(SPRINGFIELD, MO.) - While Joe Biden talks about the "big issues" the country is facing - the worsening economic crisis, the need for energy independence, the disappearing pensions for American workers – it's also worth noting that he has changed his tone on Sarah Palin to one that borders on condescension and mockery.
Prior to the debate, Biden said he "respected" Palin and limited his comments to saying "I don't know much about her" when he spoke publicly.
In Green Bay last month, Biden said, "Sarah Palin has made a couple really good political speeches, and she makes a very strong impression and a confident impression."
In Sarasota, Biden was asked how he would treat Palin during the debate, to which he replied, "Well look, the answer is one word: with respect. I mean it sincerely, with respect. She is the governor of a state. She warrants respect, and the only thing that I have to find out and you will have to find out is, what are her views."
During their debate, we did not see the Biden that used cutting remarks as he did with Giuliani last year, when he said the former mayor only knew how to create a sentence with "a noun, a verb, and 9/11".
And while the reaction from critics and voters was that Biden kept his cool and did not come across as arrogant, patronizing, or sexist in their debate, he certainly has a different view and tone when looking back on it now.
"Last week I had a debate, at least I think it was a debate, with Governor Palin," said Biden to huge roar from a crowd in Tampa, Fla.
Biden now peppers lines like that in all of his speeches – lighthearted swipes at Palin, saying to a crowd in Springfield, Missouri, "Isn't she neat?" to howls of laughter.
On Thursday in the state's capital, Jefferson City, Biden said, "Sarah Palin in my debate turned to me – she's really good – Sarah Palin turned to me and she said 'Well, I was only in second grade when Senator Biden was elected to the Senate.' It's true."
Biden then wound up a one-liner and pitched it to the audience. "Well, I should have turned to her and said, Sarah, you were in sixth grade the last time John had a good idea."
He got a standing ovation from supporters. It just so happens, Palin did not use the line about being in second grade in their debate, but at an earlier rally.
While Biden treads the line between directly criticizing Palin and using her to go after McCain, it's clear he's making an effort to acknowledge Palin in a joking only context.
"You can't change, you can't change your approach to global warming if, as my opponent said in our debate, and paraphrase her, she's not quite sure what causes it," Biden said to laughs from the audience in Missouri, and continued to impersonate Palin, saying, "'I don't know how that happens.' 'I don't know where it comes from.' If you don't know where the cause of the problem, how do you solve it?"
Later in Liberty, Mo., Biden joked. "I understand that earlier this year your debate team, your debate team won the Missouri state championship here at William Jewell. I bet John McCain and Sarah Palin right now wish they had asked you for some tips."
"I could use a few myself," he added self-deprecatingly.