Grand Prix Champion. (His 4th) Got no credit in winning 7 races when the car worked right, while huge blame was heaped on him when the car malfunctioned and he didn't win. Football, baseball, every sport has the player, the team, etc., that is faulted when they win but don't look even better when they do.

So Joe Biden can't really make himself look better, but he can look worse. It's like he can't even seriously debate, it would be perceived as picking on a weakling. But if he gets off message, that might hurt the Obama campaign, even if he wins the debate.

Palin, on the other hand, can't do much to hurt her image. She could pull of a surprise victory, and that would be of at least a small help to the McCain campaign, which has needed the attention she has brought.

She's regarded as getting a black eye in the Katie Couric interview, but give Couric some credit. A ruthless opponent like Condolessa Rice walked away bloodied from a Couric interview; this is a reporter who knows she can't throw the knockout punch, so she just chips away with those little jabs. If you catch the full interview, Palin doesn't come off so bad, there's just several stumbling moments that made the 'Gotcha' moments for soundbytes.

So picture a cautious Biden trying to keep from getting himself in trouble; and Palin going to her strength, playing to the crowd rather than the moderator. I'm posting this shortly before it will begin. The normally loquacious Bob Dole said his lackluster 1976 performance against the always unspectacular VP candidate Walter Mondale "Empty chairs walked out." The potential is there, but I doubt it'll be that bad.

Remember 1988. Lloyd Bentsen landed Dan Quayle in the cheap seats, and was regarded as the overwhelming winner. This brought a 1 point bump in the next poll. Only the VP candidate, and the 'You are NO Jack Kennedy' remark by Bentsen is thought to have cut the value of his victory because he was picking on a weakling. The Dukakis campaign had really needed solid numbers from the VP debate, even more than McCain does this year. Long after the debate performance was forgotten, the 'Jack Kennedy' comment was remembered.

In 1996, traditional crowd pleaser Jack Kemp stumbled badly, humbled more by himself than by Al Gore, whom 83% of those polled called the winner. Gore used his same strategy from 4 years earlier, laying back to keep from upstaging the presidential candidate and restraining the wildman behavior that had brought him to the public consciousness as a comic candidate in 1988. People still didn't know the REAL Al Gore, yet.

What will carry the day this year? Probably a repeat of the 1st presidential debate, where glasshouse dweller Barack Obama was careful to not throw rocks at glass jaw public speaker John McCain. Obama focused on not losing, McCain on not getting beat bad. Neither got a bump in the polls.

Biden will probably do a better job of the same strategy as his headliner. I doubt he'll have the foot in mouth moment his campaign is quietly fearing, he just won't pick up the stunning victory they wish they could have.

Palin, meanwhile, should also do a better job of repeating her leader. The question is, alone on the stage, with no emphasis placed on the occasional gaffe, her superior 'Folksy-ness' will probably play well with the audience at home. If she's smart, she'll offer a page from Katie Couric's notebook, never looking for the homerun, just chipping away with the 'Little ball.'

When it is over, and Biden has won, will he have won well enough that the Obama polls see a bump? Or will it be Palin holding her own, making herself a tough target to ridicule even as Biden lands a figurative hand upside her head, with the bump left in her camp's polls? As Bentsen proved, it's possible to win the debate but lose the polls.

Oh, wait, let's not forget George W. Bush has NEVER won a debate, for governor of Texas or for President of the United States, but won 3 of those 4 elections, and at least got a bump in polls in 2000 after being bumped around onstage. Ah, but that's the presidential debates, which I should comment on at another time.