Palin plays up Washington outsider image

Sarah Palin delivered a folksy, only occasionally tangled, verbal barrage in last night's widely anticipated vice presidential debate in St Louis relentlessly promoting herself as a gutsy Washington outsider more in tune with the American heartland than her Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.

In a high-octane, galloping exchange that never lagged in all of its 90 minutes, Mrs Palin, who came into the hall at Washington University the underdog, avoided any glaring spills and gaffes even if she frequently ducked questions and at times became repetitive as if rehearsing pre-memorised talking points.

"I think we need a little reality from Wasilla Main Street brought to Washington," she said, alluding to the Alaska town where she was once mayor. As she peppered her answers with down-home argot, there were as many winks to camera as there were hecks, dontchas and darn rights. Nor did she forget to mention Joe Six Pack and America's hockey mums.

Her relative assurance on the stage relieved Mr Biden of one problem – appearing to patronise or club his opponent. But the six-term Senator from Delaware was barely deflected by her whirlwind word-flow, firmly taking issue with her claims that she and John McCain could bring change to Washington and scorning the insistent branding of Mr McCain as a maverick.

"Maverick he is not," Mr Biden insisted. "He has not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affect people as they sit around the kitchen table."

The clash was high entertainment that will have drawn record television ratings for a debate between second-players on presidential tickets. It may do little to alter the course of the race which recently has veered clearly in favour of the Democrats. For Ms Palin, though, it should stop the bleeding.

The difference between the two contenders was clear. While Mr Biden displayed an easy command of the issues, ranging from the economy, public health and foreign policy, he veered sometimes into tedious territory of endlessly recounting past votes cast by Mr McCain. Ms Palin often eschewed going into deep substance, showed off the populist touch that had already endeared her to conservative voters. She freely admitted that if she was not be responding to questions the way the moderator, Gwen Ifill, a television anchor for Public Broadcasting, or indeed Mr Biden would like.

"Biden won more points, but Palin won more hearts," concluded Mike McCurry, a former spokesman for President Bill Clinton.

Exchanges on the conduct of the war in Iraq carried an unusual poignancy – while Ms Palin's oldest son, Track, was recently deployed to served in the war, Mr Biden rushed home to Delaware last night to be there in time to bid farewell to his son, Beau, he leaves for Iraq today.

Most of the attacks launched in St Louis were less against each other than against the top of each other's tickets. Ms Palin said that Mr Obama had voted against funding the troops in Iraq and added that Mr Biden had crticised him for it. Mr Biden countered that Mr McCain had been "dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war."

In a red-blood moment, Ms Palin said that Mr Obama's insistence on a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq amounted to waving the "white flag of surrender". At one moment, however, Mrs Palin conceded there had been "huge blunders throughout this administration," possibly giving aides watching the debate on television sudden palpitations. It was a potential gift to Mr Biden that he did not take up.

On the economy, which has now become so central to the last four weeks of the race, Ms Palin scorned the notion of wealth distribution, charging that Mr Obama, with his promise to raise taxes on the rich, was seeking to reignite class warfare in America. It brought at tart response from Mr Biden, however. "Where I come from, it's called fairness, just simple fairness," he said.It was Mrs Palin's repeated reaching into the front-room chattiness, however, that may linger longest with viewers. She may have hit her best aw-shucks note when speaking of her brother in Alaska is a teacher, saying that his students would be getting "extra credits" for watching the debate.









Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before