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Biden vs. Palin: What's at stake

The New York Times' Nagourney looks at the stakes for Palin in Thursday's debate. "The amount of time and staff power being devoted to [her debate prep] was evidence of concern among Mr. McCain's associates that Ms. Palin's early triumphs — a well-received convention speech, her drawing of big crowds — has been overtaken by a series of setbacks, creating higher stakes for her in the debate Thursday… 'I think she has pretty thoroughly — and probably irretrievably — proven that she is not up to the job of being president of the United States," David Frum, a former speechwriter for President Bush who is now a conservative columnist, said in an interview. "If she doesn't perform well, then people see it.'"

Meanwhile, the Washington Post writes a piece noting Biden's penchant for making gaffes. "Unlike his Republican counterpart, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Biden has not been shy about talking to reporters, but comments he has made since Obama chose him last month have presented Democrats with their own problems and revived the longtime senator's reputation for gaffes."

Politico's Roger Simon reports that Biden will most likely go easy on Palin. "If Sarah Palin goofs, flounders, stumbles or blunders during her debate against Joe Biden on Thursday night, Biden is going to let it slide. 'If she makes a gaffe, he underplays it,' one of the people prepping Biden for his vice presidential debate told me. 'At most, he says, "I am not sure what Gov. Palin meant there."'"

"Second, Biden knows the press is going to pounce on any mistakes, and so he does not need to. Third, and most important, Sarah Palin is not Biden's true target.  'Joe Biden's No. 1 job during the vice presidential debate is to keep the focus on the top of the ticket,' the Biden debate prepper told me. 'He is going to keep the focus on John McCain.'"

The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus dreams of having McCain debate -- drum roll, please -- Sarah Palin. "I can understand how he views Obama as untested and unprepared. I can't square that dismissive attitude with McCain's selection of Palin."