Debate Cheat Sheet
I’ve whipped together a quick summation of tonight’s debate for those who missed it or would just like the reference.
A few preliminary matters: some observers during the liveblog (including me) thought that Ifill was giving Biden the last word more than Palin. I counted and found that was not the case. Biden got first crack at 10 questions; Palin got to answer first for 11. Biden got the last word for 11 questions; Palin got the last word 10 times. Occasionally the same candidate who answered first would answer last, but Ifill would then see to it that the other one had an opportunity to do that to keep it even.
The following table goes according the questions Ifill asked. Occasionally one or both candidates would get off topic or return to a previous topic. Also, a number of times the candidates would exchange words more than once on a topic. I’ve included the most precise summation I could muster; you’ll note that their answers don’t always quite answer the question asked.
A rush transcript of the debate is at CNN; watch out, it sometimes gets the name of the party speaking wrong.
|Bailout Bill||Was this the worst of Washington or the best of Washington that we saw play out?||Neither; it’s Bush’s fault, deregulation’s fault, CEO’s fault. But we’re going to put the focus on the middle class.||The economy is hurting and the federal government has not provided sound oversight; the Senate didn’t want to listen when McCain proposed Fannie/Freddie reforms, but McCain’s bipartisan efforts have been instrumental in bringing folks together over this past week.|
|Bipartisanship||How, as vice president, would you work to shrink this gap of polarization which has sprung up in Washington?||I have almost as many friends on the Republican side of the aisle as I do the Democratic side of the aisle. BTW, last week McCain said the fundamentals of our economy were strong.||[Responding]The American workforce is the greatest in this world. As far as bipartisanship, we’re known for putting partisan politics aside to just get the job done. Obama votes 96% along party lines.|
|Subprime Lending||Who do you think was at fault? Was it the greedy lenders? Was it the risky home-buyers who shouldn’t have been buying a home in the first place?||McCain was surprised by the mortgage meltdown. He was for deregulation and we let Wall Street run wild. Now Joey Danco never has enough money fill up his tank. [Responding:] Obama did not vote to raise taxes.||Darn right it was the predator lenders! But, we need to make sure that as individuals we’re taking personal responsibility through all of this. [Changing topic:] Obama and Biden also voted for the largest tax increases in U.S. history.|
|Taxes||[To Biden:] You proposed raising taxes on people who earn over $250,000 a year. The question for you is, why is that not class warfare?
[To Palin:] You have proposed a tax employer health benefits. I want to know why that isn’t taking things out on the poor.
|It’s about fairness! And 95% of the people in the United States of America making less than $150,000 will get a tax break.||When you talk about Obama’s tax increase affecting only those making $250,000 a year or more, you’re forgetting millions of small businesses that are going to fit into that category.|
|Bullshit Question||What promises have you and your campaigns made to the American people that you’re not going to be able to keep?||We’re probably not going to double foreign assistance. We’re not going to go forward with the tax cut proposals of the [Bush] administration. We’re going to reduce wasteful spending.||We keep our promises.|
|Mortgages/Gotcha||[To Palin:] Last year, Congress passed a bill that would make it more difficult for debt-strapped mortgage-holders to declare bankruptcy. Would you have supported it?
[To Biden:] You voted for this bankruptcy bill. Obama voted against it. Some people have said that mortgage- holders really paid the price.
|Obama saw the glass as half- empty. I saw it as half-full. We should allow bankruptcy courts to adjust the interest rate and principal of mortgages.||Yes, I would have. We have McCain to thank for at least warning people of Fannie/Freddi.|
|Climate Change||What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?||I think it’s clearly manmade. Drilling for oil will not benefit us for 10 years.||There is something to be said for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet. We have an “all of the above” approach to energy reform, including drill, baby, drill.|
|Same-sex Benefits||Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?||Absolutely positively. There will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple. [When pressed:] I do not support gay marriage.||Tolerance is key; contractual relationships should be honored. Marriage is between one man and one woman.|
|Iraq War||You have said that you would like to see a real clear plan for an exit strategy. What should that be?||16 month withdrawal. McCain cuts off funding for the troops.||Surge, surge, surge. Obama/Biden waves the white flag.|
|Iran and Pakistan||What’s the greater threat, a nuclear Iran or an unstable Pakistan?||They are both dangerous.||They are both dangerous, but Iran is threatening Israel.|
|Engagement||Secretaries of State Baker, Kissinger, Powell, and Baker, they have all advocated some level of engagement with enemies. Do you think these former secretaries of state are wrong on that?||Obama did not say “without preconditions.”||Obama wants to sit down with Ahmadinejad.|
|Israel||What has this administration done right or wrong [with] the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? And is a two-state solution the solution?||No one is a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden.||Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. A two-state solution is the solution.|
|Nuclear Conflict||What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?||Obama keeps nukes out of the hands of terrorists.||Our nukes are a deterrent. We must impose sanctions on other nations trying to acquire nukes.|
|Interventionism||[To Biden:] You argued for intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, initially in Iraq and Pakistan and now in Darfur, putting U.S. troops on the ground. Boots on the ground. Is this something the American public has the stomach for?
[To Palin:] Governor?
|Intervention saves lives. We were right to do it in Kosovo; we should do it in Darfur.||All options are on the table.|
|Individualism||[To Biden:] How would a Biden administration be different from an Obama administration if that were to happen.
[To Palin:] Governor?
|If something happened to Obama, I would carry out his policies.||I disagree with McCain on ANWR.|
|Vice Presidency||What it is you think the vice presidency is worth now?||I’m going to sit in on all of Obama’s meetings and tell him what to do.||VP presides over the Senate and I plan to use that authority to advance McCain’s agenda.|
|[To Palin:] Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?||Article I defines the VP as an executive position. (But see here). Cheney is the most dangerous VP ever.||The founding fathers built a lot of flexibility into the system.|
|Achilles Heel||The conventional wisdom, Gov. Palin with you, is that your Achilles heel is that you lack experience. Your conventional wisdom against you is that your Achilles heel is that you lack discipline, Sen. Biden. What id it really for you, Gov. Palin? What is it really for you, Sen. Biden?||I have excessive passion. I’m not going to change.||I do not lack experience; I was a governor and a mayor.|
|Flip-flop||Can you think of a single issue, policy issue, in which you were forced to change a long-held view in order to accommodate changed circumstances?||I realized that when voting on judicial nominees, you can’t just inquire as to their legal qualifications, you have to make sure of their political qualifications.||I have been forced to compromise on budgets as governor.|
|Bipartisanship II||How do you change the tone, as vice president, as number-two?||I don’t question the motives of fellow Senators, I question their judgment. That’s respect.||You appoint people regardless of party affiliation.|