From The Vancouver Sun:
It’s the U.S. election debate that most interested observers have been eagerly waiting for – Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden against Republican VP choice Sarah Palin – but don’t expect them to get into many verbal exchanges.
According to a report in the New York Times Saturday, the campaign of Senator John McCain has fought for tight rules on how the VP debate will run, limiting the chances of anything other than short answers, and ensuring the debaters will not speak directly to one another for anything more than short periods.
This in contrast to the Presidential debates, in which Senators Barack Obama and McCain will be allowed to address each other, argue, and present rebuttals for five minutes per question, after a two-minute answer period.
The reasoning behind the tighter VP rules? According to The Times, McCain advisers were concerned that letting Palin, a relative rookie when it comes to debating national and international policy, go toe-to-toe with Biden, would leave her at a disadvantage.
The Obama campaign was reportedly not involved in the discussion, with advisors to Biden claiming they were comfortable with whatever rules were put in place. The negotiations were between the Commission on Presidential Debates, a non-partisan organization, and McCain advisors.
From The Washington Post:
Under the plan agreed to yesterday, Palin and Biden will have less time than McCain and Obama to reply to moderators’ questions and discuss each other’s answers. And there will be no guidelines given to Gwen Ifill of PBS, moderator of the vice presidential debate, as to subject matter, allowing her to mix in questions about foreign and domestic matters, the sources said.
The Commission on Presidential Debates […] had hoped the campaigns would agree to the same longer segments for the vice presidential aspirants as those adopted in August for the presidential debates.
Palin and Biden will each have 90 seconds to respond to questions, followed by a two-minute period for discussion between the candidates.