Rich Galen

Pre-game: Gwen Ifill should never have been allowed to moderate this debate. I don't know whether her book is a pro-Obama book or not, but if it is true that its publication date is January 20, 2009 and it is about the rise of young, Black politicians - like Barack Obama - and she didn't tell the debate commission that she was involved in this project, then she should have recused herself, or should have been disqualified.

The other night I did a radio program in Washington and I said that Sarah Palin had to put her supporters at ease. She didn't have to know everything that Joe Biden knows, but needs to come off as a well-informed citizen, who is successfully climbing a very steep learning curve.

This debate had nothing to do with Biden. Everyone knows he's been a United States Senator for all the years that Obama says Washington has been wrong. It was all about Palin.

I got to my hotel here about 15 minutes after the debate started. There were five guys sitting in the lobby watching on a 60" TV. I asked them who was winning. One said, "It's a tie." I said, "If it's a tie, then Palin is winning."

In the first half hour, the problem that Sen. Joe Biden had was that he knows too many details about the stuff that Ifill was asking about. Talking about Chapter seven versus Chapter nine (or whatever) in the bankruptcy law even the Hampton Inn's television's eyes glazed over.

Gov. Sarah Palin kept coming back to her energy background where she is obviously very comfortable, but it seemed to me she was at ease and eager to participate in this thing.

When the conversation turned to foreign policy - Biden's specialty - Ifill first asked about Iraq (Biden's son is going to Iraq to fulfill a reserve requirement; Palin's son is already there). Palin was prepared and answered well. Biden is very comfortable with the material, but has to support Obama's changing positions.

Extending the foreign policy portion, Palin's answer on pre-conditions and her defense of Israel was as strong, passionate and coherent as I have heard anyone - anyone - make.

By Ten O'clock Palin was holding up very well. Here's how you learn to pronounce the word nuclear: You write on a big piece of poster board: NU-CLEAR and you practice it again and again. I know this, because that's how I learned how to pronounce it properly.

Biden was well-coached to stay away from correcting or even engaging with Palin. He compared the Obama/Biden positions with John McCain.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at