Palin, Biden prepping for Thursday’s big VP debate

Similar to the 3 days of debate prep Barack Obama spent in Florida, Gov. Sarah Palin is heading west to John McCain’s ranch for debate prep ahead of her showdown with Sen. Joe Biden. Word is that Biden is also in debate prep mode so clearly he isn’t taking this any less serious than he would a more seasoned opponent.

Report from the CNN:

(CNN) — The vice presidential candidates are taking some time off the trail this week to prepare for their highly anticipated debate Thursday. Appearing with John McCain on Monday, Gov. Sarah Palin said she was looking forward to debating Sen. Joe Biden.

“So I guess it’s my turn now, and I do look forward to Thursday night. … I’m looking forward to meeting him, too. I never met him, but I’ve been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, second grade,” she joked at a rally in Columbus, Ohio.

The Republican Alaska governor has generally shied away from attacking Biden directly, although she did use the “second grade” remark in an interview with Fox News two weeks ago.

Palin added that she thinks the Delaware Democrat is a “great debater.”

Going into a debate, campaigns try to lower expectations for their candidate while raising expectations for their opponent.

Biden’s campaign has been trying to play up Palin’s debate skills in the lead-up to the debate.

“She’s very skilled, and she’ll be well-prepared,” David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s chief strategist, said Sunday night as he flew with Biden back to Delaware to help him get ready.

More specifically on Biden’s debate prep from the New York Times:

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, spent most of the day Monday in a hotel suite in Wilmington preparing for Thursday night’s debate.

As practice sessions unfolded behind closed doors, top aides tried, not terribly convincingly, to suggest that Mr. Biden – a two-time presidential candidate, 35-year veteran of the Senate and chairman of its foreign affairs committee – is the debate underdog to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

“He’s going in here to debate a leviathan of forensics,” Mr. Biden’s spokesman, David Wade, said with an almost straight face, “who has debated five times and she’s undefeated.”

David Axelrod, Senator Barack Obama’s top political strategist, also tried to play down expectations for Mr. Biden and to highlight Ms. Palin’s skills as a debater.

“I think that if you go back and look at the debates that Governor Palin’s had as a candidate, she’s very skilled and she’ll be well-prepared,” Mr. Axelrod said on Mr. Biden’s plane Sunday night. “As you saw at the convention she can be very good. So, I think it would be foolish to assume that this isn’t going to be a really challenging debate. We’re preparing for that, on that assumption.”

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Democrat of Michigan, joined the debate preparation team in the role of Ms. Palin. Ms. Granholm flew to Wilmington with Mr. Biden on Sunday night after the Democratic candidates made an appearance in Detroit earlier in the day and was expected to stay for a day or two of mock combat.

Also on the Biden debate team were Ron Klain, a former top aide to Biden in the Senate who has been helping Mr. Obama prepare for debates; Ricki Seidman, a senior campaign adviser; Anthony Blinken, Mr. Biden’s chief foreign policy aide; and Valerie Biden Owens, Mr. Biden’s sister, political adviser and close confidante.

Mr. Axelrod said that preparation for a vice-presidential debate is more complex than for a top-of-the-ticket contest because the nominees have to defend their own records while touting the qualifications of their presidential candidates and questioning the positions of their opponents.

“This is primarily going to be a debate about where the principals, the presidential candidates, want to take the country,” Mr. Axelrod said.

Fascinating how these mock debate prep sessions work. One can only imagine the things they prepare for. They have to deal with every possible negative area either candidate could bring up.

To be a fly on the wall for Biden or Palin… priceless!