Palin Advisor: Tonight is an opportunity

ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala report: Palin advisor Tucker Eskew tells ABC News tonight's debate is an "opportunity" for Palin to speak directly to the American people with no filter and show what she's made of.

It's also an opportunity to turn around days of bad press.

"Things are good," Eskew said of Palin's level of preparation and readiness for tonight.  "Get outside the media bubble and things are really good."

After two full days of debate prep at Sen. John McCain's Sedona, Ariz., ranch, Eskew said Palin is relaxed and ready to go up against Biden, who he labeled "a lion of the Senate."

"He thinks it's a lion's den... She thinks it's an opportunity," Eskew said of tonight's ninety-minute debate.

A Palin aide said it was McCain's idea to have Palin prepare at the ranch with her family in tow, to provide a more relaxed atmosphere.

Palin aides are fully aware that the Governor has taken a beating in the press and on the comedy circuit over the past few weeks.  That Saturday Night Live sketch from last weekend has had more than four million hits online.

And beyond the comedy, there is serious trouble brewing for the McCain campaign.

The latest ABC News poll indicates Palin is now more of a drag than a boost to the GOP ticket.  Sixty percent of those polled on September 29 did not think Palin has the experience it takes to serve effectively as president, up 15 points since early September.  And just 46 percent think Palin "understands complex issues," while 49 percent think she does not.

But they remain confident that she can hold her own tonight. 

"I've been hearing about his senate speeches since I was like in the second grade," Palin said of Biden in a recent interview with CBS' Katie Couric.  "I'm the new energy, the new face, the new ideas."

Palin's debate preparations have been a mix of reading, listening to oral presentations and engaging in mock debates.  A foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, played the role of Joe Biden.  Aides say Palin has not been asked to memorize anything.

Still, her sister told Glamour magazine it is "absolutely phenomenal what my sister can learn in a short amount of time."  She also said, "What's happening to Sarah Palin right now is like the worst college exam cram period ever."

One memory expert says-- despite what you might think-- cramming can work just fine.

"It's better to overstudy than to understudy," says Mark McDaniel, Professor of Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis where tonight's debate will be held.

"Cramming is a useful technique if one is only worried about bringing that information to mind immediately in the next day or so. If one wants to bring the information to mind over the long term, it's not the best technique.  If one wants to be able to be facile with bringing that information to mind under stress, such as in a debate, under a nationally televised audience, cramming may not necessarily be the best technique," McDaniel says.

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