Tonight's Vice Presidential debate may see both candidates taking a cautious approach. UW Madison political scientist Charles Franklin says Delaware Senator Joe Biden is unlikely to take the gloves off, despite his vast experience edge over Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. “I think, from the Democrats' point of view, they would rather see Palin get herself in trouble, rather than have Biden seeming to attack her” says Franklin.
As for Palin, UW Stevens Point political scientist Ed Miller says expectations have clearly been lowered. “It's a recognition that she does not have the experience, and the knowledge,” says Miller. “They're not expecting her to give nearly as in depth answers as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
Franklin says the debate could be crippling for Palin is she messes up badly, while Biden could be seen to lose only if he flubs some answers. The debate is tonight in St. Louis. Miller also expects that Biden will not attack Palin directly, even on her relative lack of experience. “He probably more likely will attack the policies of the Bush administration, and say that those policies will be ones that will be followed by McCain, and let her defend those particular policies” says Miller.
“The fact that Biden has gotten in trouble with things that he's said in the past, is likely to make Biden less aggressive in the debate than he might otherwise be,” suggests Franklin. “The only way Biden can seriously lose the debate is if he flubs some answers.” Palin may be able to hold her own, by showing some knowledge of international affairs, according to Miller. Even knowing the names of foreign leaders could count in Palin's favor, says Miller. “My guess is she's been prompted on that matter.”