Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and US Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware sparred over both domestic and foreign policy on Thursday night in this 2008 election season's first and only vice-presidential debate.
In a format that allowed just two minute responses from the questions posed by debate moderator Gwen Ifill of PBS, issues of economy, the financial sector, healthcare, energy independence, the war on Iraq and future US foreign policy dominated the discussion.
Governor Palin's experience and preparedness had fallen under fire in recent weeks, after she gave several interviews in which she was perceived as awkward when discussing issues like the recent financial crisis and US-Russia relations, and many political pundits predicted that Senator Biden would score a comfortable victory.
But though the Senator demonstrated sound command of policies and flexed his 36 years of experience in the US Senate, Gover Palin held her own by sticking to the McCain campaign's party platform and by exuding a sort of folksy charm that likely resonated with much of Main Street America.
Senator Biden will likely be interpreted as having won the discussions on policy minutiae, because Governor Palin often refused to directly answer questions and gave responses that seemed canned. But she clearly exceeded expectations and flashed genuine political skill, by hitching herself to the American middle class and showing a connection to the 'common man'.
Text: Matthew Schneeberger
Image: US vice presidential nominees Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat Joe Biden during the vice presidential debate on Thursday in St Louis, Missouri.
Photographs: Don Emmerty/AFP/Getty Images
Also read: US Elections