WATERTOWN, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2009 -- Political A-listers are hitting the campaign trail today to fire up crowds as Democratic and Republican candidates run neck and neck in three hotly contested elections.
The former Alaska governor is supporting conservative candidate Douglas Hoffman, running for the congressional seat representing New York's conservative, upstate 23rd District. The endorsement somehow made Biden think of oil.
"The fact of the matter is that Sarah Palin thinks the answer to energy was drill baby drill," Biden said Monday at a fundraiser here for Hoffman's Democratic opponent, Bill Owens, referring to Palin's own campaign slogan last year. "No, it's a lot more complicated, Sarah, than drill baby drill."
The former vice presidential candidate did not sit back quietly, responding to Biden on her Facebook page.
"There's one way to tell Vice President Biden that we're tired of folks in Washington distorting our message and hampering our nation's progress: Hoffman, baby, Hoffman!" she wrote.
For Palin, the endorsement comes as she tries to position herself politically, while, some experts say, a win for Hoffman today could signal that she's bringing back elections for the GOP.
"Sarah Palin is gaining a lot from this because she is maintaining a sense that there is still a political race going on between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden," said David Gergen, former presidential adviser and a professor of public service at Harvard University. "And, by the way, she has a big book coming out. I think Sarah Palin gives one of the faces to this movement we've seen, the tea party folks and the town hall folks and this sort of populist resentment that is bubbling up in one place after another."
Closely Watched Election Results
Although these are local elections -- the full-scale, mid-term elections are next year -- the results could be an indication of the country's political mood, hence Biden's replay of last year's presidential race and the White House's big push for some Democratic candidates.
"Off-year elections tend to be about very local issues but they are interpreted in a national sense," Gergen said. "If the Republicans pull off two big victories in Virginia and New Jersey, it will be interpreted as a loss for the president."
With an impetus to avert political pain, it is no surprise that the big guns pulled out all the stops up to the last minute. In New Jersey, residents heard a taped message from President Barack Obama, urging them to re-elect Gov. Jon Corzine.
Voters in Virginia got a taped call from Palin, urging people to "vote to share our principles."
Biden appealed to centrist Republicans, urging them to separate from their extreme right party members such as Palin and pundits such as Rush Limbaugh.
As voters in New York, New Jersey and Virginia head to the polls today, both Democrats and Republicans will be closely watching the results.
"These races may be determined entirely by local factors," Gergen said, "but if the Republicans manage a sweep it will be interpreted as a loss for the president and if the Democrats manage to break even on these races, they will be very pleased."