Vice Presidential Debate Expectations: Obama Camp Calls Palin "Terrific Debater"

Vice Presidential Debate Expectations: Obama Camp Calls Palin "Terrific Debater"

**Read all about the Vice Presidential debate.

On a Saturday conference call with reporters, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe called Gov. Sarah Palin "a terrific debater" who has "performed very, very well" in previous debates with opponents in her state.

Politico's Mike Allen writes:

"We've looked at tapes of Gov. Palin's debates, and she's a terrific debater," Plouffe told reporters on a conference call. "She has performed very, very well. She's obviously a skilled speaker. We expect she'll give a great performance next Thursday." [...]

"She's obviously prepping this weekend in Pennsylvania," Plouffe continued. "Anyone who watches any of her previous debates would be impressed by her debating skills."

Obama national press secretary Bill Burton added: "What's missing is knowing where she stands on a lot of the important issues that will come up at the debate. Preparing to debate against someone who is really largely unknown, who's spent so much time preparing for the debate, will be a real challenge.

"She's not out there on the stump that much. She's not doing a whole lot of interviews. So she's spending a whole lot of time -- hours and hours a day, apparently -- preparing for this debate. And we suspect that she'll come in fighting form."

As Allen notes, campaigns regularly play such expectations games in the days leading up to a debate (in this case, Thursday's vice presidential debate).

But despite Palin's multiple cringe-inducing interview moments over the last few weeks, this sentiment from Obama aides is not just theater for the media's consumption. Privately, Democratic campaign officials have sent video clips of Palin's previous debates to the Huffington Post, noting her strong performances against more experienced Alaskan pols.

There is a legitimate sense of unease that the bar has been set so low for Palin that even a modest performance will be seen as a major success -- and that Palin may be capable of much more.

UPDATE: Some footage of Palin at a 2006 debate discussing her opposition to abortion rights:

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