What Sarah Palin NEEDS to accomplish in the debate

There has arguably NEVER been a more anticipated Vice Presidential debate, or one more fraught with importance for our nation. But hey, no pressure!

It is of absolute importance that Sarah Palin and those helping her prepare for the debate do not approach it as if it were a pass-fail test to be graded by media pundits.

Governor Palin, simply take it for granted that the hyenas in the media will try to draw blood in their post-debate analysis, and keep a handful of simple things in mind.

  • The media is not your audience. This is an opportunity for you to speak directly to the American people. Do not play into the media’s hands by worrying over-much about anything they might say. Direct your remarks to average Americans–they will be there, millions of them, beyond the footlights and the media booths, and they will be listening.

  • Remember who YOU ARE. And remember why YOU are a conservative. You represent something truly fascinating, which is why America sat up and took note when you broke onto the scene and when you spoke at the convention. A strong, accomplished, American woman with a middle-class background whose life struggles were informed by CONSERVATIVE values. When you talk about your positions, discuss them in the light of your own struggles to make ends meet, to raise a family, and to improve your community. Speak from the heart and be ready to cast aside, occasionally, any prepared talking points about policy. Your story is something that millions of Americans intuitively relate to, and something that is almost never represented and given voice to on the national political stage. Again, don’t bother thinking about what the media wants. They don’t get this stuff–they live in a left-wing Washington bubble–but millions of Americans are dying to hear someone finally give voice to THEIR realities.

  • Relax. Smile. You don’t need to be anything but yourself. Believe it or not, lots of people who may not even agree with you policy-wise have an investment in seeing a strong, accomplished female female shine in the spotlight. They want to like you. Don’t pretend to be what you’re not. Don’t shy away from being who you are.

  • Go after Obama. Slam a few into Biden’s side of the court. Do it casually but confidently. In fact, it would be a grand idea to take a page from Couric and Gibson’s playbook and ask Biden for SPECIFIC reasons beyond the fact that he is now Obama’s running mate why he no longer stands by his previous comment that Obama is not ready to be Commander in Chief. If you get the chance, raise a follow-up question. Don’t be afraid of Biden. Go straight at him. He’s permanently one hair’s breadth away from making a major gaffe, and the expectations for him are a whole lot higher than the expectations for you. Be polite, but don’t let Biden or the moderator set the terms of the debate.

  • Don’t obsess over how your beliefs square with McCain’s. Stick to the broad outlines that you share with him–conservative economic principles and victory on the war on terror. Be prepared to identify a few of McCain’s specific ideas about these matters, but also be ready to say that these are ongoing issues and that the key thing is to maintain flexibility. Be ready, if necessary, to point out that Biden’s positions quite often don’t square with Obama’s.

  • And finally, if the opportunity arises, don’t be afraid of acknowledging that you’ve had trouble in interviews, that your background has been as a problem-solver instead of a slick, programmed politician adept at fielding gotcha questions. This is a question already planted in the public’s mind, and if you acknowledge it instead of run away from it, you’ll win points.

Good luck. Be a happy warrior. And give em’ hell.