Palin to Biden: Bring it on!

Jake Turcotte

It wasn't the trash-talking you see before a football game, but Sarah Palin showed some spunk today at a rally in Ohio.

With a new poll showing Barack Obama the decisive winner in the first presidential debate, all eyes are on Thursday night's vice presidential debate.

Let's just move forward

After a week that provided plenty of fodder for Saturday Night Live material, the Republican nominee for vice president was a crowd pleaser today and seemed eager to talk about the upcoming debate.

"I guess it's my turn now," she said. "And I do look forward to Thursday night."

"I'm looking forward to meeting him," she continued. "I've never met him. I've been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, the second grade."

Lower expectations?

She did the pre-debate spin, too, as in lowering expectations (although many GOP strategists have said after last week it's impossible to lower expectations any further).

“I have to admit though, he is a great debater and looks pretty doggone confident like he's sure he's gonna win, but then again, this is the same Senator Biden who said the other day that the University of Delaware would trounce the Ohio State Buckeyes. Wrong!”

Palin was referring to a comment Biden made a couple weeks ago when speaking to the University of Delaware football team. Holding a football, Biden announced, "I told the folks in Ohio that we’d kick Ohio State’s ass!"

They tried, but the McCain team could never get any traction on Biden's prediction. It was just Biden being Biden. He says stuff like that.

Real Palin

Palin says stuff, too, like "doggone" and "awesome." And she calls her husband the "First Dude."

That's the Sarah Palin who can get John McCain elected, say some conservatives. Let her be herself. Knock off the spin. Let her get mad, they say, and fight her own fight.

Get real, Sarah!

New York Times columnist Bill Kristol amplified this call for a "real" Sarah Palin today, writing, "McCain picked Sarah Palin in part because she's a talented politician and communicator. He needs to free her to use her political talents and to communicate in her own voice."

Kristol said McCain was reportedly unhappy with his staff's "handling of Palin," sending campaign honchos Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis to Ohio to "liberate Palin to go on the offensive as a combative conservative."

I told you so

This isn't a new call. US News and World Report's John Farrell said the same thing nearly two weeks ago.

"The worst thing the McCain folks could do is wreck Palin's confidence," he wrote.  "She needs to be herself—and on her game—in the upcoming vice-presidential debate, not cowed and uncertain and brutalized by weeks of cramming and prep sessions."

With only three nights to go before the biggest moment yet in Palin's political life, Farrell could say, "I told you so."

Ignore her

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane told The Vote that Biden needs to look past Palin and focus his efforts on communicating with the American people who will be tuning in on Thursday night.

"His goal is to ignore Palin and focus on connecting with voters sitting in their living rooms by making clear he is indeed one of them - an uncommon, common man," Lehane said.

What about his reputation as gaffe-prone?  A fumble is OK -- its only the context that matters said Lehane.

"He can discuss campaign ads or whether or not conducted his fire side chats by radio or tv, but so long as the gaffes do not make the Democratic ticket look patronizing, elitist or arrogant than any such gaffes will have the lasting impact of cotton candy," he said.

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