(Fox News) Both presidential campaigns hit the trail Friday claiming victory in the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.
But it was Palin’s cool and confident performance that prompted analysts to suggest that after more than a week of bad news for Republicans, John McCain can ride a new wind into the final month of the race.
The stakes were high for Palin going into the debate. A series of shaky interviews led prominent conservatives – much less independents and liberals – to question her credentials.
The doubts were coupled with other bad news for McCain – ongoing credit turmoil in the financial markets that didn’t help the Arizona senator’s poll numbers, despite his leading an emergency legislative powwow in Washington, and news that the Republican nominee was pulling out of the battleground state of Michigan.
But Palin pulled off a bravura performance, say analysts.
‘Sarah Palin saved John McCain again Thursday night. She is the political equivalent of cardiac paddles,’ conservative columnist Peggy Noonan, who was caught criticizing Palin in an off-camera moment in early September, wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
‘So, who won? On substance, the edge goes to Mr. Biden. On style, Ms. Palin eked out a close win, enormously magnified by the plain fact that she wasn’t chased off the stage,’ wrote editors at The Dallas Morning News.
Meanwhile, Biden, by putting a hold on his gaffe-prone tongue and showing restraint against Palin, helped Barack Obama’s campaign, analysts said.
One Obama aide told FOX News before the debate started that if all went well for them, most people won’t even remember Biden was there.
‘I think Biden actually did what he needed to do,’ Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers said. ‘He really needed to do no harm. He didn’t really take the bait too much.’
But even as many declared Biden the actual winner of the debate, several analysts renewed their praise of Palin and suggested that the first-term Alaska governor’s defying expectations is a much bigger moral victory.
‘A lot of people, and I include myself in that group, wondered if Sarah Palin was gonna screw up big time. She didn’t,’ said former CBS newsman Bernie Goldberg, a FOX News analyst.
Palin’s performance was a lifeline to McCain as the two presidential candidates head into their second debate tomorrow.