Veep debate includes zingers … and a few gaffes

October 3, 2008

The vice presidential contenders Joe Biden and Sarah Palin offered their share of zingers and even a couple gaffes during their one and only debate on Thursday in St. Louis.


Biden tried to link the health care plan offered by Palin and presidential hopeful John McCain to Palin’s past support of a now-famous congressional earmark to fund a bridge to a small island that was labeled the “Bridge to Nowhere.”  

“So you’re going to have to place — replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company.  I call that the ‘Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere,'” Biden said.
Meanwhile, Palin corrected her rival about the offshore drilling for energy resources when Biden said “drill, drill drill.” 

“The chant is ‘drill, baby, drill.’ And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into,” she said.

Biden, who is known for his verbal miscues, managed to only have one major gaffe, rtx95sf.jpgapparently erroneously referring to Hezbollah instead of Syria when he talked about the United States and France coming to the aid of Lebanon.

“When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said, and Barack said, ‘Move NATO forces in there.  Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it,'” Biden said.

Meanwhile, Palin had a couple mistakes herself, calling the U.S. commander in Afghanistan Commander McClellan when his name is David McKiernan.

She also got her words mixed up when talking about the financial crisis, which has been criticized as a bailout for bankers on Wall Street and doing little to help Main Street Americans.

“It’s a toxic mess, really, on Main Street that’s affecting Wall Street,” Palin said. 

She also referred to her opponent as “O’Biden” at one point, combining her opponents’ names.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

– Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Palin winks during the vice presidential debate), Carlos Barria (Biden laughs at the debate)


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I am very Republican, but I have to declare a loss. Biden was well-spoken and took the victory, but I have posted a blog with reasons why Repubs will still win in November! 8/10/02/biden-vs-palin-who-is-the-victor  /

Posted by Nate Stockard | Report as abusive

That O’Biden was absoultely on purpose.

Thank GOD

Posted by KM | Report as abusive

Go Sarah! Who cares about Dancing with the Stars!

Posted by Eloise Andvik | Report as abusive

I caught “O’Biden”, too. That was funny! However, I feel you really had to look deep to find these slips. Overall they both did VERY well considering how low the expectations were! However, just as predicted, both sides are declaring victory…where are the scores?!

Posted by Chelsea | Report as abusive

Hands down Sarah is the winner!!! Sarah ‘gets’ what real people know and live – she is one of us.

Biden put his foot in his mouth with so many untruths that he made my teeth curl – he is a Washington insider who is clueless about truth.

Posted by max | Report as abusive

Hey Nate Stockard, I have see the exact same message on several boards now.

Posted by Nate Stockard | Report as abusive

Yeah, I think “O’Biden” was on purpose. I’ve heard “McPalin,” too.

I thought they were more or less evenly matched, and it was interesting to hear them talk about what the role of the VP actually is. The ultimate winner was the moderator. Can we keep her for the next Presidential debates.

Posted by EN | Report as abusive

Ronald Reagan in a dress. Trickle down economics didn’t work in the 80s, and it hasn’t worked for the last eight years of Bushdom, yet they hope we’ll be so mesmerized by Miss Alaska’s smile that we won’t remember that “investing in the nation’s infrastructure” (as she said) means TAXES. The private sector doesn’t take the risk in building roads and bridges–the taxpayers do. Those same taxpayers she’s so sure wants the government off their backs; meanwhile we’re having to shovel out the screw-ups that the private-sector bankers have wrought. What does that matter when you can wave the flag, throw on the xeonophobia, and sprinkle in a few gosh-darn-its and be *cute*.

Posted by M R | Report as abusive

Palin: “I’m not one to attribute every activity of man to changes in the climate”.. got that one a bit backwards there… oh well, who cares about the details when you could be VP!!!

Posted by Jen | Report as abusive

Are we living in the Twilight Zone? Palin has no idea what she is saying. She can memorize words, but they have no meaning because she has no experience. And, she used the word “lame” which is offensive to people with special needs.
She literally has the nerve to talk down to Biden on issues that she literally has no point of view.

This is insane. This woman has no clue and could be president. Come on people!!

Posted by Hilary | Report as abusive

The only thing more unbelievable than the socialist’s having the audacity to think they can capture the hearts and minds of a free Republic en masse, is that they are actually succeeding to such a degree.
I attended HBC when Obama was in law studies. I read his Daddy’s papers from his own time there before either of us, and if a sane citizen would take the time to do so as well, you might see that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I really cannot believe this is happening.

Posted by sevanclaig | Report as abusive

Biden amazed me. One CNN commentator complained that he had talked about himself instead of Obama, but that was a good thing. We had to imagine the scenario where Biden would have to lead the country through the aftermath of an assination that ought to be unthinkable. We have to imagine Obama thought about it, and chose Biden for that job above all others. Well chosen, I think.

On the other hand, the chance that McCain would be unable to govern during a chemo course is much more likely. He chose Palin.

Posted by Mary Porter | Report as abusive

Sarah should be a talk show host and nothing else. I wouldn’t elect her for the job of local Dog Catcher. She’s a box of rocks, dumb as a stump. A real dunce. You can see she was cutting school during US Government classes. She just found out the legislature holds the purse strings!! LMAO…OBAMA|BIDEN…

Posted by X_Republicant_X | Report as abusive


wrong. the governor proved adept at regurgitating the talking points fed to her by her team of “Washington insiders” but showed contempt for truth and for continuity of discourse. she redirected the prompt whenever she felt uncomfortable answering a question and generally came across as disingenuous.

let’s face it, governor palin’s image was what was at stake tonight and she defended it admirably. unfortunately for her, biden showed a level of professionalism that frankly, left palin looking lost and out of place. palin was a cute choice for the republicans, but her charisma will not save the ticket.

Posted by dan | Report as abusive

They both did all right, both held their own. Personally, I think Bush is doing a heck of a job, and will vote accordingly.

Posted by frank burns | Report as abusive

You forgot a major gaffe on Biden’s part…not knowing which article(s) of the Constitution the Vice President is mentioned in. Hint: Article I is not the “executive” article, it’s the legislative one. And, the VP is mentioned there (as president of the Senate). It’s also mentioned in Article II, which IS the executive one.

Of course, I could just be wrong and could just be reading my “Evil Dick Cheney Approved Constitution.”

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

Sarah Palin reminds me of my mom.

I love my mom very much.

My mom should not be in the white house.

Posted by VegasForTheVote | Report as abusive

Biden showed he had the gravitas to be President. Palin spoke in a series of mini-stump speeches. Biggest surprise was Biden’s success at characterizing the McCain/Palin position on gay marriage as being no different than that of Obama/Biden. Pretty deft move. Second biggest surprise was Palin’s relentless blaming of Wall Street greed as being responsible for the financial meltdown. No blaming of Democrats in particular or government in general. And her solution is regulation on steroids. Strange debate, in these ways.

Posted by Larry Weisenthal | Report as abusive

Biden was wrong about not questioning the ‘motives’ of others, ecspecially when their ‘judgement’ is so far out there.
Now I look at him and also wonder “Say it ain’t so Joe”.

You had better “judgement” when you said Obama was a bad, bad idea. Four people on the ballot, the only really genuine person left is Governor Palin. Put her to work in Washington. That place really needs it.

Posted by filmmaker | Report as abusive

Will the libs PLEASE join Ms. Palin and tell Biden/Obama to stop the whole ridiculous notion of BadBushequalsMcCaintheSame tripe !?
Obama has never, NEVER voted against a fleeting Democratic notion, let alone a piece of legislation- so who really thinks he’d ever use a veto pen? Haven’t we learned enough about the dangers of a total one party power? Obama is Bush III, be assured of that. Pelosi and Reid will run right over that punk. That’s why they selected him for you.
McCain wouldn’t get half his ideas through congress.

Posted by Obama is Bush3 | Report as abusive

Palin did a brilliant job. She avoided questions brilliantly, focused on saying the talking points she had prepared beforehand (Palin for Dana Perino’s job!), avoided being reprimanded for giving no specifics whatsoever, failed to mention that the town she was mayor of is four blocks long, and took full advantage of the fact that Biden could not criticize her since that would make *him* look bad.

I actually don’t think McCain would follow Bush’s footsteps. But Palin? She’s far scarier than Bush – she seems to believe what she says!

Can you please go and check if you gaffed up when you labeled Biden’s reference to Hezbollah in Lebanon as a gaffe?

Posted by Dino | Report as abusive

Senator Biden clearly won tonight.

Biden is an expert debater. He has mastery of a large range of topics and confidently argues his position. Impressive to watch.

Palin only offers folksy, rambling, memorized talking-points. She’s a sickeningly unqualified candidate for one of highest offices in the country.

To champion her as ‘one of us’ and ‘someone who gets it’ is showing your opposition to intelligent, quality leadership.

Posted by huh? | Report as abusive

Sarah Palin is talking down to the people. We’ve already been fed this hokey “someone you can have a beer with” act with Bush – don’t fall for it again. How many different ways did she talk about the need for deregulation while we’re in the midst of an economic crisis caused by massive deregulation? Completely irresponsible.
Joe Biden is the salt of the earth. He’s someone who for his entire Senate career has gone home to Delaware on the train every night because he cares more about his family and home state than being a Washington insider. In tonight’s debate, his answers were truthful and clear. And most polls show that he won.

Posted by ellen | Report as abusive

Sarah Palin was still not able to answer the questions given to her. If she didnt know the answer she would talk on and on around it without giving an answer. This is something that in the Couric interview she was not allowed to do. The format of this debate allowed this to go on. But Joe Bidens answers were much more specific and to the point. This is a win for Senator Biden.

Posted by robert | Report as abusive

Palin spoke more level headed and to the point than Biden. Sure She nailed it with straight talk about energy, taxes and big government. If middle of the road, working people were listening, they liked what they heard!

I’m pretty sure Article 1 of the constitution doesn’t have to do with the executive branch, but I guess that doesn’t qualify as a Biden gaffe to you..

Posted by Peter Brown | Report as abusive

palin said..she tolerates gays..yes she said tolerates them…my son is vote for the other ticket is sealed

Posted by ric | Report as abusive

I did get a chuckle out of the Republican up there talking about how bad and greedy Wall Street is. Lot’s of scrambling behind the scenes to say ”she didn’t really mean it” I suspect. Also enjoyed the maverick/reform pitch that seemed to smack of running against the Republican that is currently in power. But, heck, I say, doggone it, if you’re going to vote against the Republicans, keep it simple and just vote for the Democrats. Now that’s common sense.

Posted by Suzy | Report as abusive

It’s obvious that there are 2 Americas represented here. Also, Reuters and the other socialist media outlets are blatantly in the tank for the Obama. What the Dems represent is an America that I surely don’t want to live in. Palin with her so called “inexperience,” easily out witted, out thought and out classed Mr. career O-Biden hands down.

Posted by SSG Scott Fitzek, USA | Report as abusive

Biden = Windbag
Hasn’t done a thing lately that he and the Big “O” are promising and couldn’t “Bork” Sarah!
He did a fine job spewing the voting numbers out of context. I won’t vote for the pork and favors injected into the best titled bill.

Posted by Zippy Tip | Report as abusive

I only caught the last half: Joe sure gets long winded but he mostly stays on message.

And Sarah must’ve really worked hard to memorize all those talking points down at the Az ranch (Why do politicians all have ranches?) and then completely not answer the questions, always looking to talk about energy and Alaska.

Fox would, of course, call it a win for the GOP because, well, it’s Fox *vomit* But all in all, noone screwed up too badly and I think that is the main point.

Let the spin begin!

By the way, has McCain un-suspended his campaign yet? Wonder what his next stupid publicity stunt will be.

good bye GOP

Posted by Japanese Cowboy | Report as abusive

Many times I wanted Ifill to cut Palin’s rambling off and ask her to stay on point, or to elaborate and explain herself more clearly.

Unfortunately, because of time constraints, it’s often hard to press candidates for more adequate and satisfying answers. Press conferences on the other hand, are tailor-made for that, and it’s the one thing that Palin refuses to participate in.

Looks like we’re stuck with anecdotes, tangents and roundabout, going-nowhere-fast sillyness.

Posted by Miriam | Report as abusive

Nobody has mentioned the gaffe of Palin saying “Nucular” instead of “Nuclear” about 10 different times. The first time I thought it was a slip…after 5 or 6 times, it’s clear she doesn’t actually know the difference.

Posted by ROD | Report as abusive

Governor Palin won hands down. She attacked the vice-president and made him seem like the talking head bureaucrat Biden is.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Big win for Biden. Sarah is cute, but that’s about it.

Posted by M.E. Laine | Report as abusive

The whole time I was watching the debate I wondered why Biden didn’t counter with the same tactic that McCain used against Obama about “lack of experience”, then I read about how he couldn’t attack Palin because it would be seen as “condescending”. And Palin was somehow allowed to talk about anything she wanted instead of answering the question (something the interviewers never let her get away with). And people are calling this a victory for Palin? Please, get real. The only thing Palin proved was she could be cute and folksy, things we already knew about her. What I did not know was that Biden is such a great guy AND he knows what he’s talking about AND he could show this while answering all the questions. Isn’t that how these debates are supposed to be measured?

Posted by Get Real | Report as abusive

Leave it to a Republican (“Brian”) sitting at his computer to fail to look up the facts and proceed to make a very public fool of himself and his party–Biden was right about the powers (such as they are,) of the Vice President being in Article One of the Constitution: _of_the_United_States_Constitution

Joe Biden became a senator in 1972. Sarah Palin was 8 years old in 1972. It is surely no surprise that he knows more about the constitution than Palin-he knows more about everything relevant to running this country than Palin does.

Posted by Tim Dunn | Report as abusive

Biden actually answered the questions, did a good job reigning in his tendencies toward verbosity, showed patience and courtesy in dealing with his clearly underqualified opponent, and won by a gosh-durn-it mile. Now, can we stop focusing on this ridiculous choice for veep for the Repubs. I’m bored already. The joke was funny the first time, now let’s get on with some serious business and elect a president with a mind, for a change.

By the way, a maverick is a wayward calf, usually lost and in need of rescuing and being returned to the herd before the coyotes get it… not quite the image Palin had in mind, I’m sure. Doggone it!

Posted by Phil | Report as abusive

HEY Jeremy,
Bit of a gaffe on your part:
Biden…apparently erroneously referring to Hezbollah instead of Syria when he talked about the United States and France coming to the aid of Lebanon.
Biden right, Jeremy wrong.
Syria was already well out of Lebanon when Israel launched its war in response to Hezbollah raids. If Lebanon and Israel both lost that campaign there is a strong case that, because of a lack of international intervention, Hezbollah won a huge propaganda victory, and their raids continued.
Also missing Biden’s real slip up on the articles of the Constitution is 8th grade material. More work needed Jeremy

Posted by Jermy Mild | Report as abusive


October 2nd, 2008
10:52 pm GMT

Sarah Palin reminds me of my mom.

I love my mom very much.

My mom should not be in the white house.
– Posted by VegasForTheVote

Posted by LMAO | Report as abusive

Politicians, like used-car salesmen, no doubt can be the most annoying of people. One might think Sarah would be different, but funny how she constantly regurgitates the single most annoying concept in this entire campaign…

The concept that they are “mavericks”. I am so sick and tired of hearing the word “maverick”!

I am a conservative, and I think I might be able to “tolerate” gay people for the next 4+ years more than I can tolerate these self-proclaiming “mavericks”. Gag me with a fork, please.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Both were remarkably well “prepared.” One was prepared for years through service and experience and the other prepared through intensive cramming session in a debate camp. Biden showed an excellent grasp of the issues in general and specifics which influence these issues. His answers were based on well documented facts, some garnered from McCains own website (which amuses me to no end). Palin was incredibly put together, focused and charming. She seemed warm, passionate and vibrant. Overall I think both sides accomplished a lot more than was expected of them.

Posted by Amber | Report as abusive

This is hilarious. Biden was a gaffe fiesta. He was wrong on the Constitution and the VP (see Article I [the Article that defines the legislature], Sec 3, where the only role of the VP is specified as a contingent legislative role; and Article II, Sec 1, where the VP is spoken of with no role in the executive branch (read the first line), until the president cannot serve; and Amend 25, where the VP can, with other exec officers, declare the president incapable).

He was wrong on Iraq and Afghanistan spending. Current montly spending in Iraq: ~$12 billion. Total spending in Afghanistan to date: $173 billion. And he said “I’ll say it again,” and restated the same falsehood.

He was wrong on Palestinian elections: Obama had been in office less than a week when they happened, and said nothing about them.

The US did not kick Hezbollah, or even Syria, out of Lebanon.

He was wrong on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. All but one Republican voted against ratification, not just McCain. And for good reasons.

He was wrong about a restaurant in his home town; it’s been closed for over two decades. How often does he really mix with the people? Better check that Home Depot too.

That’s just skimming the surface, and not even getting into his misrepresentations of regulation of the secondary mortgage market, supposed deregulations that he blames the credit crisis on but which did not happen, falsehoods about the McCain health insurance plan, the Bridge to Nowhere (which he voted for every time he got the chance, as did Obama), and on and on.

The only thing uncharacteristic about Biden’s gaffomania this time is that none of them was funny. But any two of them, had they been stated by Palin, would have the media clucking over her ignorance, incompetence, inexperience, and confusion. Biden didn’t make two gaffes. He’s over 20. Good god. And this man is supposed to be competent to be vice president? It’s laughable.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

I loved the O’Biden rib – how could it have been a mistake.
“Hilary” has given a deeply negative take on Palin’s knowledge and understanding on this blog – How are you Hillary Clinton and are you blogging for Obama on Reuters now?

Posted by Cassandrina | Report as abusive

the article says biden has only one major gaffe — and that one was a doozy (I still have no idea what he was alluding to — when did the US and France do anything even remotely like kicking Hezbollah out of Lebanon — what was he thinking of?) — but, in fact, he had a bunch of fairly inaccurate statements.

He said we spend more in Iraq in one month than in Afghanistan since 2001 — but in fact, we’ve spent some 170 billion in Afghanistan vs. 10 billion/month in Iraq. Maybe this is just hyperbole — nobody takes his figures seriously, right? — I suppose if he has said more in Iraq in one YEAR, then it would still be false, but at least close.

He got the duties of the vice president — the job he’s running for — wrong.

He said Obama *never* said he’d meet unconditionally with
Ahmedinijad — but not only did he say it in a debate, but Biden attacked him for it at the time!

This aside from the usual distortions (on both sides) of each others record, description of the consequences of their tax plans, etc.

Posted by TMA | Report as abusive

Palin ignored the questions and gave a speech. She didnt counter Biden’s slams on McCain. She basically just spit out memorized talking points and ignored everyone.

I didnt see anything to change my opinion of her. Who comes to a debate and says they dont feel like answering questions? Shes just trying to hide her ignorance and stick to lines she memorized.

Posted by bubba | Report as abusive

I think Biden meant the PLO as France never kicked Syria out of Lebanon (Syrian troops remained in lebanon years after the end of the 1982-2000 war). Biden also made another gaffe when he incorrectly stated that Hamas is in control of the West Bank.

Posted by Jonnie Blaze | Report as abusive

[…] Reuters thinks he meant to refer to Syria, but I still don’t think it would be accurate to say the U.S. kicked Syria out of Lebanon. The Lebanese kicked Syria out of Lebanon. […]

Posted by Small Whispers » The Biden Error/Lie/Hallucination List (UPDATED to 22) | Report as abusive

[…] I would have to admit that neither candidate made any serious gaffes other than those listed here. However, what did I really learn from the  debate. I am afraid the answer is, “Not […]

Posted by Post Debate Analysis: What did we learn? | Political Now | Report as abusive