New York, Oct 1 : A review of a handful of Sarah Palin's debate performances in the race for Alaska Governor in 2006 shows a somewhat different persona from the one that has emerged since John McCain named her as the vice-presidential nominee a month ago.
Palin, a former mayor who had become a whistle-blower about ethical misconduct in state government, held her own in those debates, but often spoke in generalities and showed scant aptitude for developing arguments beyond a talking point or two.
There were almost two-dozen in the general election alone; she skipped some, and not all were recorded, the New York Times reported.
She staked out a populist stance against oil companies and projected a fresh, down-to-earth face at a time when voters wanted change. That helped her soundly defeat Frank H. Murkowski, the unpopular Republican Governor, in the primary and former Governor Tony Knowles in the general election.
Her debating style was rarely confrontational, and she appeared confident. In contrast to today, when she seems unversed on several important issues, she demonstrated fluency on certain subjects, particularly oil and gas development.
John Bitney, the policy director for her campaign for governor and the main person who helped prepare her for debates, said her repetition of words was "her way of running down the clock as her mind searches for where she wants to go."
These tendencies could fuzz her meaning and lead her into linguistic cul-de-sacs. She often used less than her allotted time and ended her answers abruptly.
When questioned about the nuts and bolts of governing, Palin tended to avoid specifics and instead fell back on her core values: a broadly conservative philosophy and a can-do spirit.