Amen to this, from the LA Times:
When she appeared for a candidates’ forum in front of a room filled with unionized Alaskan electrical workers during her run for governor in early October 2006, Sarah Palin was woefully unprepared. When the union members grilled her on labor policy, Palin faltered.
Afterward, a furious Palin cursed in anger and berated her staff, recalled two former senior campaign aides who blamed her unwillingness to bone up on workplace issues for the blunder.
But just a few weeks later, when Palin jousted with her two main rivals during critical pre-election debates, she was much more at ease. She distilled policy questions into simple answers and countered her opponents attacks with verbal thrusts delivered with a sunny smile.
When one moderator asked what she would do if one of her unmarried daughters became pregnant, Palin had a ready answer, defending her antiabortion stance and deflecting the question toward her male rivals: “I would choose life. And I am confident you will be asking my opponents these same scenarios?”
During Palin’s brief exposure to the high-stakes environment of political debates, she has unnerved both her handlers and her opponents. At times she has been handicapped by her lax approach to learning the nuances of policy and state issues, but she has also projected a Reaganesque ability to offer up pithy answers and charm on camera.
“The political landscape here is littered with people who have underestimated Sarah Palin,” said Eric Croft, a former state representative who ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006 and appeared with Palin during several early forums.