Morning Brief: Snoozer in St. Louis

Top Story PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images Appearing in their first and only debate Thursday evening, U.S. vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin said little beyond the expected talking points. But if Democrats were hoping for a fumbling Palin, whose recent television interviews showed the Alaska governor often struggling to answer basic questions, they ...

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592249_081003_debate5.jpg
Republican Sarah Palin (R) greets Democrat Joseph Biden (L) on stage for their vice presidential debate October 2, 2008 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Top Story

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Appearing in their first and only debate Thursday evening, U.S. vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin said little beyond the expected talking points.

Top Story

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Appearing in their first and only debate Thursday evening, U.S. vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin said little beyond the expected talking points.

But if Democrats were hoping for a fumbling Palin, whose recent television interviews showed the Alaska governor often struggling to answer basic questions, they would have been disappointed last night. Using folksy phrases such as “heck of a lot” and “darn right,” she stuck largely to prepared statements and adapted them to fit — or ignore altogether — what were fairly predictable questions from moderator Gwen Ifill.

Biden appeared deeply knowledgable, especially on foreign-policy issues such as Darfur. At one point, the Delaware senator appeared to tear up when alluding to his first wife’s death and being a single father. He largely avoided seeming brusque or condescending, though at times got derailed by dwelling on Senate procedure or his own record, rather than that of his running mate, Barack Obama. Neither candidate, however, made any major mistakes.

Politico‘s Roger Simon thinks Palin dominated the debate. “Where was this woman during her interview with Katie Couric?” asks David Brooks in his New York Times column. “She had no problem meeting the exceptionally low expectations,” Dana Milbank quips for the Washington Post. Doubts, however, are likely to linger about her fitness for the country’s No. 2 job, and the debate seems not to have altered the basic dynamics of the race. “Averaging expectations, style and points, it was a wash,” assesses political analyst Marc Ambinder.

The big loser? Ifill, who has been roundly panned by Internet pundits on both sides for failing to keep answers on topic and ask follow-up questions.

Decision ’08

John McCain appears to be conceding Michigan.

The British ambassador to Washington’s frank, seven-page assessment of Obama has leaked to the Telegraph.

A top Vatican official called the Democrats the “party of death.”

Economy

Struggling U.S. regional bank Wachovia has been acquired by Wells Fargo.

Americas

Hundreds of penguins continue to wash up mysteriously on Brazilian shores.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon wants to decriminalize drugs under certain conditions.

California is seeking $7 billion in emergency funds.

Asia

China is allegedly spying on text messages in Skype.

The fighting in Pakistan’s tribal belt is becoming a full-scale war. The families of U.N. staff have been ordered to leave Islamabad, the capital.

Asian markets fell Friday on gloomy U.S. economic news.

Middle East and Africa

The U.S. Defense Department is still paying contractors to produce pro-American publicity in Iraq.

Yesterday’s mosque bombings in Baghdad suggest that sectarian reconciliation remains elusive.

The financial crisis is sparking a surge in anti-Semitism on the Internet.

Europe

The United States should no longer be a “megaregulator,” says Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wants to slow Georgian and Ukraine’s NATO bids.

European leaders are divided on what to do about the financial crisis.

Today’s Agenda

The U.S. House of Representatives is due to vote on the revised bailout bill.

British PM Gordon Brown is expected to reshuffle his cabinet.

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