The vice-presidential debate occurred on October 11th, the only matchup of the season scheduled between incumbent Vice-President Joe Biden and Republican nominee for the position, Congressman Paul Ryan.
The event occurred in Danville, Kentucky, and it was an informal setup, with the two candidates sitting comfortably at a desk along with moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News.
After the first presidential debate in which President Obama turned in a less-than stellar performance, the Democrats needed a strong performance from the sitting Vice-President to break the momentum Romney has generated since that time. That is exactly what they got in the job done by Joe Biden.
The 69-year-old Vice-President seemed at ease and relaxed as he assumed the role of an older, worldly-wise father who is giving his black sheep son a serious discussion of “the way the world really works.” Ryan is 27 years younger than his opponent.
Although Paul Ryan did a reasonable job at discussing his viewpoints on foreign policy, Biden was able to successfully frame the discussion to the point where Ryan was on the defensive.
Biden may have also lost some points for decorum as he laughed and chuckled when Ryan was making many of his points. This is the type of behavior that often generates some unfavorable press, as it did for Al Gore when he was heard sighing during one debate with George W. Bush. Fox News, the Drudge Report and Sean Hannity all quickly went into attack mode, accusing Vice-President Biden of being disrespectful and demeaning to the process of the debate.
However, most polls taken after the debate showed that the general public was largely split along partylines when asked who they believed won the exchange. Comedian Chris Rock tweeted “CNN REAL TIME POLL: By Wide Margin, Democrats Want Joe Biden In All Remaining Debates #debate.” While Democrats rallied around the elder executive, conservatives declared the delivery by Ryan to be more presidential.
While the Vice-President had an air of confidence, it may have gone overboard, handing opposition news networks fodder with which to work. However, he did what he needed to do – he came out swinging, which is something that the President failed to do in the first presidential debate. Because of that, he achieved his ultimate goal in this debate, which was to stop the rise by Romney and allow time until the second Obama/Romney matchup without losing more ground in the hotly-contested race. That makes Joe Biden our winner of the week.
Conversely, Paul Ryan missed his chance to deliver an additional blow to the administration in this election, and that makes him our loser of the week.
It seems that Joe Biden watched what his superior did wrong in his first outing and learned from it. If President Obama wants to start gaining momentum in the final weeks before the election, he’s going to need to learn what his second-in command did right during his debate and learn from it as well.
(White House photo)