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September 20, 2008

Vice Presidential Debate Shenanigans – Thursday, October 2 at 9pm EST

 The McCain campaign has insisted that the Thursday, October 2 debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees. With this format there will be much less occasion for impromptu direct exchanges between Palin and Biden.

 McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

The bickering and power struggle was chiefly between the McCain-Palin camp and the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates which is sponsoring the forums.

Commission members wanted a relaxed format that included time for follow-up questioning and challenges between the vice-presidential candidates. Last week, the Commission rejected a proposal from advisers to Palin and McCain for few if any free flowing or flexible interactions. Advisers to Biden say they were comfortable with either format.

 A commission member said that the new agreement on the vice-presidential debate was reached late morning Saturday. It calls for shorter blocks of candidate statements and open discussion than at the presidential debates.

Both campaigns see the four debates as pivotal moments in a presidential race that is not only extraordinarily close but also drawing intense interest from voters; roughly 40 million viewers watched the major speeches at the two parties’ conventions.

 While the debates between presidential nominees are traditionally the main events in the fall election season, the public interest in Palin has proved extraordinary, and a large audience is expected for her debate debut.

The negotiations for the three 90-minute debates between Obama and McCain were largely free of any power struggle. The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates which begin this Friday, September 26. Teams Obama and McCain agreed to one substantive change to the format originally proposed by the debate commission, giving them two minutes apiece to make a statement at the beginning of each segment on a new topic.

Schedule of debates:

Friday, September 26, 2008: Presidential debate with foreign policy focus, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

 Thursday, October 2, 2008: Vice Presidential debate, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

 Tuesday, October 7, 2008: Presidential debate in a town hall format, Belmont University, Nashville, TN

 Wednesday, October 15, 2008: Presidential debate with domestic policy focus, Hofstra University, Hempstead (L.I.), NY






  1. The McCain campaign is afraid to let Palin on her own. That shows a lack of confidence by McCain in his choice for VP. What was he thinking? He is such a reactionary. Shoots first and asks questions later. Not a good characteristic for a president.

    Comment by Cats r Flyfishn — September 20, 2008 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  2. this really sounds like preferential treatment to me. what in the world would have happened if hillary had taken this position? she would have been laughed off the stage, ridiculed and called weak [read: a woman]. will someone PLEASE stop the insanity?!

    Comment by bloominglater — September 20, 2008 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

  3. Team McCain ought to be EMBARRASSED that they have to have special negotiations for their VP candidate for a simple debate. OUTRAGEOUS!

    If elected, how does she expect to hold a constitutional office in the federal government? The VP is the first person in the presidential line of succession and would become the new POTUS upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president. As designated by the Constitution of the United States, the vice president also serves as the President of the Senate and may break tie votes.

    If she was to become VP of the US how does she expect to debate 100 Senators as President of the Senate when she can’t debate one?


    Comment by Paulette — September 20, 2008 @ 11:36 pm | Reply

  4. They better hit her with some tough questions. And Biden should call her on her answers. How does seeing Russia from your house give you foreign policy experience?

    Of course her beehive will probably be wired for sound. Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt will be in an unmarked van in the parking lot broadcasting the answers to her.

    Comment by Bruce — September 21, 2008 @ 12:13 am | Reply

  5. I absolutely love the fact that Gwen Ifill will be moderating the VP debates, shes straight forward, fair and a real journalist.

    Comment by sensico — September 21, 2008 @ 10:28 am | Reply

  6. no wonderful McCain wants to postpone his debate with Obama, and have it rescheduled at the intended time for the VP debate. He’s trying to get out of having Palin debate Biden because he knows that she’ll go down in flames.

    Comment by Lillian Townsend — September 25, 2008 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  7. Please ask the important questions at the VP Debate!

    Comment by FLAMom — September 25, 2008 @ 10:42 pm | Reply

  8. Don’t allow the candidates to have access to questions before the debates. We want to know what they know, not what they have been coached to say.

    Comment by Roberta Marquis — September 26, 2008 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

  9. I find this very disturbing.
    The debate shouldn’t be altered to assist
    Palin – the purpose of the debate is to help
    the public make an informed decision about who is
    is or IS NOT competent.

    Comment by Melissa — September 29, 2008 @ 11:00 am | Reply

  10. Sarah Palin is a Master Debater. One look at the picture on this site, and you’ll see what I mean.

    I’m Pullin’ For Palin – The Unofficial Tribute To Our Future VPILF

    Comment by First Dude — September 29, 2008 @ 5:55 pm | Reply

  11. I am from the UK, have been here since 1965. The people overseas are appalled that anyone could be stupid enough to choose someone like Sara Palin for VP slot. She is completely unsuited for the job, does not have the knowledge or experience it takes to do the job. God forbid if Senator McCain were elected and something were to happen to him, then Ms. Palin would be President.

    I was insulted when McCain first chose her thinking that people would be more inclined to vote for him because he picked a woman. I, for one, will vote for the best possible candidate, regardless of sex, age, ethnicity or any other extraneous factor. Senator McCain should concede that he has made a huge mistake and replace her, preferably with someone with a modicum of intelligence.

    Comment by catkotrosa — September 29, 2008 @ 8:42 pm | Reply

  12. Catkotrosa – I agree. This is not a popularity contest, this is an important job. What will Palin do if McCain drops dead – call in her witch doctor for guidance??? Crazy!


    Comment by Paulette — September 29, 2008 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

  13. First Dude – you’re a dirty dude! 🙂

    Comment by Paulette — September 29, 2008 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  14. If a person can’t debate, how can they possibly expect to bear the responsibilities of the vice presidency, let alone a potential presidency? It’s just that simple. The hyper-engineering of the McCain campaign exceeds the ridiculous. We’re in really bad shape. It would be funny if it weren’t true, but it is.

    Comment by Jesse Waite — September 30, 2008 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  15. I agree Jesse. If you cannot debate ONE person how will Palin debate 100 senators on issues if she has to break a tie in the senate? Absurd!

    Comment by Paulette — September 30, 2008 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

  16. I’m in Britain looking in from the outside, so I can just have fun with this. And by the sound of things the VP debate will be a lot more fun than the first Presidential debate; it could hardly be less fun. I wonder how Sarah Palin would save Wall Street from going down the tubes.
    It’ll be live on the radio here, but wish me luck staying awake. Because of the time difference it will start at 2.00 a.m. UK time!

    Comment by geoffreyking — September 30, 2008 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

  17. i m dying to see this one!

    Comment by compulsivewriter — October 1, 2008 @ 6:42 am | Reply

  18. This is great, and I can’t wait to see the debate and then the coverage. I know the debating is suppose to show us what the candidates are made of, but so much of this is circus. Personally, I wouldn’t mind less professionalism and more sencerity in politics. I’m not “pulling for Palin,” but she has injected more life into the whole process than others. I find it incredibly interesting how people respond to her and defend her, attach her and laugh at her. For some reason she reminds me of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

    And if she has a BA in Journalism, has debated before, been experienced, why on earth was she so flustered at the interviews. Overcoached maybe? McCain has gotten so stiff too. My impression is that they don’t take challenging well and have lived too insular political worlds, surrounded by people cut from the same cloth.

    Comment by Dawn Dickson — October 2, 2008 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  19. I am an American peace activist here in the West Bank, Palestine. How much I’d love to hear the Vice Presidential debate but have no access to that possibility…6 hours difference. I shall RUN to the internet in the morning….I am surely hoping for Biden.

    Comment by Paulette — October 2, 2008 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  20. You put together such comprehensive posts. I really appreciate them. We are long overdue for a woman in the White House, but not Palin. We need a woman who can kick some bootie, and not ask for special treatment.

    McCain camp is floundering.

    Comment by Bell — October 2, 2008 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  21. Bell, I agree. I am dying to see a woman in the White House but no way, no how should it be Palin.

    This year we had Clinton and Palin – two women in one year. I think our time is coming REAL soon!

    Thanks for the comp. I try to be short and sweet as much as I can since everyone is so busy!

    Comment by Paulette — October 2, 2008 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

  22. In the VP debate, Palin seemed to treat the election as some kind of game. I was shocked that she could reduce this critical election to something so light hearted. She reminds me too much of George W. Bush!

    Comment by J Robbins — October 2, 2008 @ 10:45 pm | Reply

  23. Palin certainly beat expectations but everything she said seemed overly memorized. Biden rocked it for sure. Here’s the ‘firsts’ from the debate:


    Comment by tortuca — October 3, 2008 @ 12:24 am | Reply

  24. Its kind of funny that if McCain really wanted
    to win this election, you’ll think he could’ve pick
    picked a better VP. McCain isn’t as smart as
    people think he is. He says that he has
    experience with politics and the White House,
    Our country has been goin under for a while now,
    So what kind of experience would he have that
    could possibly help our country. It really
    burns me up inside seeing people not being
    able to get to work on time because their out
    of gas. Parents not being able to take their
    kids to the doctor because they dont have health
    insurance. As far as I can see, McCain isnt
    aware of the slump that The United States is in.
    What could a wealthy man whose never had to
    suffer in his life, possibly know what were
    going through.

    Comment by KVC — October 3, 2008 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

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