Biden's strategy: Go easy on Palin
By: Roger Simon
September 30, 2008 10:20 AM EST
If Sarah Palin goofs, flounders, stumbles or blunders during her debate against Joe Biden on Thursday night, Biden is going to let it slide.
"If she makes a gaffe, he underplays it," one of the people prepping Biden for his vice presidential debate told me. "At most, he says, `I am not sure what Gov. Palin meant there.'"
There are three reasons for this. First, Biden does not want to look condescending. For the same reason, he plans on referring to Palin as "Gov. Palin" during the debate and never as "Sarah." (He will sometimes refer to John McCain as "John," however, because they have been senators together for many years.)
Second, Biden knows the press is going to pounce on any mistakes, and so he does not need to.
Third, and most important, Sarah Palin is not Biden's true target.
"Joe Biden's No. 1 job during the vice presidential debate is to keep the focus on the top of the ticket," the Biden debate prepper told me. "He is going to keep the focus on John McCain."
This is an arguable strategy. After all, McCain is the experienced one on the Republican ticket, the one whose credentials to be commander in chief from Day One are not in much question.
So why attack him instead of Palin, whose lack of readiness has been the subject of endless discussion as well as late-night comedy?
Because, at least in the past, Americans have not concentrated on the bottom of the ticket when it comes time to vote. They care about who the president is going to be, not who the vice president is going to be.