2217 That winds up tonight's live event. The next presidential debate is on Tuesday in Tennessee, where Obama and McCain will be seated on stools and free to roam the stage as they take questions from undecided voters. We'll be covering that live again and hope you can join us.
The Washington Monthly: For anyone who cares about susbtance, it
wasn't close. Palin just kept repeating lies and nonsense, regardless
of the question, and regardless of common sense. On point after point,
Biden just out classed her. The two really didn't belong on the same
michellemalkin.com: Five weeks on the campaign trail, thrust onto
the national stage, she rocked tonight's debate. She was warm, fresh,
funny, confident, energetic, personable, relentless, and on message...
McCain has not done many things right. But Sarah Palin proved tonight
that the VP risk he took was worth it.
2210 Palin also reprised Ronald Reagan's famous put-down during his 1980 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, when she told Biden: "There you go again."
2206 Palin's performance tonight may silence critics who suggest she is fit only for the stage at Wasilla Town Hall. Her "betchas", "doggones" and "darnits" will no doubt have played well with many voters. But has she done enough to reverse the Republican ticket's recent move south in polls?
Think Progress: Palin was clearly operating with a game plan that
involved simply refusing to answer certain questions in order to drift
over to her pre-prepared text, and Ifill didn't ask any followups or
challenge either candidate to address the questions she was
Michael Sheridan, Middlebury, VA, US: Biden won in terms of actually knowing something. Palin won in terms of style by looking at the camera, being relentlessly folksy with a bit of a bubbly smile in her voice. Biden was often boring. This is about charisma vs. substance.
Joe Biden won this debate, Palin did all the winking and avoided
questions that she did not know and all that slang did not help
2201 Some are saying expectations for Palin were so low that she scored a victory tonight simply by not being drubbed or falling off the air.
2200 BBC World News America anchor Matt Frei: The pit-bull with lipstick, as she describes herself, did as vice-presidential candidates are meant to do, she bit and bit back, albeit with a smile on her face.
Adam, Westport, US : Palin was almost over-friendly, but it felt like a local parent trying to talk to the entire country about its problems- not a supposed expert who will be helping to shape the future of the country! I found that Biden seemed a bit too desperate, and tried to blame just about anything he could on McCain or the Bush Administration.
Very glad that Palin did a fantastic job of not goofing this debate
up. Looks like a good choice again for VP. Way to go Palin.
2158 The BBC's Katty Kay says Palin has put in a strong performance, but hasn't done enough to make this debate the game-changer McCain needed.
2155BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Biden did better tonight, no serious person could deny that he avoided some of the big pitfalls (sexism and bloviating) and scored some bit hits. I thought perhaps that she came over as slightly more amiable - talking about her inclusive family with a variety of views - than she has in the past and that might help her.
But although she can memorise things, she plainly does not know them. Does that matter?
At the end she looks like his daughter, but what is going on with her voice? It cuts glass.
2154 Wonder how tonight's TV viewing figures will compare with the 57 million Americans who tuned in to the 1984 Bush Snr v Ferraro debate, the most watched veep debate ever.
Politico.com: …if the central worry was that she'd be a drag on
the ticket, she likely returned herself to the same status as Biden
and every other running mate in memory: Not, ultimately, a major
factor at the polls.
Simon, High Wycombe, UK: Pretty even really, Biden had a better grasp of the facts, Palin put them more charismatically. I felt Palin made a better job of her support of McCain, whereas Biden didn't do quite the same for Obama.
2148 So fly-fishing fan Biden didn't reel himself in a Barracuda (Palin's nickname). His strategy seemed to be about making the case for Obama and against McCain, rather than against Palin. Nor did NRA member Palin have Biden much in the crosshairs. She also focused her attacks on the opposing top-end of the ticket.
joshuawhite tweets:I think biden was at the top of his game, and palin did well
2141 Who connected most with the watching voters? Few can match Biden's folksy aw shucks manner, and he had an emotional moment as he talked about his family. But Palin was as ever highly telegenic and showcased her breezy, homespun style. As expected, she casted herself as a lip-sticked insurgent against the Good Ol' Boys' network.
Andrew Sullivan, The
Atlantic blog, The Daily Dish: I began this debate feeling that
she was steam-rolling him. She was. But it was a steam-roller coming
at you on fumes, not real fuel. She doesn't have it. Maybe one day she
might. But not now.
2139 As fast-moving as a NASCAR race, a nail-biting 90 minutes, but did it turn out to be car crash television for watching strategists from either campaign? The immediate reaction from pundits is there did not appear to be any knockout blows or major gaffes from either running mate.
2138 Who stole the show tonight? For me it was Biden's teeth. He possesses a truly incandescent set of pearly whites. Full marks to his dentist.
2135 On stage Biden is joined by wife Jill and children. Also on stage, Palin is joined by her husband Todd and some of their children. The families mingle.
Julian, Lima, Peru: Biden's been advised well. Avoid direct confrontation with Palin, answer questions directly to the chair and concentrate on the failings of the current administration; in effect, hardly acknowledge that the lightweight across the debating floor is even in the room, let alone the debate.
Ben Opray, Nagoya, Japan : She at least comes across as human. She actually shows how she represents change. She does not appear as a rigid politician where you often know what they say before they speak.
2133 It's over, the running mates shake hands, Palin says to McCain: "Thank you so much."
2132 Biden's closing statement: Look folks, this is most important election you've ever voted for in your life. Obama and I won't measure progress in America on how well CEOs are doing, we measure it by ordinary Americans ability to pay their mortgage, if soldiers returning from war can get best healthcare and education possible for their children.
Think Progress: I have some disagreements on national security
issues with Biden, but he's clearly able to express totally genuine
opinions on issues he's spent time thinking about. Palin, by contrast,
is mechanistically reciting talking points.
2130 Closing statement: Palin says she would like chance to debate more speaking directly to voters without the filter of mainstream media. McCain and I are going to fight for mainstream America. I've always been proud to be an American and so has John McCain.
2129BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Biden has done us at least one service tonight anyway -- he is off on a "McCain is no maverick" attack. Much better at it than Obama.
2128 Biden says if McCain were here he would acknowledge Biden's record of working across the aisle.
Katharine Q. Seelye,
New York Times The Caucus: Ms. Palin is the one who sounds
slightly condescending, saying she respects Mr. Biden's support for
Israel. (Remember, the pre-debate commentators said Mr. Biden was the
one who had to be careful about appearing
2125BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Biden almost cries talking about his awful tragic past. Did he plan this? I wonder… "We have got to win the war," she says, before embarking on another rant. ANSWER THE QUESTION.
2124 Biden: McCain is no maverick, he voted four out of five times for Bush's budgets, he has been no maverick on healthcare or on any issue helping Americans on kitchen table issues.
Raul, Tijuana, Mexico: Where is Latin America on this debate?
2123 Palin: These are tumultuous times, we've got to win the wars, we've got to get our economy back on track and end partisanship. Change is coming.
2122BBC North America editor Justin Webb: What is your Achilles heel? Palin says she does not have one. She is off on another memorized rant - "shining city on a hill etc". He is as bad. Oh dear. Someone interrupt them!
2121 Now Biden's feeling Main Street's pain, recounting his hard-scrabble upbringing in Pennsylvania, and his hard-luck life story (his wife and infant daughter died in a car accident shortly after he was first elected to the Senate in 1972). Did Biden just choke back tears?!
tweets: Palin is intelligent and well spoken. Sorry, feminazis
and left wing liberals you tried to destroy her and
2120 Palin says she has lots of executive experience as governor of a huge energy-producing state, tries to show she feels Joe Six Pack's pain by saying her family once struggled without health insurance, mentions she is a mother of special needs child.
2117 Biden raises a laugh as he shares his views on vice-presidency, saying Dick Cheney has been most dangerous vice-president in American history.
2116BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Wow - Biden says he would do everything Obama would do, but she veers off and makes it plain she and McCain disagree and she and he are happy with that. This is a positive:- she sounds much more like a proper politician. But also a negative as it draws attention to the fact that she might become president.
2115 Biden: I don't know any government programme on education that McCain supports.
2113 Palin on education: No child should be left behind, we need flexibility, more emphasis on the profession.
Marc Ambinder, The
Atlantic: Palin gets the name of the commander general in
Afghanistan wrong: he's McKiernan, not McClellan. She does not know
who he is, clearly.
2111 You'd never have guessed, but Palin also says that if she took over from McCain, she would continue his policies.
I am disappointed in Biden. Not being a finisher.
2109 Moderator asks how would a Biden presidency be different from Obama presidency? Not surprisingly, Biden replies that he would pursue Obama's policies.
2108 Palin: John McCain knows how to win a war, he's been there and he knows what evil is, he knows how to learn from the blunders we've seen.
2107BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Cute jab from her on the war - accusing Biden of being for the war before he was against it. Great line that - it still hurts Democrats. Where detailed knowledge is unnecessary she is sparkly and almost convincing.
2106 Palin has been trying to make a virtue of her perceived inexperience, playing the Washington outsider card that Obama used so deftly in the early stages of his campaign. She is attempting to make a vice of Biden's experience by portraying him as the Beltway status quo.
2105BBC North America editor Justin Webb: She comes back for the first time - on Afghanistan - with a decent answer. She challenges his interpretation of what the general said about the idea of a surge in Afghanistan. Biden looks surprised.
2104 Palin accuses Biden of a flip-flop, noting that Biden voted in 2002 for the US invasion of Iraq, and then became a war critic not long after the following year's conflict began.
NU-clear, it's pronounced NU-clear - aw Jesus, not another
2103 Biden claims credit for backing intervention in Bosnia, which he says McCain opposed. He says US can lead Nato and impose no-fly zone in Darfur and stop genocide. Biden: "We should rally the world to act."
Louise, Sydney, Australia: Biden made the correct statement that the area to concentrate on is Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is where the terrorists are, these are the problems areas to sort out. Palin talked about Israel and Iran. Very articulate fact based debate with little spin.
Andrew Sullivan, The
Atlantic blog, The Daily Dish: Biden is stylistically awful and
substantively dull. Palin has very little substance but is killing him
stylistically. And Biden sounds very liberal. He's throwing this
debate away so far.
2101BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Great riff from Biden on McCain being like Bush in various areas of foreign policy. She has no answer. Literally.
2100 Biden's time is almost up again, he may seem a bit long-winded.
2058 Biden: With Afghanistan facts matter. Our commanding general in Afghanistan said today surge alone won't work in that country.
2056BBC North America editor Justin Webb: She has made no mistakes except that she doesn't appear to know much about anything. Is this a problem? Biden is off again on the Middle East - but Joe, there is such a thing as too much detail. Gaza, Lebanon, Hamas, West Bank, East Bank (only kidding).
Biden's first noisy sigh of the evening, hope it was his
2055 Biden's hammering home the Obama campaign message, linking McCain squarely with the policies of Bush.
Marc Schulz, Delitzsch, Germany: Joe Biden kills the debate. His debating style borders on boredom. His impassionate act is turning my eyes in sleep mode. I'm only awakened every time by Sarah Palin's fresh kind of debating.
2054 Biden: This administration's policy in the Middle East has been an abject failure. We opposed Bush administration's push for elections in Gaza that legitimised Hamas. Palin: It's good to know that we both love Israel.
palin's only winning to those who don't understand the
2052 Palin: We support a two-state solution in Middle East.
2051 Over the summer, the Bush administration made what was seen as a major tactical shift by sending Undersecretary of State William Burns to sit in on European-led talks with Iran, although it was not a bilateral discussion.
2051 Biden strafes McCain again, questioning his judgment on Iran. Biden says after years of denial even the Bush administration is being swayed by Obama's argument that Washington should talk to Tehran.
2049 Palin repeats McCain attack last week that Obama is prepared to meet leaders of Iran and North Korea without preconditions. She says: "These dictators hate America, our tolerance, our respect for women's rights, Obama's stance is beyond bad judgment."
2047 Biden: Central front on terror is on Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where Osama Bin Laden lives, not Iraq, as McCain believes.
2046BBC North America editor Justin Webb: He really has destroyed her on the war. She has slogans. He can talk about it.
2046 Biden: McCain was wrong when he said we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq, that Sunnis and Shias get on with each other, that there would be enough oil to pay for this war. He says McCain has been dead wrong on Iraq, Obama has been right, they are the facts.
Katharine Q. Seelye,
New York Times blog, The Caucus: Half an hour in, Ms. Palin
appears to be a different person from the hesitant, ill-informed
interviewee who spoke to Katie Couric in several televised interviews.
She is barreling along, not skipping a beat, reciting facts and
figures, matching Mr. Biden point for point.
2044 Palin notes that as Obama's then rival for the Democratic nomination, Biden criticised the Illinois senator as "not ready" to be president and lacking in foreign policy judgment.
2041 Biden disputes the troop-funding allegation. For the political anoraks, here are the facts, as I understand them (Do keep up at the back!): Obama was one of 14 senators who voted in May 2007 against a troop-funding bill; he argued it should have set an Iraq pullout timetable. A month earlier he had instead voted for another version of the bill that provided troop funding but included an Iraq withdrawal timeline. McCain opposed this bill and urged President Bush to veto it once it passed.
2040 Palin repeats the Republican charge - labelled misleading by most analysts - that Obama voted against funding for US troops overseas. She notes Biden himself once criticised this. (During Biden's failed Democratic nomination run he said such votes amounted to "cutting off support that will save the lives of thousands of American troops".) And she notes that Obama opposed the Iraq troop surge.
2041BBC North America editor Justin Webb: No support for gay marriage from either candidate. She looks uncomfortable.
2040 Iraq now: Both vice-presidential candidates have sons serving in Iraq. Palin's 19-year-old soldier son, Track, deployed last month to Iraq. Biden's 39-year-old National Guardsman son Beau is also about to deploy to Iraq.
Erick Erickson, RedState.com: Dear God this woman is on fire! Ha! I mean she's really good tonight going back to the middle class
2039 Same-sex couples now. Biden says same-sex couples deserve same property rights and hospital visitation rights. Palin says she does not support redefining the traditional definition of marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman, but emphasises she is not intolerant of adults making their own lifestyle choices. Biden also says neither he nor Obama support gay marriage.
Paul, Edinburgh: Neither candidate has been exceptional. Palin seems to rely on "soccer mom" based rhetoric. Biden seems fairly stoic and even-keeled. He seems solid. She has a charm though, definite appeal to the conservative right.
2036 Did Obama's running mate just grow moose antlers?! Palin says Biden claimed drilling offshore was "raping the continental shelf". Palin notes Biden recently appeared to speak out against clean coal (the Obama campaign is in favour of it). Biden: I was talking about exporting that technlogy to China.
2035BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Biden says climate change is man made - yikes. Not sure there are votes in such certainty, but at least he knows what he thinks.
martymankins tweets: Gwen Ifill is doing a good job as moderator. Palin actually speaking well, even if its mostly talking points.
2034 I think climate change is man-made and if you don't understand the cause how can you find the solution? He says McCain has voted 20 times against funding alternative energy investment. McCain thinks the only answer is "Drill, drill, drill," says Biden.
2033BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Biden is waffling - but, oh dear, she is off again on energy, with no apology for failing even to nod at the question. She is off the reservation.
2032 Palin on climate change: Alaska sees the impact of global warming more than any other state. I'm not one to attribute all the changes in the planet to mankind, some changes are cyclical environmental.
2030BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Oh dear - we have John McCain to thank for too much of what Palin is saying, I suspect, for it to be entirely credible. She describes herself as a Main-Streeter. I wonder about that. You need to be connected to Main Street, but not necessarily from it to run for high office.
2030 Palin returns to energy and says US must become energy independent. She repeats McCain's line that America sends $700bn a year to countries hostile to the US. Analysts say this figure refers not to the US foreign aid budget (only about $39bn), but the amount Americans spend on foreign oil.
2029 Biden: Obama pointed out two years ago there was a sub-prime crisis coming, while McCain said as recently as last December he was surprised about the sub-prime crisis.
2027 Palin says we are in a "toxic mess on Main Street" and we must ensure credit markets don't seize up.
Radha Krishna, Malaysia: Both candidates are more bothered about taking aims at each other rather than substance. Your debate is watched by the millions worldwide hoping our economy outside the US, stock market, exports, jobs are not lost.
2026 Biden gives Palin credit for hitting oil firms with windfall taxes and says Obama wants to do the same, but adds McCain is opposed to this idea.
2025BBC North America editor Justin Webb: What promises have you made that you cannot keep? That is the question. It is almost surreal - neither of them even pretend to answer. Maybe Gwen is too busy writing her book to notice…
2024 Palin says she took on the oil companies in Alaska and broke up their monopoly. She says Obama voted for an energy plan that gave tax breaks to oil firms.
2023 Biden is living up to his reputation for going on too much, he notes the light is blinking and his time is up.
2021 Crowd laughs as Biden says: "I call that the ultimate bridge to nowhere" after claiming McCain will pay for $5,000 healthcare tax credit by taxing people through their employers, which will go straight to the insurance company.
Washington Post blog, The Fix tweets: "I may not answer the questions the way you or the moderator want to hear.."; Palin is driving the outsider image HARD.
2019 Palin says McCain's healthcare plan proposes a $5,000 tax credit, while Obama, she says, is proposing a government-mandated healthcare plan, an allegation most analysts say is misleading.
2017 "I may not answer the questions, but I want to talk straight to the American people," she says! And leaps into a prepared spiel. Gosh yes, let's ditch the questions…BBC North America editor Justin Webb:
Matt Maliaros, Brooklyn, US : Biden uses his information so efficiently it's hard to understand, while Palin just goes on and on about nothing.
2017 Biden says under McCain's tax proposals middle class families would not be a single dime better off. He says 95% of working people in America will get a tax break, under Obama. McCain wants to add $300bn of tax cuts per year for corporations, Biden claims.
aonsager tweets: Palin's awesome. Biden needs to stop bashing McCain and start answering these questions well.
2015 Palin says she has a record as a tax cutter.
2014 Palin: Obama voted 94 times against tax relief for cash-strapped American voters. "Absolutely not true," Biden replies. Biden says McCain let "Wall Street run wild."
Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo: 9:03 PM ... "Can I call you Joe." That was actually well done. Cosmetic, yes. But still good optics.
2012 Biden keeps up the attack on McCain, saying he is no sheriff of Wall Street. Middle classes need tax relief now, the focus will change with Barack Obama, Biden says.
2011BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Well done, Gwen! She points out they don't answer the questions - they giggle. So what.
2011 Palin pitches to Joe Six Pack and hockey mom voters and denounces "predator lenders". "Never again will we be taken advantage of," she says.
2010 Biden attacks McCain for being "out of touch" on economy, repeating his much-derided remark that fundamentals of American economy are sound. Palin responds that McCain meant the American worker. She says she is part of a team of mavericks and Obama has a partisan electoral voting record. She says Americans are craving something new.
2009BBC North America editor Justin Webb: Thanks to John McCain all is OK, Palin claims. She survives her first answer. Neither answers the question by the way, but apparently no-one cares about that.
amglasser tweets: Listening to Sarah Palin and getting nauseous. Can she put together a sentence that hasn't been scripted and rehearsed?
2007 On Wall Street bailout plan, Biden says Obama has insisted on oversight, focus on Main Street, treating taxpayers like investors and ensuring CEOs don't benefit. Biden says Obama will focus on middle classes, unlike McCain, who he says will focus on the wealthy and corporate America.
Bert Trautmann : The rules were more difficult in primary school debating class when I was 11.
2004 Palin walks on stage and says: "Nice to meet you, can I call you Joe?"
2003 Here's tonight's debate moderator, PBS anchor Gwen Ifill. There's been some controversy over her role as referee tonight in light of her forthcoming book about Obama and how politics has changed among black Americans since the civil rights era. Some conservative commentators have claimed her book means she is biased in favour of the Democratic nominee and therefore cannot be fair and balanced.
Michael H., Canada: I feel sorry for Biden. He has to debate against a female while not appearing sexist. Biden should aim his attacks at McCain. He should also be very careful not to "over-talk". Good luck!
2001 Obama campaign chief David Alexrod made what I thought was a valid point the other day: Vice-presidential nominees have a tougher time in these debates as they need to defend not only their own positions, but those of their running mate, and know where both candidates on the opposing ticket stand.
1958 Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, the only other women to have been a veep nominee in the US, famously accused Vice-President George H W Bush of patronising her during their debate in 1984. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Biden will be hoping to avoid looking like a know-it-all.
Donna, San Diego, US: I would like both candidates to clearly state how they will protect the working class in the midst of the bailouts. I had to give up my car when gas prices soared so I could keep making my house payments.
1955 Sixty-five-year-old Biden is a veteran political bare-knuckle fighter but he has reportedly been advised to guard against coming across like a condescending bully tonight. If he seems sexist it could cost the Obama campaign's attempts to woo the female vote.
Matthew Yglesias, Think Progress: have a very hard time imagining this debate actually being consequential in terms of determining the outcome of this election.
1954 McCain strategists might not be the only ones with heartburn over the next 90 minutes. YouTube is creaking with clips of off-the-cuff remarks by Biden - who has been branded a "gaffe machine". And his adventures off script in recent weeks have sent strategists tumbling from their bunks in the Obama camp.
pgerding tweets: Do I watch the VP debate? Oh the tension, oh the drama. I am a long-time admirer of Joe Biden. Yeah, he gaffs, but he is real.
1949 At first glance, it doesn't look good for Palin on paper. She has never debated on the national stage, while six-term senator Biden is a seasoned pro. He took part in a number of debates while chasing the Democratic nomination in the run-up to the 2008 primaries (before dropping out of the race in January). Biden has also done about 100 interviews since becoming Obama's running mate, while Palin has managed only several.
Douglas Johnston, New York: I'm optimistic about her performance as I strongly support the McCain/Palin ticket. But I must admit that her performance in some of the recent interviews were a bit less than stellar, to be kind.
1942 Cable TV networks have been asking in recent days whether McCain might dump Palin. The Arizona senator will no doubt be mindful that George McGovern's decision to jettison his Democratic running mate (Tom Eagleton) in 1972 marked the funeral rites for his presidential prospects.
pameladetlor tweets: Waiting for the VP debate. I hope Palin tanks - but Biden ain't the sharpest crayon in the box either. It's a toss up. Where's Hilary?!!! :(
1935 Palin became an overnight sensation when she erupted on to the national stage a month ago, but there have been signs her popularity is waning. She was pilloried for a recent moose-in-the-headlights TV interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, which triggered a merciless Saturday Night Live spoof. Even conservative commentators have begun to question her credentials. If she flops tonight she could become as toxic to McCain as real-estate investments to Wall Street.
MHackman tweets: Good luck Biden...you'll be needing it.
1930 Veep debates are said to have little impact on elections. Lloyd Bentsen may have memorably crushed Dan Quayle with the line "You're no Jack Kennedy" in 1988, but George H W Bush still trounced Michael Dukakis that year. However, this year there is huge interest in Palin, the moose-hunting hockey mom who looks straight from central casting. This critical debate presents her with an opportunity to hush those who say she is way out of her depth.
1919 Welcome to our live coverage of what is expected to be one of the most watched vice-presidential debates in history tonight at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, between Barack Obama's running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, and John McCain's number two, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Our coverage tonight will include insights from BBC North America editor Justin Webb, a selection of your e-mail rants and raves, as well as the best of the blogs.
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