First, Governor Palin, she has to assume that moderator Gwen Ifill will ask her very specific questions because that's been Palin's weakness thus far. And that's a scary proposition because the governor doesn't really know what areas Ms. Ifill will spotlight and there's no way to prepare for the unknown.
So Sarah Palin must relax and pound out two very specific themes. One, that she's fed up with corrupt politics and will expose the bad guys in Washington. And two, that the Obama-Biden ticket will spend the nation into bankruptcy. That is, if you think things are bad economically now, wait until you see what these guys would do. She should mention Jimmy Carter.
If Palin can hammer home those themes and reasonably answer direct questions, she can win.
Now Senator Biden has a much easier road. With 35 years in the Senate, he can recite policy all day long. And Ms. Ifill will not be able to trip him up. Even if she tries, which mostly likely, she will not.
It's not that Ifill is in the tank. She won't be, but the woman is certainly not a creative interrogator. She'll primarily concentrate on Palin because she knows that's what her PBS audience wants to see.
So all Biden has to do is make the case that things America are bleak and Sarah Palin is clueless. However, Biden can't be too negative. And he can't be mean to the governor. That is the danger for him.
With four and a half weeks to go before the vote, Barack Obama is in a good position. The economy's a mess. People are angry. Obama has wisely stayed out of the congressional fray because at this point, Americans are fed up with Congress. Nobody is prospering on Capitol Hill. The only chance McCain has to regain momentum is for Sarah Palin to help him out tonight, and then next Tuesday for McCain to hammer Obama on his enormous spending track record.
Voters are locked in on the money right now. The economy's everything. Even the War on Terror isn't a major factor any longer in this election. So, there you have it. Good luck to the contestants this evening.
That's the Memo.