The vice presidential candidates had their only debate in St. Louis tonight, and, if anything, Republicans are likely relieved that Sarah Palin acquitted herself smoothly while Democrats are likely relieved Joe Biden wasn't too aggressive. And overall, it was a very fast-moving and "energetic," as the NY Times' David Brooks said on PBS, debate. Presidential scholar Michael Beschloss didn't think it was very exciting, since there were no real zingers, a la Dan Quayle and Lloyd Bentsen's exchange in 1988, though Biden did call McCain's health care plan "the ultimate Bridge to Nowhere" and Palin did say, "Say it ain’t so, Joe."
Since this was the only debate, the topics spanned domestic and foreign policy, economy, energy, even gay marriage. Palin was very colloquial (with a lot of gonna's, betcha's, etc.), used folksy charm (when she met Biden, she asked if she could call him Joe), and played up her regular middle class background. She also emphasized her place as a Washington outsider and the governor of a natural resources-rich state. Biden hit a lot of talking points, pointed to his experience in dealing with issues, and teared up when discussing the death of his first wife. He focused more on attacking John McCain than Palin.