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VP candidates debate how to fix economy

Oct. 5, 2008

Story by Tim Bearden

ST. LOUIS – During these stressful economic times, people like graphic designer Kathy Leszczynski are looking to the presidential candidates for answers.

Thursday night, as vice-presidential candidates Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin squared off in their only debate, the economy was foremost in many people’s minds. Just three questions in the 90-minutes debate focused on the economy, but the candidates managed to mention it in almost every response.

Biden said he and running mate Barack Obama want to help the working class and favor raising taxes on those with incomes of $250,000 or more.

Palin said the economic policies she and running mate John McCain are pushing center on “creating jobs.”

Leszczynski, 33, said she’s voting for Obama-Biden but kept a close eye on Thursday’s debate. She thinks McCain has fallen out of touch and wanted to hear what Palin had to say.

Biden hammered on the idea that Republicans aren’t as in touch with everyday Americans. He accused the Republican presidential candidate of having fallen  “out of touch” on the economy.

“Nine o’clock, the economy was strong,” he said, recalling statements McCain made one September morning while campaigning. “Eleven o’clock that same day, two Mondays ago, John McCain said we had an economic crisis.”

Palin countered, saying McCain saw this coming two years ago and “sounded the warning bell.”

Just minutes after the debate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Palin did a good job of combating Biden’s claim in terms the public can understand.

“Sarah said, in a way middle class people could understand, ‘If you want to keep your job, don’t overtax your employer,'” he said.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said after the debate that Palin’s performance should ease voters’ worries.

“There were doubts raised by Palin during her one-on-one interviews,” Lieberman said, referring to interviews the Alaska governor did with journalist Katie Couric. “She proved those doubts were unjustified.”

Steve Rubel, a 43-year-old freelance web developer, watches MSNBC regularly and eats dinner while watching liberal pundits Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow each night. He voted for Kerry in 2004.

He was looking forward to Thursday night’s debate because he wanted to hear Biden’s side, “to see that he and Obama have a clear understanding of the issues and hear their plans to address them specifically,” Rubel said. “Such as, why are they spending $700 billion to bail out these companies? Is it going to help? As a taxpayer I want to know what that money is going toward.”

At the debate, when asked about the bailout plan, Biden said the Democrats pledged to work on the nation’s economic policy.

He said Obama has laid out “criteria,” such as focusing on homeowners and “treating taxpayers like investors.”

“We’re going to focus on the middle class, because when the middle class is growing, the economy grows and everybody does well, not just focus on the wealthy and corporate America,” Biden said.

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