Candidates Face Off in VP Debates

Erin Ennis

Every four years in October, the presidential candidates gather to debate the topics that many deem to be the most influential to the coming year. Every four years, the vice presidents also gather-for only one debate-to back their running mates and to establish themselves as politicians and presidential backups. Every year the vice presidential debates go smoothly and, essentially, unmentioned.
However, this year was different. For the first time since the Bush/Gore elections, the presidential race seems almost neck and neck in the poles. For the first time, the vice presidential nominees are acting as the swing vote for young voters.

The debates started off simply enough, with questions focused on the economic crisis and taxation plans. Senator Joe Biden, the running mate of democratic nominee Barack Obama, mentioned the taxation plans they have to limit increases on the standard American family and only tax those that make above $250,000 a year.

Governor Sarah Palin, the running mate of republican nominee John McCain, talked about the importance to weed out the greed and corruption in Wall Street and deregulate big spending. Both stressed the need to fix the financial situation, although it seemed like Biden actually presented solutions while Palin merely spoke of the warning messages that McCain had given beforehand.

The candidates then spoke about foreign policy and America’s role in interventions, nuclear weapons, and genocide conflicts. CNN polls showed that Americans favored both Biden and Palin as they analyzed and critiqued the current handlings of foreign policy. Palin offered hope for American aid in Israel and Biden promised change in Darfur and a timeline for troop withdrawal.
The candidates also debated on issues of same-sex marriage, global warming, and the definitive role of the Vice President. Each side offered up different opinions and created some of the most memorable speeches of the debate. Governor Sarah Palin wowed audiences as she referred to the average American as “Joe Six Pack” and called Senator Biden and Senator Obama out for their wavering truths about policies. Biden shot down the notion that John McCain is a maverick (catch the Tom Cruise reference?) and reached out to Americans with family in the war.

Of course, every debate is not without its rough spots. Biden occasionally got tongue tied and Palin seemed unlikely to actually answer a question without skipping back to an old idea. Biden poked fun at Palin’s homely Alaskan roots with a mention of the bridge to nowhere and Palin brought about one of the most emotional moments of the debate by suggesting the Biden was unaware of what being a single parent was like.

Despite her lack of experience and his ability to be standoffish, the vice presidential debate proved to be better than expected. While many polls are showing Senator Joe Biden to be the winner, many believe that Governor Sarah Palin held her own and will make a formidable opponent in the next month. Tune in for the next set of debates, and head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4 to support your candidate.