Watch Presidential Debate 08
On October 2, 2008, Fox News hosted the first vice presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, moderated by Gwen Ifill. The debate drew in a whopping 70 million viewers, making it the most-watched vice presidential debate in history. The debate lasted 90 minutes and was divided into nine segments, each lasting approximately ten minutes. The topics ranged from foreign policy to healthcare to taxes, and the candidates were given two minutes each to respond to questions from Ifill.
From the very beginning, it was clear that the two candidates had very different styles. Biden, a seasoned politician with decades of experience in the Senate, came out swinging, while Palin, a former beauty pageant winner and governor of Alaska, struggled to keep up.
Biden's responses were detailed and nuanced, touching on issues such as the war in Iraq, the economy, and healthcare. He often cited specific examples and statistics to back up his arguments. Palin, on the other hand, relied heavily on folksy anecdotes and talking points, often ignoring the questions asked in favor of delivering pre-rehearsed lines.
Throughout the debate, Ifill struggled to rein in both candidates, frequently reminding them to stick to the allotted time and to answer the question at hand. However, she was criticized by some conservatives for being biased, as she had recently released a book about Barack Obama.
One of the most memorable moments of the debate came when Biden challenged Palin on her and John McCain's record on economic policy, delivering a scathing attack on their support for tax breaks for the wealthy. Palin stumbled through her response, failing to offer any concrete solutions to the economic crisis.
Another notable moment was when Ifill asked the candidates about their views on climate change. While Biden acknowledged the reality of human-caused climate change, Palin responded with skepticism, stating that the causes of global warming were still up for debate among scientists.
Overall, the debate was widely viewed as a victory for Biden and a missed opportunity for Palin. While Palin had many memorable moments throughout the campaign, including her infamous interview with Katie Couric, the vice presidential debate highlighted her lack of preparation and knowledge on key issues.
Despite the controversies surrounding Ifill's moderation, the debate was widely praised for its substantive discussion of important issues. It provided voters with a rare opportunity to see the two candidates side-by-side, and offered a glimpse into what each candidate would bring to the White House.