Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sarah's Going Moose Hunting Tonight

Yay! The original Barracuda is coming back:

ST. LOUIS — Sarah Palin plans to go on the attack in tonight’s debate, hitting Joe Biden for what she will call his foreign policy blunders and penchant for adopting liberal positions on taxes and other issues, according to campaign officials involved in prepping her for tonight’s showdown.

The Palin camp is projecting surprising self-confidence in the pre-debate hours, despite the vice presidential nominee’s uneven — and, at some points, peculiar — performances in recent television interviews, the officials say. Top advisers to John McCain privately say Palin’s recent CBS interview was a borderline disaster, especially since it played out in several segments over several days. Tonight will be different, they say.

“This is going to finally put her back into a position where we see her like we saw her the first couple weeks,” a McCain official said. “She was herself. She was authentic, and people related to that. ... Tonight, she’ll get into a rhythm. You’re going to see her in a way that you haven’t seen her yet.”

By contrast, Biden plans what an aide calls "a just-the-facts, prosecutorial approach laying out the case against McCain and defending Obama." The aide said Biden will be "keeping the eye on the target, which is McCain."

It is hard to imagine higher stakes for a vice presidential nominee on the national stage. Palin wowed even her biggest skeptics with her spirited introduction to the American people at the Republican National Convention last month. It’s been downhill since then, however. She has been largely sheltered from unscripted moments on the campaign trail. And, when she has exposed herself to improvisation or tough questioning, Palin has been criticized for offering vague and at times unusual responses.

Palin advisers say that she remains just as popular with much of the Republican base as she was a month ago when her convention speech was hailed as a home run. But her ratings have eroded in polls since then, and the advisers see the 90-minute debate at 9 p.m. Eastern as a chance for a swift turnaround from what they call “negativity” in her news coverage.

Click over to the Politico article for a breakdown of specific strategies, including throwing Biden's own words back at him and enumerating the conflicting policy positions between the Democratic candidates. Suddenly, I am feeling a whole lot better about tonight's performance. Let's hope this is just the beginning of a new tactic to fully unleash Sarah from the constraints of parroting McCain campaign talking points. If tonight's debate is anything like the ones I've seen of Sarah during the Alaska gubernatorial election, Biden will be in for a full field-dressing by the time she's through.

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