News Release: Arts and Humanities, Faculty Experts, Politics

Oct. 2,  2008

Debate Expert: Palin Strategy Probably Will Include Attack

There's a lot of credibility on the line for tonight's vice presidential debate, and a top debate expert at Emory predicts that Republican nominee Sarah Palin's strategy will include plenty of attacks on Democratic opponent Joe Biden's positions.

"My guess is that from a strategy point of view, it's better to attack your opponent's position than to worry about going into too much depth on your own positions," says Melissa Maxcy Wade, executive director of forensics and head of Emory's Barkley Forum.

"We call these generic arguments in debate," says Wade. "If you can practice attacking opponent's position, you can make people focus on that and put less focus on your own positions."

Wade is one of only three university debate coaches in the United States who has served on the National Associated Press Presidential Debate Evaluation Panel for every U.S. presidential election since 1976. She says she is relishing this week's debate like no other. "I'm fascinated to watch this." 

Like most analysts, Wade agrees that the stakes are higher for Palin, especially given her rocky performance in national media appearances. "People will be looking closely at her potential for being commander-in-chief," says Wade. "This debate is about the readiness of these candidates for the highest office in the land."

Related story:  VP Debate: Experts Say Watch the Body Language, Word Choice

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