I’ve been hearing scuttlebutt about what the campaigns have been stressing to their respective vice-presidential candidates in prepping them for the debate tonight. My funnybone was struck by the mirror-image contrast between the two.
One of the biggest knocks against the McCain campaign (and I agree with this, incidentally) is that they’ve kept too tight a lid on Sarah Palin out on the trail. She doesn’t come across well when her answers are canned and over-rehearsed; this problem was especially apparent during her disastrous encounter with Katie Couric. Word is that this ends tonight, and that she’s much more comfortable in a debate environment where she has more time and latitude to speak from the heart (assuming Gwen Ifill follows Jim Lehrer’s example in asking questions that elicit information without being leading and simply gets out of the way when the answers start flowing). Politico (via Allahpundit) says she’s likely to cut loose tonight and go on the attack.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, is under strict instructions from his debate prepping team not to take any bait tossed his way by Palin, to stick resolutely to talking points (“the Obama message”), not to talk about himself too much, and to avoid even the appearance of condescension. One insider has said that Biden’s best strategy is to finish the debate in such a way that nobody will remember he was even there.
In other words, the respective candidates’ strategies are:
- On the Republican side, “let Sarah be Sarah.”
- On the Democratic side, do not under any circumstances “let Joe be Joe.”
I said it before, and I’ll say it again…I wish there were another one of these before the election.