For Sarah Palin, last night’s debate was an open-book exam. She spent much of the evening methodically reading and rehearsing answers from “carefully scripted talking points.” Palin’s notes were largely hidden from plain view, resting behind the lectern where she stood.
Because the cable and network television stations did not show a split screen of the debate, most viewers could not see that, during Joe Biden’s answers, Palin spent almost all her time looking down and studiously reading her notes. But viewers did see that when Palin delivered her answers, she would repeatedly glance down to check her talking points.
ThinkProgress has compiled a video documenting some of the instances where it was clear to the audience that Palin was propped up by written responses. Watch a video compilation:
Politico reports that “on at least ten occasions, Palin gave answers that were nonspecific, completely generic, pivoted away from the question at hand, or simply ignored it: on global warming, an Iraq exit strategy, Iran and Pakistan, Iranian diplomacy, Israel-Palestine (and a follow-up), the nuclear trigger, interventionism, Cheney’s vice presidency and her own greatest weakness.”
“The problem for Mrs Palin, however, is that she often seemed to run out of talking points – at which point her answers would devolve into the confusing ‘blizzards of words,'” writes Newsweek’s Andrew Romano.
At the debates during the 2006 gubernatorial race, Palin “frequently stashed note cards behind her nameplate so that she could see them while seated at the candidates’ table,” the New Republic notes.
,Marc Ambinder reports, “Debate rules prohibited candidates from bringing any pre-prepared material with them. Only blank paper and writing utensils were provided. So to the extent that Palin seemed to be reading, it was because she had, during the course of the debate or during Joe Biden’s answers, written down some notes.”