Washington, Oct 2 : Sarah Palin has struggled after her successful entry onto the national stage. Though she continues to attract large crowds on the campaign trail and delight social conservatives, her performance in the past few weeks has raised questions, even among conservatives, about whether McCain made a wise choice.
As a result, Thursday's vice presidential debate is shaping up as a career-defining moment for Palin, one that could dictate whether she is ultimately remembered as the GOP's election-year savior or as an overwhelmed neophyte who never belonged on the national stage, CBS News reported.
Conscious of the importance of Thursday's face-off with Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, Palin is in the midst of three days of intense debate preparation with McCain aides at the Arizona senator's Sedona ranch.
Though some believe that expectations have grown so low that Palin is virtually guaranteed to exceed them on Thursday, there is a growing sense that the Alaska Governor must do something positive to counteract the increasingly negative perception of her amongst opinion leaders.
"A week ago, for her to just not drool on herself and be commanding would have been enough," said CBS News consultant and former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers. "I don't think that's really true anymore."
Palin has been widely criticized for her performance in interviews with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric and ABC World News anchor Charlie Gibson, which yielded moments such as Palin's tortured defense of her claim that Alaska's proximity to Russia stands as a foreign-policy credential in an interview with Couric.
Criticism has also been leveled at Palin's handlers, who have limited the media's access to the Alaska Governor to such a degree that the press briefly rebelled against the campaign's tight limits on access.
In the CBS News poll taken just after the GOP convention, Palin's favorable rating stood at 44 percent, while her unfavorable rating was just 22 percent; by last week, her favorable rating had fallen to 37 percent while her unfavorable rating had risen to 29 percent.
Dan Bartlett, a CBS News consultant and former counselor for President Bush, said that Palin will likely benefit from lowered expectations Thursday.