Main Street eager to see vice presidential candidates debate
Voters say they’re paying more attention than ever to the vice presidential candidates in this year’s election and are scrutinizing them closely.
A large majority of voting-age people interviewed said they were definitely planning to watch Thursday night’s vice presidential debate – even those who said it wouldn’t change their vote.
“It’s almost ironic. They seem to have become the main card,” said Tom Sellew, 58, while dining with his wife at the Charlie Horse Restaurant on Main Street in Kingston.
Thursday night’s debate has generated a lot of buzz over how Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who critics say has appeared confused and unprepared in recent media interviews, will perform in an unscripted setting.
On Main streets from Randolph to Kingston, people overwhelmingly cited Palin as a key reason they’ll be tuning in.
“There’s been so much buzz about Sarah Palin in general and her experience,” said Corrie Howe, 29, outside Sudbury Farms on Main Street in Randolph. “I’d like to see her in the debate so I don’t make any judgments based just on what I’ve heard so far.”
The role of the vice president as someone charged with leading the country in an emergency has emerged as a crucial factor in the race.
“The vice presidential candidates are more important this year than in other elections,” said Rich Minton, a Quincy native, who was shopping on Weymouth’s Main Street on Tuesday. “Before, it was just about getting someone from a key part of the country to draw votes.”
Minton, a registered Democrat, said he doesn’t think either presidential candidate is very strong on his own and that their running mates help “balance the ticket.”
In Kingston, Sellew and his wife, Diane, 52, both registered Republicans, said Sen. John McCain’s pick made them more enthusiastic about their vote because they see Palin as a true conservative.
“I feel more comfortable voting for McCain with Sarah Palin as his running mate,” Diane Sellew said. “Now I’m voting for the McCain-Palin ticket.”
As pundits, politicians and even comedians scrutinize Palin heading into the debate, local voters say they’re watching Sen. Joe Biden just as closely.
In Randolph, Howe said she wants to learn more about Biden to boost her confidence in her decision to vote for Sen. Barack Obama in November.
“I don’t know a lot about Joe Biden yet,” she said. “That’s why I’m looking forward to the debates. In the past he has differed a lot from Obama in his voting record.”
And Minton pointed out that Biden enters the debate with a reputation for putting his foot in his mouth.
“Biden has got to make sure he doesn’t say any more stupid things,” he said. “He has a reputation as a loose mouth.”
Minton, and many others, said Biden needs to be careful not to appear like he’s bullying Palin, who is expected to be more aggressive.
Although the debate is expected to touch on both foreign and domestic issues, South Shore residents said in particular they want to hear Palin and Biden address the economy and the fiscal crisis on Wall Street.
“I would like to see them show some concern for the people on Main Street, as they say,” said John Gallagher, 81, a Democrat from Randolph. “They seem to be there to serve their party, and they’ve forgotten us.”
The Patriot Ledger