Biden, Palin Square Off in Vice Presidential Debate

Vice presidential candidates Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin faced off on issues from the deteriorating economy to foreign policies in a debate last night at Washington University in St. Louis.

Biden described the economic policies over the last eight years as the worst the nation has seen, in response to a question about the $700 billion bailout plan from moderator Gwen Ifill, host of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” both on PBS. He reiterated Obama’s criteria for the plan-oversight, taxpayer refunds, preventing CEO’s from pocketing money and homeowner aid.

Palin described Americans as being afraid when they think of the economic state and said the federal government failed to reform policies. She claimed that Sen. John McCain’s showed foresight on the situation, but that he was ignored. [Did she give specifics?]

[passive voice] Ifill also asked the candidates questions concerning polarization of Washington and the subprime lending meltdown. Palin accused the lenders of being at fault for the mortgage crisis and encouraged Americans to “demand strict oversight …and not get ourselves in debt.” Biden said deregulation was a large contributor to the economic crisis.

One-third of the debate was spent discussing the nation’s financial crisis. Biden said that selectively raising taxes for some groups was an issue of [welfare? This section is a little unclear as written.] “fairness.” due to families struggling to pay taxes. Palin said that millions of small businesses would have to pay higher taxes to make up the deficit.

The McCain-Palin campaign proposes a $5,000 tax credit to purchase health care. “It’s about affordability and accessibility,” Palin stated, rather than allowing the federal government to control health care. Biden points out that McCain plans to tax Americans for health care to pay for the $5,000 credit.

Palin claimed that their campaign has not made any promises that cannot be kept. She stated the Republican campaign does promise “to do what is right for the American people, stop the greed and corruption on Wall Street, and the rescue plan has got to include that massive oversight Americans are expecting and deserving.”

To deal with climate change, Biden promotes investing in clean-coal technology and is positive that the cause of the climate change is “manmade.” Both campaigns agree that the answer to dealing with the climate change begins with energy independence and harnessing other sources of energy. Palin advocated detaching oil ties from nations who care less about the climate.

Neither candidate supports same-sex marriage, but they do support same-sex benefits. Biden states that under the Constitution, same-sex couples should be allowed hospital visitation rights, joint ownership of property and life insurance policies.

The candidates debated foreign policy, funding for troops and the largest threats to America. Biden rebuked Palin’s description of McCain as a “maverick,” claiming McCain’s policies on Iran, Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan are identical to those of President George W. Bush.

Palin accused Obama of voting against funding for troops. Biden countered that Obama refused funding for troops that did not present a timeline for withdrawal. The Obama/Biden campaign advocates ending the war and accuses the McCain/Palin campaign of having no ending in sight.

Biden called the Bush Administration an “abject failure” in the Middle East, concerning Israel. Palin disagreed, saying that the Bush Administration has just made “blunders” and that reform is in order. However, Palin mispronounced the name of the commanding general in Afghanistan, David McKiernan, by calling him “McClellan.” Palin said the policies placed in Iraq should be placed in Afghanistan. However Biden disagreed, noting that the same policies will not work, according to McKiernan.

When asked how their policies would differ from those of their running mates, both vice presidential candidates said they would continue with the vision of their presidential partners. Biden promoted reinstating the middle-class and reforming energy and foreign policies. Palin promoted putting the government on the side of the American people and ridding the economy of greed and corruption.

Both candidates previously joked about not knowing what to do as vice president, so Ifill asked them to explain their opinions of the role. Palin described the job as presiding over the senate and supporting the policies of the president. Biden described his role in an Obama/Biden Administration as being point person for the Legislative Initiative for Congress, and an advisor on governing.

Palin closed by assuring America that she and Biden plan to fight for America and its freedoms-“economic and national security freedoms.” Biden called this election “the most important election you’ll ever vote in in your entire lives.” He and Obama advocate change, and he assures that Obama is ready to be the president of the United States.

Soledad O’Brien reported that a CNN poll of uncommitted Ohio voters showed that the majority believed Biden won the debate. About half of the respondents said they would vote for Obama, two percent would choose McCain, while the rest remained undecided. The CNN/Opinion Research Poll said 84 percent thought Palin performed better than expected.