Despite the rave reviews for Palin, it was not all perfect. Twice, she referred to the U.S. commander Gen. David McKiernan as "General McClellan," who was a Civil War general.
But as telling as her gaffe was Biden's refusal to pounce. The Delaware senator had consulted this past week with several female Democrats to ensure he would not appear to come off as bullying or chauvinistic.
Though the debate opened with talk of the ongoing economic crisis, the most heated exchange centered on the war in Iraq, with Palin calling the Obama-Biden plan "a white flag of surrender" and Biden calling the plans of Palin, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and President Bush "dead wrong."
"We will end this war," Biden said. "For John McCain, there is no end in sight to end this war. Fundamental difference."
Palin accused Democratic presidential-nominee Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., of voting against funding for U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and chastised Biden for defending the move, "especially with your son in the National Guard."
Both Biden and Palin have sons in the military on their way to serve in Iraq.
Biden countered by pointing to another Senate vote and claiming, "John McCain voted against funding for the troops."
Palin said unlike the Democratic ticket, she and McCain did not support a timeline for troop withdrawal, and would wait for imput from generals in the field before making the call to pull out troops.
"Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq and that is not what our troops need to hear," Palin said. "We cannot afford to lose there, or we will be no better off in the war in Afghanistan either. We have got to win in Iraq."
Biden continued his attack.
"John McCain has been dead wrong ... on the fundamental issues relating to the conduct of the war," McCain said. "Barack Obama has been right. There are the facts."
One day after the Senate passed a controversial Wall Street bailout bill and on the eve of an expected re-vote on the bill in the House of Representatives, the economy took a central role in the debate.
Biden and Palin each placed blame for the ongoing economic crisis on the current administration and touted the plans of their running mates.
"The economic policies of the last eight years have been the worst economic policies we've ever had," Biden said during the first moments of the debate. "As a consequence, you've seen what's happened on Wall Street. If you need any more proof positive of how bad the economic theories have been -- this excessive deregulation, the failure to oversee what was going on, letting Wall Street run wild -- I don't think you needed any more evidence than what you see now."
He touted Obama's proposals to increase regulation and cut CEO golden parachutes.
Palin used the opportunity to try to bring the issue down to a "soccer mom's" point of view.
"Go to a kids' soccer game on Saturday and turn to any parent there on the sideline and ask them, 'How are you feeling about the economy?'" she said. "I'll bet you're going to hear some fear in that parent's voice, fear regarding the few investments that some of us have in the stock market. ... Fear about, how are we going to afford to send our kids to college? A fear, as small-business owners, perhaps, how we're going to borrow any money to increase inventory or hire more people."