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    Biden-Palin to meet in United States' most anticipated VP debate

    AFP
    02.10.2008 - 11:37 | Son Güncelleme:

    Despite experience to burn and a rival taking on serious water, Democrat Joseph Biden faces the prospect of being eclipsed in Thursdays vice-presidential showdown by Sarah Palin star power.

    Even if he demonstrably wins the most anticipated VP debate in U.S. history, analysts say Biden, a veteran senator from Delaware, is likely to remain overshadowed by a potent -- if comparatively inexperienced -- political force that has shaken up the race like few vice presidential candidates ever have.

     

    The 65-year-old Biden has fired up the faithful at more than 40 campaign events since being tapped as Barack Obama’s running mate. Palin has attended fewer than half that, and while Biden usually draws a few thousand, attendance at Republican events skyrockets into the tens of thousands when Palin shows up.

     

    Biden has conducted an estimated 100-plus interviews on the trail; Palin has done merely a handful, and yet her responses -- many of which have raised concern -- are the ones receiving prime-time attention.

     

    "Biden is in a difficult situation," said James Pfiffner, professor of public policy at Virginia’s George Mason University

     

    "He is someone who knows an awful lot about foreign policy... but the star of this show is clearly Governor Palin" of Alaska, he said at a roundtable on the eve of the debate.

     

    Concern has mounted in recent days, however, following a series of interviews that left her looking ill-informed and convinced Democrats and some Republicans that Palin has not got what it takes to be in the White House.

     

    Accusations have flown that Palin was overhandled and underexposed on the campaign trail, and expectations of a stellar performance are low as she prepares to square off late Thursday against Biden in their sole clash ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

     

    Biden is a skilled debator and should shine on the stump as he goes after his old Senate sparring partner John McCain on foreign policy.

     

    The Democrat is in his fourth decade in the Senate, chairs the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has performed admirably in dozens of debates, particularly in carving out criticism of the Bush administration.

     

    Critics say Palin has less experience dealing with national and global issues than virtually any vice presidential candidate of the last half-century.

     

    But Pfiffner joined other experts and political strategists in stressing that Biden’s main challenge with Palin will be not to "directly contradict or argue with her" lest he appear too patronizing.

     

    "He can’t be seen as trying to pick on her or make her look bad."

    Having been sequestered by her Republican campaign handlers and kept away from all but a handful of reporters, Palin is ensuring massive numbers of Americans will tune in Thursday -- if only to get a better sense of the woman who shot across the political heavens like a comet after McCain put her on the ticket Aug. 29.

     

    And if Palin flounders or blunders during the debate, Biden will not pounce, according to one of the people prepping Biden for the showdown.

     

    "If she makes a gaffe, he underplays it," the source told online political magazine Politico.
    Biden does not want to appear condescending, and any major mistakes by Palin will be dissected by the press anyway.

     

    Hell also make sure to "keep the focus on the top of the ticket," meaning McCain, the prepper said.

     

    Many Americans latched onto Palin’s narrative of devout Christian, moose-hunting "hockey mom" with five children.

     

    But Steven Smith, social sciences professor at Washington University, whose campus in St. Louis, Missouri is hosting the debate, said Biden has trouble getting independent voters to look beyond the Palin-mania to absorb his own background.

     

    "He’s got a personal story of his own, that perhaps even Governor Palin cannot match in terms of what he has overcome in his life," Smith said.

     

    Biden survived two brain aneurysms, and after he was elected to the Senate at only 29, his wife and infant daughter died in a car crash.

     

    His two young sons were injured, and ever since the accident, Biden has commuted to Washington daily by train, reinforcing his regular-guy image.

     

    Yet Biden’s inspirational history "was lost in the mix once Governor Palin was nominated," Smith said.

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