Sarah Palin avoided a debate meltdown, and in that respect tonight was a positive evening for her. Biden, however, also avoided making gaffes, and he consistently made the case against John McCain.
That said, she lost the debate on points. It was obvious she was constantly referring to note cards for her talking points, and she blatantly avoided answering numerous questions. She landed some good punches, but she was unable to counter Biden’s most effective attacks against McCain, while Biden always had a response when she tried to attack Obama.
Her folksy manner seemed contrived, while Biden had the most compelling and authentic moment of the evening when he spoke about raising his two sons following the death of his wife and daughter. In that moment he took away her only potential advantage – her connection to average Americans.
Overall, this debate does not look like the game-changer that McCain needed given Obama’s current lead. Palin stopped the bleeding, but the initial polls have Biden winning the debate. She also made it clear that we shouldn’t hold our breath regarding future media interviews or news conferences for Sarah Palin.
Joe Biden has been a gaffe machine over the past several days. He said he didn’t approve of one of Obama’s ads about John McCain, and he jumped the gun saying that the government shouldn’t bail out AIG.
Fortunately, Biden has rebounded impressively this morning, with a powerful speech on foreign policy. He delivered a blistering attack on John McCain’s foreign policy positions while providing a very persuasive argument for a new approach under a Barack Obama administration. More importantly, he attacked McCain’s judgement, explaining how McCain’s bluster is counterproductive. He also ripped Bush and McCain for ignoring al Qaeda and Afghanistan. We must find and kill Bin Laden, and Biden made that absolutely clear.
The themes in this speech were clear and powerful. I suspect Obama will be repeating all these themes on Friday in the first presidential debate.
The Obama campaign has been aggressively targeting Florida, but many have been skeptical as to whether Obama has a legitimate shot at that state.
I was surprised when I heard over the weekend that Hillary’s first appearance after the convention would be in Florida. After looking at the issue more closely, the campaign’s optimism regarding Florida makes much more sense.
First, the Joe Biden selection was as much about Florida as any other state, including Pennsylvania. Biden has huge support in the Jewish community, particularly with older Jewish voters, due to his long history as a supporter of Israel in the Senate. I always knew Biden was popular with older voters, but I didn’t realize how much support he had in the Jewish community. The fact the the Obama campaign immediately sent Biden to Florida after he was selected as Obama’s running mate underscores the point.
Koch is a member of a set of secular, swing-voting Jewish Democrats who may have been pushed away by the selection of Palin, and his endorsement may be a marker of an opportunity for Obama to strengthen his campaign among older Jewish voters in Florida.
Koch is still very influential in the Jewish community, and he indicated a willingness to campaign for Obama in Florida.
The stories about the Jews for Jesus speaker at Palin’s church will not help McCain’s campaign with Jewish voters. The speaker suggested that attacks on Israel represented punishment from God.
Voter registration numbers also favor Obama in Florida.
Democrats also have done a better job of registering voters. In the first seven months of the year, Democrats increased their numbers by nearly 253,000, compared with slightly more than 98,000 more Republicans. Overall, Florida has about 4.4 million Democrats, 3.9 million Republicans and 2.3 million voters who aren’t registered with either party.
The Democrats estimates about 600,000 registered black voters stayed home in 2004, more than Bush’s margin of victory in the state. And nearly 600,000 black Floridians aren’t registered to vote.
Finally, the issue of social security will be huge. John McCain supported Bush’s efforts to privatize the program, and the Obama campaign will likely hammer McCain on this issue in the state as well.
For all these reasons, it’s not surprising to see Rasmussen’s poll yesterday that showed a dead heat in Florida.
With 27 electoral votes, a win by Obama in Florida would practically seal the election for Obama. McCain has not spent much at all in the state, so perhaps things will change once McCain starts running ads, but the Obama campaign has reason for optimism.
Joe Biden took some good shots at McCain, and overall the speech was pretty good. Frankly I was hoping for a little more. He’s just not as polished as the Clintons, and he could have drawn better distinctions. That said, he introduced some powerful themes about John McCain’s lack of judgement on national security. The delivery could have been better, but he made some strong points.
The best part of the speech was his authenticity and sincerity. Biden is a regular Joe with an inspiring family story, and that came across in the speech. He demonstrated how deeply he cares about the issues at hand.
Having Obama join him onstage was a great idea. Obama and Biden look very comfortable together.
OBAMA/BIDEN CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCES ‘ON THE ROAD TO CHANGE’ BATTLEGROUND STATE BUS TOUR — Tour Through PA, OH, and MI will be First Joint Bus Tour For Democratic Nominees — Today, the Obama campaign announced that United States Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden will kick off a battleground state tour dubbed “On the Road to Change” following the Democratic National Convention. Senator Obama, Senator Joe Biden, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will depart Denver Friday for Pennsylvania, the first stop on the bus tour. The “On the Road to Change” tour will make stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, and will mark Obama and Biden’s first campaign tour as the Democratic nominees. Obama and Biden will meet with voters to discuss America’s economic challenges and the Obama/Biden blueprint for change.
I was hoping they would do something like this. They need to lock up Pennslyvania, and they need to work hard to keep Michigan and flip Ohio. Biden was picked to help Obama with blue-collar voters, and this joint trip will help re-introduce Obama to those voters.
I think Josh has been getting a little too worried about the tightening of the race, but he makes a great point in this post.
Don’t ever demand someone stop attacking you. Doesn’t work. Don’t do it. Sounds weak. Sounds pathetic. And a lot else.
He’s right. Obama went after McCain today for attacking his patriotism, but he’s doing it the wrong way. He should be mocking McCain, the way he mocked Hillary in the primary campaign. He should be mocking McCain’s desperation – it’s sad to see a man of McCain’s starure and reputation sinking so low.
Jim Geraghty has a long list of comments made by Joe Biden over the years about John McCain, Barack Obama and the Iraq War.
The comments about McCain are not a problem. In fact, they give Biden more credibility when he levies the harsh attack that McCain has sold out all his old principles for the purpose of trying to get elected. He can say things like: “I don’t recognize this John McCain.” It will be effective because McCain has in fact turned his back on many of the positions that made him a “maverick” in the past.
As for the statements about Obama, none of those are very bad, and Biden can easily brush those off.
The toughest ones involve Iraq. He was behind the war, and he was against pulling out. He will have to explain those statements. Now, he’s come a long way, and he knows so much about the situation in IIrag and Afghanistan that he can turn any conversation to the mess the Bush administration made, but this will be the toughest area for him in light of Obama’s hard position against the war.
That said, his overall experience should help Obama with voters who worry about Obama’s lack of experience, and he’s the perfect attack dog against the ongoing attacks from the McCain camp. He would be a good choice.