Reaction to Debate Is Mixed
Two delegates to national political conventions agree on one thing -- both vice-presidential candidates made surprisingly good showings Thursday night during their debate.
Do Shaver, of Seven Lakes, was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in early September. Tessie Taylor, of Jackson Hamlet, was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in August.
"Both made some personality adjustments," Taylor said of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee, and Sen. Joseph Biden, of Delaware, the Democrat.
Pundits had predicted Palin and Biden would have difficulties keeping themselves in check during the debate held on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. Biden has a reputation of speaking hastily and too long. Palin is inexperienced in such areas as foreign policy and came to the debate after a series of television interviews regarded as unconvincing.
Other than agreeing on the overall debate atmosphere, Shaver and Taylor did not see eye to eye on the substance of the debate.
"I think she pleasantly surprised everyone." Shaver said of Palin. "She pleasantly surprised me. She's a great addition."
Taylor said she was impressed with Palin's knowledge of domestic and foreign policy issues but thought her "flippant remarks" concealed insecurities about issues with which she was unfamiliar.
Shaver, who is also secretary of the county Republican Party, did not see Palin's mannerisms that way. As a Minnesota native, Shaver said she recognized characteristics of a Midwesterner in Palin, in her informal speech and spunky outlook.
"From my perspective, she held up to the high standards she set at the convention," Shaver said. "She almost outdid herself."
Shaver said that even Biden appeared impressed with Palin.
"I think he was flabbergasted," Shaver said. "Either that, or infatuated. I saw a twinkle in his eye."
Shaver said the reason the McCain campaign has kept Palin out of the public eye in recent weeks has been to prepare her for the debate.
Although she has administrative experience as a mayor and as governor of Alaska, Palin has no congressional experience, something that has drawn criticism and approval at the same time. Approval stems from the fact that she is an "outsider" when it comes to Washington, D.C., a characteristic that many voters like.
Taylor was less impressed with her knowledge and said Palin apparently had been well-schooled by campaign managers.
"She's a good student," Taylor said. "They (campaign leaders) had given her enough of an overview that she really did appear to be up on everything."
Taylor admitted that she watched Palin's mannerisms to detect nervousness or a lack of confidence.
"Sometimes her eyes would flicker, and I did not feel it was part of her," Taylor said of occasional responses by Palin.
Taylor also said she was unhappy with the lack of detailed information about Sen. John McCain's plans for the presidency. She said she wants to know more about what the candidates really expect to do if elected.
"The bottom line is that we're in a crisis right now," Taylor said. "People don't want to know about caribou and bridges to nowhere. We want to know what the person who wins is going to do to get us out of the crisis. We want to know what is your plan out of the gate to get us where we need to be, to get us out of this mess."
Taylor said she was impressed with Biden's response. She said he concentrated on the Obama-Biden beliefs and the Obama platform.
"He did not attack," Taylor said.
Taylor said she especially appreciated the level of friendly respect the candidates showed toward each other and the atmosphere of cordiality throughout the debate, which was moderated by PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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