Students, profs look forward to VP debate

By Ryan Shelton, Asst. News Editor

Since the now-infamous “Saturday Night Live” Sarah Palin/Katie Couric interview spoof was posted on NBC’s Web site Sunday morning, nearly 3 million people have flocked to the network’s site to view it.

And for some U students, the satirical depiction of the Alaska governor now posted on countless blogs and social networking sites has become interchangeable with Palin’s actual, albeit limited, TV appearances8212;and increased anticipation for the upcoming debate.

Vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin will debate tonight at 7 p.m., in what will be one of Palin’s first live, unscripted, give-and-take appearances on national TV.

“I’ve definitely heard more about Palin from the media,” said Thomas Felt, a junior physics student. “There seems to be a lot of dirt digging, and the only thing I’ve heard about Biden is that he’s quick-tongued. The debate should be really good because we can finally see for ourselves who they are, and what they’re all about.”

Matthew Burbank, chairman of the political science department, said Palin’s speech at the Republican National Convention and the popularity of the SNL skits have added additional interest to the debate.

“This is probably one of the most anticipated vice presidential debates in quite some time,” Burbank said. “Palin has really raised interest because she’s not your typical candidate8212;she’s a woman and relatively unknown outside of Washington or Alaska.”

Burbank said that Biden’s political experience poses a challenge for the often verbose Delaware senator: He must avoid lecturing Palin, but cannot come off as being too easy on her.

“Biden would likely be presumed to have an advantage, but it’s entirely possible that he may come across as looking worse than her,” Burbank said.

U College Republicans President Heather Berg called the recent SNL Palin spoofs “ridiculous,” and said campus GOP supporters are excited to see Palin in action.

“She’s kind of been hidden from the limelight so I’m excited to see how she does, how she handles Biden. He’s kind of a bully,” Berg said. “I’ve seen one of the SNL sketches and it was kind of funny, but they’re based on false stereotypes.”

Berg said the College Republicans plan to attend a debate watch party at the state’s Republican Party headquarters. The Hinckley Institute of Politics had planned to host the watch party but canceled due to the Utes’ football game against Oregon State University.

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The Associated Press

This photo provided by the Palin Campaign shows Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, preparing for her first and only debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Sedona, Ariz., ranch of her running-mate, Sen. John McCain, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. On the left is McCain-Palin campaign senior policy advisor Randall Scheunemann. The debate will take place Thursday in St. Louis, Mo.