Final preps for V.P. debate

ST. LOUIS - October 1, 2008 Crews are putting finishing touches on the lighting and stage at Washington University before Thursday's crucial Vice Presidential debate.

Expectations are running high from both Democrats and Republicans.

Viewership is expected to soar to levels similar to the Super Bowl, as voters look for any detail that could help them decide which way to vote on Election Day.

Democrat Joe Biden is expected to handily answer questions on foreign policy and national security.

He is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and a seasoned Washington insider. However, supporters worry that the 36-year Congressional veteran could get bogged down in long-winded answers. Experts doubt he'll commit a faux pas like 20 years ago where he was accused of plagiarizing a closing statement during a debate.

Though, they also fear he could make a gaffe like the one before this year's Presidential primaries where he described Barack Obama as "clean." Supporters admit it will be tough for him to strike just the right tone against his less seasoned opponent, and not appear to be condescending or on the attack against Sarah Palin. As for Palin, critics say she could make policy mistakes or be seen as a lightweight on serious issues because she is new to the national game.

Two years ago in the gubernatorial debates in Alaska, she did make key mistakes. In one, she proposed that schools teach both creationism and evolution, a statement she later corrected. However, she handily answered tough questions on stem cell research, gay rights and abortion and supporters point out how she disarmed long-term opponents with quick wit and used "grace over gotcha." Still, critics say her lack of availability for media interviews this fall and her average answers to Charlie Gibson don't bode well. They say using photo ops do not fool voters and could be the reason her polling numbers have softened.

She'll need to far exceed expectations to make up the lost ground.

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