Page last updated at 03:45 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 04:45 UK

Biden-Palin debate: gaffe potential?

The televised vice-presidential debate between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Sarah Palin was the only time the two will meet face-to-face in this campaign.

Here we gather some of the comments they have made in the past that invited ridicule or incredulity among commentators and the public.

Senator Joe Biden in 1987
Joe Biden dropped his first White House bid after plagiarising a speech

  • Asked by CBS presenter Katie Couric on 22 September about plans to rescue the US financial system, Mr Biden said: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened'." Observers were quick to point out that the US president at the time of the 1929 stock market crash was Herbert Hoover and that there were no TV sets yet in American homes. FDR did speak to the nation on radio in a "fireside chat" when he took office in 1933.
  • In February 2007, Mr Biden commented on Mr Obama - at that point a rival for the Democratic nomination - saying: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, I mean, that's a storybook, man."
  • Responding to a voter who disliked Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire last month, Mr Biden said: "Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice-president of the United States of America... She's easily qualified to be vice-president of the United States of America and, quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me, but she is first-rate."
  • In 2006, Mr Biden faced criticism over a video clip of him saying: "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." His office later said he admired the growing Indian-American community in the state of Delaware and was talking about how new families were benefiting the local economy by taking over small businesses.
  • Arguably his most famous blunder came during Mr Biden's first run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1987, when he plagiarised without attribution a speech UK Labour leader Neil Kinnock had given a few months earlier. He lost credibility and his campaign imploded.

Governor Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin's performance in TV interviews has been criticised

  • Asked repeatedly in a TV interview by CBS's Katie Couric to give examples of John McCain supporting financial regulation, Mrs Palin eventually said: "I'll try to find some and bring them to you."
  • In the same CBS interview, Mrs Palin was asked how Alaska's proximity to Russia boosted her foreign policy credentials. She replied: "We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state."
  • When asked why she was not more accessible to reporters, amid complaints from the media that the McCain campaign was keeping her under wraps, Mrs Palin said: "I am so happy to talk to reporters. My life is an open book, happy to do it and very happy for more opportunities to do so."
  • Before she became the vice-president nominee, when asked in an interview for CNBC in July about that possibility Mrs Palin said: "As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?"
  • Speaking to graduating students at her former Wasilla Assembly of God Church in June, Mrs Palin suggested a natural gas pipeline project had divine backing. "I can do my part in doing things like working really, really hard to get a natural gas pipeline, about a $30bn project that's going to create a lot of jobs for Alaskans and we'll have a lot of energy flowing through here. And pray about that also. I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas pipeline built, so pray for that."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific