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Puzzled by McCain

October 5, 2008 |  3:01 pm

By the time a presidential campaign season is over, the journalists who have been covering it will be awash in credentials -– meaning the plastic tags of various sizes that hang on lanyards around their necks.

Credentials allow entry to debates and rallies, onto campaign planes, buses and fundraisers. Conventions have their own special, and ridiculously numerous, credentials. They are larger than normal, and separate ones are handed out for every day of the four-day events.

Rarely are credentials fun to look at. But last week, at the vice presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, the national reporters traveling with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin got a credential with a twist: The front was a crossword puzzle; the back was a list of clues. All were related to the evening’s event.

Among the clues: A four-letter word for “First Dude”? A three-letter word for “SNL lookalike Tina”?  An eight-letter word for “the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull”? A 16-letter phrase that is the title of a book by John McCain? A six-letter word meaning “to engage in a discussion involving opposing points”? A five-letter word meaning “name of terrorist Barack Obama pals around with”? Just kidding about that last one!

(Answers are: Todd, Fey, lipstick, “Faith of My Fathers” and debate.)

--Robin Abcarian