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Analysis And Discussion Of The VP Debate; Undecided Voters In Ohio Rate The Candidates; Some Still Undecided

Aired October 3, 2008 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: This morning we're getting our first look at how you at home thought the candidates fared in last night's debate. In a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll 51 percent of people who watched the debate thought Senator Joe Biden came out on top. Just 36 percent thought that Governor Palin won. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live in St. Louis where the debate was held.
Hey there, Suzanne. You were in the debate spin room, as they call it, last night. What was the buzz?

SUZANNE MALEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There certainly was a lot of buzz, a lot of spin that was going on. I had a chance to talk to representatives from both sides, as well as some neutral observers. Most people by far said that they thought Sarah Palin at least improved her performance. Now just how much and what kind of an impact it had really depended on who you talked to. I did speak with foreign policy adviser for the Obama camp, that side, Susan Rice and she said that "Palin gave some pat statements, but that she didn't answer the questions."

Talked to a McCain spokesman, Tucker Bounds, of course, he said something very different. That she exceeded expectations that were set too low, created by people who didn't know her record or her abilities. She was more confident, that she had more of a state of presence this time around. So, obviously, both of these camps vying for public opinion, vying to kind of spin this into their own advantage this morning, Kiran.

CHETRY: We also heard from both campaigns. What are some of the other folks saying about this debate?

MALVEAUX: I had a chance to catch up with a Clinton spokesman, his press secretary, Mike McCurry, of former President Clinton. And he had a very interesting perspective here. He essentially said that, "Joe scored more points, but she won more hearts. .... She was reassuring, that people really got a feel for her." He really felt that Joe Biden needed to connect a little bit more emotionally, to let go a little bit more. But he felt at the same time that Joe Biden also had more of a command, obviously on some of the substance of the topics going on.

I spoke with Bob Barnett, now this is somebody who has Geraldine Ferraro and her debate, Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and then also Joe Biden this time around. He said that what he found was fascinating was that there was no gender politics that was actually involved in this. That you had a male/female debate but there was no sense of any kind of moment that stood out, when you said, hey, there's chauvinism, there is sexism here. This is a man and a woman that was debating. He thought that was progress -- Kiran.

CHETRY: You were behind the scenes, what was it like?

MALVEAUX: There was a lot of anticipation moving forward, you know, going into this. A lot of people expecting some sort of ah-ha, some big moment; people were disappointed in the sense that didn't necessarily happen. A lot of people felt like, they saw Palin as someone who was trying, that she was making, she was scoring some points here. But they didn't take it away as if she was really a clear winner in this situation. And they thought that you got to look at the presidential debates Tuesday. That Tuesday will be another big day here. That both of them, in some ways, moved the ball forward. But they are going to be looking back, they are going to be focusing on Obama as well as McCain - Kiran

CHETRY: All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us in St. Louis. Thanks.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up now on five minutes after the hour. Debate analysis straight from the voters. The people that matter most weigh in on what the candidates said in CNN's exclusive "dial test".

CHETRY: Also, one of John McCain's toughest attack dogs, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani with his take on last night's debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. If you were watching the debate last night on CNN, as I'm sure you were, you saw instant feedback on the debate as it was taking place in real time. We were the only network to use a dial test to record the reactions of the voters. And then put it on the screen live as it was happening.

Our panel of 32 uncommitted voters, in key swing state of Ohio, turned a dial to indicate how much or how little they liked what the candidates said. Our Soledad O'Brien tells us what they thought last night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): John, Kiran, Governor Sarah Palin started with low expectations. Certainly from our panel, most people thought that Senator Joe Biden would win this debate. But she came out strong.

SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Go to a kid's soccer game on Saturday and turn to any parent there on the sideline and ask them how you are feeling about the economy

ALVIN SIMPSON, REGISTERED DEMOCRAT: I was pleasantly surprised at her performance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to say Senator Biden came off very presidential, himself.

O'BRIEN (voice over): Palin who comes off a week of disastrous interviews with CBS' Katie Couric was energetic and engaged.

PALIN: Here you voted for the war and now you opposed the war.

O'BRIEN: Senator Biden, who has had his share of gaffs was low key.

BIDEN: We really don't have a difference.

O'BRIEN: The panel of 32 registered Independents, Democrats and Republicans, virtually evenly divided recorded their feedback on the wireless perception analyzers, tracking second-by-second the issues that were making an impact and the statement from the candidates that were missing the mark.

Watch the lines, yellow for women, green for men as both talk about foreign policy.

BIDEN: This is a fundamental difference between us. Can we will end this war.

PALIN: Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq. And that is not what our troops need to hear today, that's for sure.

O'BRIEN: High marks when they talked about the economy.

BIDEN: Make sure the CEOs don't benefit from this.

PALIN: It's not the American people's fault that the economy is hurting like it is.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Show of hands, who do you think won the debate?

(voice over): But the critical question, did this debate sway our undecided voters?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going into this, Biden had the -was the favorite, and it was up to how Palin performed. Did she win? I don't think she won, but she showed you she can hang in there with someone on a large scale.

O'BRIEN (on camera): You're a registered Republican. Is hanging in enough for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we're still undecided.

O'BRIEN (voice over): Soledad O'Brien, CNN, Columbus, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: Following in Dick Cheney's footsteps. A look at the shoes that the next vice president would have to full. And what we can expect from whoever gets the job.

Also $100 million for racetrack owners; $192 for makers of rum, why the bill that's supposed to save the economy is, yet again loaded with pork. You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: The issue is how different is John McCain's policy going to be than George Bush's? I haven't heard anything yet. I haven't heard how his policies can be different on Iran than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy is going to be different with Israel than George Bush's.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Let's get more post-game this morning to last night's VP debate. Patricia Murphy, the editor of "CitizenJanePolitics.com" and from New York John Avlon, a registered independent and contributor to "Politico" join us, once again, to talk more about this.

John, you thought this moment was very effective, Joe Biden saying how are you going to be different than George Bush administration?

JOHN AVALON, CONTRIBUTOR, "POLITICO": Absolutely. Because it took the rhetoric of Bush equals a McCain third term, which is a little bit lame, because John McCain is so genuinely independent and it rooted it in policy. And Biden prosecuted the case that a vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin is literally a vote for more of the same when it comes to policy. And he prosecuted again and again.

And the McCain/Palin ticket can't get out from under Bush's shadow. They keep talking about bipartisanship. Something that would normally resonate enormously with independent voters, but the Bush administration is so unpopular with independents that they are having trouble getting deeper traction.

CHETRY: Very interesting, Patricia, because you brought up that last time we talked, as well, that there was a new line of attack in this. Or new line of defense, I guess you could say, which is, hey, let's stop talking what the president did. There's a lot of things he did that he didn't do correctly. Let's move forward. And that is what Sarah Palin tried to say. How effective do you think that was among independents?

PATRICIA MURPHY, "CITIZENJANEPOLITICS.COM: I think it was -- it's a relatively effective line, but it's not effective enough to turn around people's perceptions. Again, if you go through a lot of the state by state polling, more people blame George Bush for this kind of financial crises than blame Wall Street, which I think is a shocking number.

John McCain has voted pretty consistently along party lines, but one thing that Palin said last night that I've never heard a Republican say, is that Barack Obama has voted 96 percent along party lines. I think that's something they should have been pointing out much, much sooner. Trying to paint him as a partisan and them as the mavericks. But again, she kind of leaned back on the maverick label, but didn't give a whole lot of examples to nearly blunt what Joe Biden said with that line.

CHETRY: It was clear being the Washington outsider is a favored position among independents. You guys have told us that for months now. Here's what Sarah Palin said about it last night. I want your opinion on whether you thought this was effective.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: How long have I been at this, like five weeks? So there hasn't been a whole lot I promised, except to do what is right for the American people, put government back on the side of the American people, stop the greed and corruption on Wall Street. And the rescue plan has got to include that massive oversight that Americans are expecting and deserving and I don't believe John McCain has made any promise that he would not be able to keep either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: We want to go back to the first part of what she said, which is I've only been at this like what, like, five weeks. Some have said it is a gaffe. Others saying it was refreshingly honest - John?

AVLON: One of the rules of politics you hang a lantern on your problem. She's inexperienced? Well, she says, guess what I'm not part of the Washington establishment. Independent voters are sick and tired of the hyper partisanship from Washington . The problem is that I think Sarah Palin, after initially shake up the race and exciting the base, has proved to be a very polarizing figure in American politics and that's a drag on the McCain camp as well, a bit.

CHETRY: Last word, Patricia.

MURPHY: She has been polarizing among people who are already polarized. Democrats hate her. Republicans love her. There is a sliver, particularly of women voters who are listening to her and are relating to her. That is a group that the Republicans need very much to reach out to and need to connect with. They need white, married women to go with them in order to win this election. She's still giving them a little bit of hope that they could do that.

CHETRY: Is that Josephine Six-Pack?

(LAUGHTER)

MURPHY: There is so much about me you don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

CHETRY: We're going to find out as this continues for the next 30 odd days. Patricia Murphy and John Avlon, great to see you both.

AVLON: Thank you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Cheney's shadow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has probably been the most activist, aggressive, assertive vice president in American history.

CHETRY: How Dick Cheney changed the game. The new role of the VP and what to expect from Sarah Palin or Joe Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to be able to just put the vice president in the closet.

CHETRY: You're watching the most news in the morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: I do agree with him, that we have a lot of flexibility in there and we'll do what can we have to do to administer, very appropriately, the plans that are needed for this nation.

IFILL: Vice President Cheney's interpretation of the vice presidency?

BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president that we've had probably in American history. He has -- the idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution define the role of vice president of the United States. That is the executive branch. He works in the executive branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.

And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as the vice president to preside over the Senate only in a time when, in fact, there's a tie vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Sarah Palin and Joe Biden during last night's debate sparring over the role of vice president. Our Frank Sesno joins us now with a look at what the role of the vice president was, is and will be, whomever gets the job.

Good morning to you, Frank.

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Will be, that's the key. Will be, because both of these characters that we saw and listened to last night will have, would have a very influential role if they were elected along with their running mate. The bottom line here, it really matters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO (voice over): There they go again.

BIDEN: Thank you.

SESNO: Running mates trying to make a difference.

PALIN: Thank you.

SESNO: This time at least people are paying attention. There's no hard job description here, though. The only thing the Constitution says is you preside over the Senate, break a tie, and hang around just in case something happens to the boss.

What they do depends on who they are. Take Dick Cheney. He put real power into the office; major influence on the president and policy. In charge in hours after the 9/11 attacks. Argued for going to war in Iraq, a hawk in the campaign against terrorism. Here just off the coast of Iran.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll stand with our friends in opposing extremism.

ROBERT DALLEK, HISTORIAN: He's probably been the most activist, aggressive, assertive vice president in American history.

SESNO: Al Gore played a softer role, more partner than power center he got big think assignments like reinventing government. Dan Quayle never escaped the shadow of doubt, as inexperienced, unprepared. The first George Bush had plenty of experience and weekly lunches with Reagan, but no one ever suggested he made policy, or even influenced it much.

So here are today. Biden, picked for his experience, clout in Congress, foreign policy hat. Palin for her energy, conservative core, reform. Each would establish their own sphere of influence.

DALLEK: Cheney has now elevated the office to a place, a point that you're not going to be able to just put the vice president in the closet. They are going to continue to have influence.

SESNO: All this attention as a reflection of judgment and maybe the job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: John, maybe the job. Well, we got some really interesting clues last night as to what each sees the job as being if they are there. Sarah Palin said she would be working very hard and be a point person on energy, the reform agenda, families and especially families with children with special needs.

Joe Biden , interestingly said he'll be the legislative point man. That means getting stuff done in Washington in Congress. He said that he's already talked it over with Obama and he'll be in the room for every major decision. So they are not talking about a Dick Cheney model, but not talking about a Dan Quayle model either.

ROBERTS: You know, Frank, during the primary campaign a lot of people were wondering whether if maybe the next vice president would become a secretary of State or secretary of Defense. Joe Biden said last night that Barack Obama asked him if he wanted a portfolio. He said no. So does it look like this vice president, the next vice president, will have a fairly traditional role?

SESNO: It's really hard to say. I doubt it. I just don't think so. I think we're past sort of the traditional role of sitting in the wings. The issues are too big. The egos are too big. And the need for power is just too significant. And both of these candidates have been chosen for a reason. There's probably a greater danger, if you want to use that word, with Palin, because of her relatively lack of inexperience. But her profile on the campaign, where she connects with voters, and her potential clout if she where to come to Washington is such that I think it's a fairly safe bet that McCain would find something creative and different for her to do as well. This is not going to be an in the shadows, of as Bob Dallek said, an in the closet vice president.

ROBERTS: All right. Frank Sesno for us this morning. Frank, is it always great to check in and hear from you.

SESNO: Good to be here.

CHETRY: A huge bailout bill that's supposed to save the economy is stuffed with pork. We'll take a look at what your money is being spent on. And Rudy Giuliani came out big for Sarah Palin at the convention and he hasn't let up. Next the former New York City mayor takes on critics who say Palin is not qualified.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: We've got breaking news this morning. Wells Fargo buying Wachovia for a whopping $15.1 billion. Christine Romans joins us now with the latest on the moves in the banking industry.

You're calling it the survival of the fittest.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The survival of the fittest. That is absolutely right.

I sat right here on Monday and told you Citigroup was buying the banking operations of Wachovia in a deal that was brokered by the federal government. But today Wells Fargo says, it and Wachovia are in a deal that's valued at $15 billion -- without the help of the federal government. And this keeps the entire Wachovia company intact, according to Wells Fargo.

And the changes in the banking industry are happening faster than can we can almost keep track. I mean, honestly, at the beginning of the week, the banking operations of Wachovia were going to Citi, with the help of the government. Today, Wells Fargo said it, and Wachovia are doing a complete merger.

CHETRY: So, is this better?

ROMANS: Well, for stockholders, apparently, because both stocks are up. Anything that happens without the help of the federal government, a lot of people say, that's good. But it's survival of the fittest is exactly what it is. The banking industry is seeing some huge changes.

CHETRY: All right, we'll talk more about the impact of this throughout the morning with you. Thanks for staying (ph).

ROMANS: Sure.

CHETRY: John.

ROBERTS: It's 27 minutes after the hour now. We want to talk more about last night's debate and what it means about the future. We're joined by former New York City mayor and former presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani. He's in Washington this morning.

Mr. Mayor, it is great to see you again, as always.

RUDY GIULIANI, FMR. MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Great to see you, John.

ROBERTS: More people last night, when we look at our CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, more people found Sarah Palin to be likable. Vastly more people thought that Joe Biden sort of represented the traditional Washington politician. But then when asked who was more in touch with your problems, take a look at this: 50 percent said Joe Biden; 44 percent said Sarah Palin.

How do you explain that disconnect, particularly when she's positioning herself as Josephine Six-Pack?

GIULIANI: John, 50-44, is -my reading of polls is anytime it is within about 10 percent it is hard to tell. Honestly, both of them did a good job. Given the way that Sarah Palin came into that debate, all the questions that were being raised, all the attacks, any fair-minded person has to come away kind of amazed at the good job she.

It was one of the better debate performances I've ever seen. And she showed herself knowledgeable on the issues, capable of handling just any issue thrown at her. And I think she reaffirms John McCain's judgment that she would be an excellent vice president.

ROBERTS: Many observers believe she avoided directly answering the question. She was very light on policy and by most accounts Joe Biden won the debate. Would you agree with that?

GIULIANI: I don't think she was light on policy at all. I think she gave very detailed answers. Sure, she tried to give the answers she wanted to give. Every debate I ever participated on, I've been trained to do that. So did Joe Biden. Joe Biden avoided half the questions he was asked. Joe Biden's whole debate was how terrible George Bush is and Dick Cheney. Called him the most dangerous vice president in history. He's not running against Bush and Cheney, but that's how they see this. That's obviously their tactic. ROBERTS: But he is - yeah, he is and Senator Obama is trying to make the case that John McCain's first term would be George Bush's third term.

GIULIANI: But -

ROBERTS: Let me ask you this: How would John McCain be different than George Bush, in terms of policy?

GIULIANI: Well, for example, John McCain had a totally different view of the war in Iraq than George Bush. John McCain was the first person --

ROBERTS: They're in lockstep now.

GIULIANI: Well, they weren't for three years.

ROBERTS: But they are now.

GIULIANI: One of the ways that war got turned around is John McCain's constant criticism of the way in which it was conducted. They have different views on campaign finance reform, on taxation. Probably John McCain, for a Republican senator --

ROBERTS: Wait, how are they different on taxation? Because Senator McCain wants to extend the Bush tax cuts?

GIULIANI: He also wants to add tax cuts of his own, he wants to reduce the corporate tax. He wants to, in many ways, be more sensitive to the taxes that will raise more revenue for the government.

It's very, very hard. And it really isn't honest to try to paint John McCain as some kind of a Bush II. I mean, he's been a - of the Republican senators, he's probably been the one who has gone out and struck a totally different posture in many, many areas than the president. And the point is, Joe Biden didn't answer the questions either.

He tried to make the points that he wanted to make. And Sarah Palin has always held to a much higher and much more difficult standard than Joe Biden. Joe Biden misspoke about eight times during the debate and he flat out misrepresented John McCain's record when he said that John McCain voted for taxing people earning $42,000 a year. Joe Biden voted for that. John McCain did not.

ROBERTS: Mr. Mayor, let me ask you if I could, you have repeatedly said, and I saw an earlier interview with you this morning, you said that you have full confidence that she can step into the role of being president of the United States, if God forbid she had to. You ran for the job. When you ran for the job, you cited your vast experience as mayor of the nation's largest city, particularly in the area of national security, response to 9/11, economic security. Does she have the same level of experience that you do?

GIULIANI: You know, John, of all the people on the ticket including my good friend John McCain she has the most executive experience.

ROBERTS: But does she have the same level of experience as you?

GIULIANI: Well, everybody has different experiences. I don't understand energy to the extent that Sarah Palin did. I mean Sarah Palin has her own set of experiences. But nobody is perfect. There are pluses and minuses, everyone. In her case she has the most executive experience of anyone on that ticket.

ROBERTS: But as a mayor of New York did you have more experience than she does?

GIULIANI: I had different experience. She has the experience of what it's like to govern a small town, a small towns make up a tremendous amount of America. I know the eastern media sometimes has trouble relating to small towns but they make up a very big part of the United States. She runs a state that's at the core of our energy problem right now.

So she's had her experiences, I've had mine, John had his, we all have different experiences. But of the people running right now she has the most executive experience and I think it showed last night. She was much more practical in her answers to these questions going to lowering expenses than somebody like Joe Biden who's been in Washington forever.

ROBERTS: Mr. Mayor, it's always great to catch up with you. Thanks for joining us this morning.

GIULIANI: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: All right. Take care. We'll see you again.

CHETRY: 32 minutes past the hour. Here are the top stories. A new CNN poll suggests 51 percent of the people who watched last night's vice presidential debate think Senator Joe Biden won much, 84 percent though said Governor Sarah Palin did a better job than they expected. During the 90-minute exchange the V.P. candidates discussed the economy as well as foreign policy and climate change, among other things.

A judge in Alaska has rejected a request to kill the investigation into Governor Sarah Palin's firing of the state's public safety commissioner. In his ruling, he also upheld the subpoenas for members of Palin's administration. Republican lawmakers and attorney general argued that the investigation had become tainted by politics.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads to India this morning to commemorate a nuclear energy deal with that country. President Bush is expected to sign the agreement which allows inspection of India's nuclear facilities. Rice said the country of more than a billion people can move to meeting energy needs while becoming environmentally responsible.

A $700 billion bailout bill is expected to come up for a vote in the House today. But the bill that the Senate passed, critics are saying well it's full of hundreds of millions of dollars in pork. Jim Acosta is here to explain where some of the money in this bailout is going and there is a very strong smell of bacon in the room this morning.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. And it is not clear at this point whether House members are going to go for all these sweeteners that are included in this Senate version of the bailout bill but others seem to just like the taste of it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): In hopes of winning favor in the House the Senate critics say went hog wild. Larding up their version of the bailout bill with pork barrel projects and tax breaks.

REP. STEVEN LATOURETT (R), OHIO: This bill deserves to be a clean bill and votes shouldn't have been purchased with pork and that's the point of this exercise.

ACOSTA: As a result that $700 billion bailout package just got $100 billion bigger.

STEVE ELLIS: They are shopping for votes.

ACOSTA: Nonpartisan government watch dog Steve Ellis sees it as a legislative blue light special on tax brakes. $2 million for Wooden Arrow Manufacturers. $100 million for car racing track owners. $192 for rum producers, $478 million for the film and TV industry. That almost $800 million is just for starters. Some House members who voted against the original bill are now reconsidering.

ELLIS: I don't think their constituents will be too happy to know that well I opposed the bailout but because I was able to get a beneficial treatment for Wooden Arrow manufacturers in my district I voted for it.

ACOSTA: But supporters of the Senate's version point to provisions that would raise the FDIC cap on insured bank deposits per person from $100,000 to $250,000. And offer new tax breaks for businesses affected by Hurricane Ike.

DANA MILBANK, "WASHINGTON POST": When we were kids you would see a school house rock on television but they never told you exactly how a bill becomes law and that's by larding it with all kinds of goodies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just a bill. Yes, I'm only a bill and I got as far as Capitol Hill.

ACOSTA: As "School House Rock" pointed out most bills are supposed to start in the House. But the Senate got creative attaching the bailout package to a measure requiring employers to cover mental health care and physical health care on an equal basis.

MILBANK: Where the Congress is going, they really do need some mental health parody around there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He signed the bill, now your a law. Oh, yeah.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: If only it were that easy for a bailout bill but it does have the support of both presidential candidates, including John McCain who has crusaded against Potomac pork. A McCain spokesman says the Arizona senator views these bailout bonuses as another example of why Washington is broken. John.

ROBERTS: Jim, thanks so much for that.

CHETRY: Well, it was Sarah Palin's big chance to prove herself and it was Joe Biden's opportunity to steal the spotlight. We're taking to you the heartland to see what the voters there thought. You're watching "the most news in the morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Energy independence is the key to this nation's future, to our economic future and to our national security. So when we talk about energy plans it's not just about who got a tax break and who didn't and we're not giving oil company tax breaks, but it's about a heck of a lot more than that. Energy independence is the key to America's future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, that's a little bit of the debate last night between vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and vice presidential candidate Joe Biden. CNN political contributor and deputy editorial page of the "Washington Times" Tara Wall joins me.

Now earlier, Tara, you mentioned that they are really going to let Sarah Palin be Sarah Palin. We heard some of the colloquialisms last night like a heck of a lot and the hockey moms and of course the Joe Six Pack. Did that play well?

TARA WALL, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: "Say it ain't so, Joe" and "by golly." You know, she's got that kind of Barney Fife disposition that yes, middle Americans can relate to. Of course, you know the latte liberals are not going to be able to relate to that but she wasn't speaking to them. She was speaking to independents, those undecided, those middle Americans who understand where she's coming from. And I think she resonated in that way. Very plain spoken. Direct to the point and certainly did resonate, I believe.

CHETRY: Our post-debate analysis has Joe Biden, when we asked who did you think did the best job in the debate 51 percent saying Joe Biden, 36 percent saying Sarah Palin. But when it came to these kitchen table issues relating to how middle America feels about the economy did she connect better?

WALL: I think she did. Obviously, he's the substantive one. You know, I mean, he's been here for many, many years. He's experienced. He's the Washington insider some would say. So it's expected he would have a greater depth of knowledge. She's the more likable, personable, kind of, you know, again hockey mom, neighborly type of person. I think that one of the things that I also mentioned was that she can and she will recover. She definitely, she certainly recovered. Whether you agree with her or not she recovered. She came through. And that's what she needed to do.

CHETRY: Are we selling Joe Biden a little bit short here. I mean the whole reason a lot of people said he could be an advantage to the Obama ticket is that he does have middle class roots. His net worth, I think is one of the lowest if not the lowest in the Senate. You know, he also says he's from small town America.

WALL: Well, and as you can see, he almost got on the defense when he started to realize just how much I think she was connecting with the audience because he started to say hey, I talked to these people at Home Depot all the time. You know, I'm there. I've been where they are. He had, of course, that very touching moment where he choked up which I thought was very genuine. And so, I think he wanted to remind people that despite the fact that in Washington for decades that I am, you know, I am part of, you know, this hockey mom, soccer mom, I'm not a mom, I'm a dad. I've been a single dad. I understand kind of mentality.

I think though again, she's probably a little more believable in that area because people are talking about and are looking for, you know, a change in Washington. He still represents long time Washington whereas she would still represent someone fresh, someone new. It's just who has a greater depth of knowledge on some of these issues and whose more personable. Voters have to decide what they believe goes longer, whether it's the judgment for someone who is the mom next door or judgment for someone who has been here for decades.

CHETRY: That's right. Also, our polls who seem more a typical politician, Joe Biden 70 percent, Sarah Palin 21 percent. But does that translate into trusting that this person is going have the second most important job in the country?

WALL: Well, listen, you know, I think that her judgment and what she's done as a governor and as a mayor is what, I think, people can relate to. When she starts telling those stories about where she's been and how she's led as a governor and as an executive, I think she has to do a little bit more convincing as far as would she be able to take the job on day one. I think some people are hoping and wondering well hopefully that won't have to happen on day one. We know, obviously, that without question that something that Joe Biden, given the experience in Washington, that he has had will be able to do and step up to.

But I think, again, you have to look at the top of the ticket as well. We're talking about Barack Obama, John McCain are running for office. They are the ones at the top of the ticket. I think at the end of the day that's what voters will be looking to. I don't know that she's swayed a number of voters at this point. I think the undecideds are still going to looking at the next two debates and looking at the top of the ticket, what they have to offer as vice presidential candidates as part of that ticket.

CHETRY: Tara Wall for us, CNN political contributor and the deputy editorial page for the "Washington Times." Thanks for being with us.

WALL: You bet.

ROBERTS: Well, you have heard what the pundits think. But what about folks out there at heartland. We're taking you to Republican country to find out what the voters are saying about the debate. Stay with us for that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): Tune in.

GWEN IFILL, VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE MODERATOR: Welcome Governor Palin and Senator Biden.

ROBERTS: The world is watching.

PALIN: Say it ain't so, Joe.

ROBERTS: Live in London for a look at how people outside of the United States are reacting to last night's showdown in St. Louis.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has been no maverick on the things that matter.

ROBERTS: You're watching "the most news in the morning."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to "the most news in the morning." 46 minutes after the hour. We've heard from the analysts and the pundits but let's get some insight on what voters think about last night's debate. Our Carol Costello watched the debate with a group of Palin supporters and she joins us now live from Poland, Ohio. Good morning to you, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. If you're wondering where Joe Six Pack lives, it was right here on Main Street in Poland. I joined a group of Republicans who ware watching the debate last night. They were eating chicken wings, and pasta. They were drinking beer. They were very supportive of Sarah Palin and hoping that she showed the country that she had what it takes.

Interestingly enough, there were a couple of Hillary Clinton supporters there who are now voting for McCain. They too were hoping Sarah Palin would show that a woman had what it takes to be vice president. In fact, they were passing around these buttons, you see. Sarah Palin's face on Rosie Riveter's body. These buttons were a big hit last night. As per how they think Sarah Palin compares to Hillary Clinton, well listen for yourself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUCKY beanbag, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I was very much for Hillary because I thought she was seasoned and she knew what she was doing. But my opinion was she looked like middle management that hit the glass ceiling and we all felt that she was frustrated and she looked like the frustrated woman, you know. This woman looks like she's fresh and out of the box.

CLARENCE SMITH, MCCAIN SUPPORTER: She's created something up there. She has a family. She has all the problems of everybody else in this country. She understands what the problems are.

MARY DICKEY, MCCAIN SUPPORTER: She is just so wonderful. I don't know. I just couldn't move when she's speaking. She's just wonderful. She has got it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: You know when Sarah Palin used words like gotcha, and you betcha and she asked Joe Biden if she could call him Joe that really resonated with the voters that I talked with last night. And keep in mind they are Republicans. But she seemed to be - she seemed to be just like them and that's what they are looking for in Washington, John. They feel they've had enough of Washington insiders. They want someone who represents them and that's why they like Sarah Palin.

ROBERTS: You know, I was having a discussion with James Carville about this not too long ago. And he said hands down, you know, you can't even argue that Joe Biden won this debate and I said but, does it matter because people who want to vote for a presidential candidate often vote for who they are most comfortable with and it would seem that these folks out there that you talked to in Ohio really want to vote for somebody who they are comfortable with and the policy might be secondary to them.

COSTELLO: Well, you know what they said about that? They said, Joe Biden was very knowledgeable and they will give them that. He knew all the facts and figures. But they fell that he did not represent them. They called him an old fart last night. They said Sarah Palin represents - they said Sarah Palin could actually learn those facts and figures. She could surround herself with people who knew them. But she spoke in their voice and they wanted someone in the White House that represented their point of view that talks their language.

ROBERTS: As you know, Carol, there's all kinds of hand wringing going on by many Republicans, intellectual conservatives is how they were described by some people that thought that Sarah Palin was not up to the task, that maybe she should withdraw from the ticket after those series of interviews with Charlie Gibson, with Katie Couric. Did folks there in Poland ever give those interviews and their performance in them a second thought?

COSTELLO: There was very much a sense that they've thought the media was setting Sarah Palin up to fail. They distrust the media, but they were also looking forward to this debate and they were also looking forward to Sarah Palin to prove herself. They were very well aware of how poorly she did in some of those interviews and they were very much hoping that she would - she would prove the critics wrong. But as far as really listening to intellectual conservatives as they term them, they weren't listening to them at all. They just think Sarah Palin speaks their language and that's good enough for them.

ROBERTS: (Sting) stop. Carol Costello for us this morning, among her friends, on Main Street there in Poland, Ohio. So good to see you. Thanks, Carol.

And a programming note for you. Carol is going to have a series of reports for us next week called "Voices of the People." She is going to be looking at the roles of the middle class, women, and race in this year's election. That's coming up next week on AMERICAN MORNING.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): Judging Sarah Palin.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sarah Palin came off as an everyday person.

ROBERTS: With so much pressure, did the hockey mom connect or stumble?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not great on the details of the answers.

ROBERTS: Plus, an independent scorecard on the showdown in St. Louis when Ralph Nader joins us live on the most news in the morning.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, all you got to do is go down Union Street and with me in Wilmington and go into Katie's restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spent time. And you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years. And then ask them whether there's a single major initiative that John McCain differs with the president on.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Say it ain't so, Joe. There you go again, pointing backwards again. You preface your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now dog gone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to do to plan to do for them in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the most politics in the morning. New poll numbers just out this morning. 51 percent who saw the debate say that they felt that Joe Biden won compared to 36 percent for Sarah Palin. But it wasn't just the candidates' answers that voters were listening to. Body language, facial expressions, all of it can have a big impact on the overall feeling they get from a candidate.

Drew Westen is the author of the "Political Brain" and T.J. Walker is a body language and media consultant and the author of over 50 books and CDs, including "Media Training A to Z." Good morning to both of you. Thanks for being with us this morning.

DREW WESTEN, FMR. INFORMAL ADVISER OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Good morning.

T.J. WALKER, CEO MEDIA TRAINING WORLDWIDE: Good morning.

CHETRY: All right. Drew, let me start with you. Overall, how do you think the candidates did?

WESTEN: Well, I think that Sarah Palin passed the George Bush confidence test. You know I think she was above the threshold of, she didn't make any major gaffes, and that was a positive for her. I think Biden came out as the Biden who came out in the democratic debates. I think this was probably his strongest performance. He was comfortable, he didn't have any trouble with the gender issue with her, yet he was very comfortable with attacking the Bush administration and McCain in particular.

CHETRY: And T.J., when you go to read body language, there was a lot going on there, but they both as they were delivering their lines and criticizing each other had smiles all over their face.

WALKER: They both came across as relaxed. Palin, especially, did not look scared like she did in earlier interviews this week. She didn't have any of those moments when she looked like the kid who was asked what did you think about that homework assignment and she was like, uh. She looked confident, comfortable, and much more relaxed.

CHETRY: And Drew, I want to play something that struck a cord with you. This was when Senator Biden spoke about the difficulties of being there for your children as a single parent, he got a little bit choked up. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: The notion that somehow because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child that's going to make it, I understand -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: All right. And what we really wanted to see there, which we clipped away from, actually, was Sarah Palin's reaction. You felt this was a missed opportunity for her.

WESTEN: Yes, I thought it was a really strong thing for him. It wasn't obviously a planned moment, but it was one where he kind of took motherhood away, he took parenthood away from her and really humanized himself in a way that Obama and McCain didn't in the last debate. I thought her missed opportunity was her response to that kind of ignored what he just said and went straight into political speak and it seemed a little jarring to the ear.

WALKER: It was abrupt. But again, overall, she came across quite well, because she smiled and looked relaxed. Biden did a good job with his body language most of the time, but there was times where he was just scratching his face too often.

CHETRY: All right. I want to ask you about Sarah Palin as well, T.J., the smiling and the winking. I mean, since we've seen her five weeks ago on the national stage, these are some of her mannerisms. Does this work?

WALKER: To some people the winking seems too cutesy, but other people find it endearing. I tell you what, nervous people don't do that. So to most people it made her look more comfortable, more confident. Biden looked confident too. The only place where I'd give him marks against him, is a little too much scratching, playing with the face and when the camera wasn't on him, he went into sort of what looked like a scowl. But overall he seemed comfortable and confident and had a pleasant smile, too.

CHETRY: And Drew as a psychology professor, you say that men and women look at Palin differently. How so?

WESTEN: Well, if you watch the dials last night, one of the most interesting things was when she was supposed to shore up the female side of the ticket and men were really responding to her among those independent men who were being dial tested in Ohio. It was the women, actually, who weren't responding to her, which is a really interesting phenomenon.

CHETRY: And T.J., advice to each candidates going forward?

WALKER: Well, they both have to continue doing the things they did well. Biden didn't make any gaffes and Palin didn't look scared or surprised or startled or failed to answer any basic questions like, what newspapers do you read?

CHETRY: Well, I want to thank both of you for being with us with the unique take this morning. Drew Westen and T.J. Walker, thanks.

WESTEN: Thank you.

WALKER: Thank you.