Joe Biden has to salvage the Obama campaign

Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention 6 September 2012 Can Joe Biden deliver a knock-out punch to Paul Ryan?

The vice-presidential debate is often thought of as a sideshow, perhaps like the moment of light entertainment in a circus when the clowns come on between the high wire acts.

But there is no place for custard pies tonight. This one matters.

The first presidential debate has shaken up the race. President Barack Obama puts his lame performance down to being "too polite".

His good manners, which looked closer to bored, nervous distain from where I was sitting, have demoralised Democrats and apparently narrowed the polls enough to put Mr Romney in the lead.

There are some more just out, from swing states, that show the same thing.

It is important not to overstate the importance of one moment, and of one week's polls. But right here, right now, it does seem as if the Denver debate could matter quite a lot.

So Joe Biden has to come out swinging to give Democrats some new sense of hope and purpose. Paul Ryan has to punch hard to build on Mr Romney's success.

The debate promises to be both fascinating and substantial.

Hero versus the clown?

Paul Ryan is the young conservative hero because he has come up with a plan to cut America's spending which even some opponents respect because it sort of adds up (although one early admirer has changed his mind).

It also means some pretty severe cuts and would change the way those who are now middle aged get healthcare and pensions. His aim has to be to come over as cool and reasonable and to provoke Mr Biden.

Win or lose, many see him as the future of his party, so he has a lot to prove, and a lot to lose.

By contrast, many within the Washington beltway see Joe Biden as a bit of a joke, undisciplined and loose-lipped.

Maybe. But his bluntness can be appealing to blue-collar voters even as it appals buttoned-up strategists. His speech to the Democratic convention was funny, emotional, loyal and above all an effective appeal to the white working and middle classes.

His aim will be to show that Republican figures either don't add up, benefit the very rich or mean cuts that would hurt America. He is under a lot of pressure to think on his feet and to deliver a series of killer one-liners while showing restraint and discipline.

It could be quite a show.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    80 MagicKirin ‘so he hurt Boris and Coe's feeling when he rightly critcized (sic) their poor job at the Olympics (truth hurts)’

    Or on Planet Earth – the Olympics were a great success – he was trying to show he could handle international diplomacy and would get on better than Obama with traditional allies – he proved the opposite, and even alienated Conservatives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Critical @115
    Smiling game
    Can be hard to read

    Joe Biden, all his life for US poor
    How, poor & middle, fast asleep?

    Obama obliged: 'our system' is 'free'
    Not until rule 'of, by, for The People'
    "American People" deep-frozen

    Ryan follows Romney, economy with truth
    Conscience neatly folded, pressing flesh
    Motives hidden: 'no cuts in tax, just in rates'
    Conscience crushed, service with all-smiles

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    ref #115
    4 Hours ago
    I watched the debate on canadian television and watchers said they thought Biden won it hands down (80% Biden, 12% Ryan and 8% undecided).
    Didn't those same viewers say viewers say Obama won the first debate by about the same margin? Michael Coren said that poll was not right

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    What I took away was theat Biden was rude, obnoxious interupted and his manner will hurt.

    This is like when Ted K pulled that stunt. But no internet and Fox to balance the coverage.

    Ryan won on fact and substance

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    The debate was highly fact-based. 1. Obamacare will become the best healthcare plan for Americans. 2. War is always destructive, and no one understands how Ryan & party are in favour of yet another unwarranted war against Iran. 3. Prolife is such backward-thinking strategy because abortion is people's prerogative, so prochoice is the best principle. 4. Let Mr. Obama and party continue the progress

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    This is what most of America will remember about this so-called debate:

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Raddatz did better than play tiddlywinks (no need for panels of establishment media to discuss her "wisdom"), and Biden provided by example how to use fact based rhetoric to discredit glib "happy talk".

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Ryan accused Dems of not having a record to run on. Yet Romney/Ryan don't seem to have a plan to run on. They tell us with what they're going to do, just not how they are going to do it. We don't get to know that part. Other than more trickle down economics, it's all a big secret.

    Mitt jokes about trickle down govt while he's trying to stiff the middle class with trickle down economics.

  • Comment number 116.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    I watched the debate on canadian television and watchers said they thought Biden won it hands down (80% Biden, 12% Ryan and 8% undecided).

    I am perplexed how Mark and many others saw it as much closer and I felt Biden's laughs and smiles were ones of incredulity at the naive and trite replies and non-replies that Ryan gave.

    Biden came over as credible, down to earth and ready.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    107 jmm

    I rest my case.

    However, not everyone has a liberal or conservative bias--there truly are independents. Moreover, it exists in varying degrees. It's not absolute. And I agree that environment does influence it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    109 IF

    That's pretty funny. All I can say is it doesn't happen as often as your clocks, but it happens occasionally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I applaud Ryan's closing remarks, telling the American people that they have a real, clear and important choice to make next month.

    They do.

    And I thought he did a good job of restating the Romney case.

    The problem is that Romney's economics ideas are refried Reaganomics -- long since tried and failed -- & his foreign policy (if any) lacks understanding & is simply -- very dangerous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    I was astonished when Ryan, responding to the question about negative campaigning, ticked off a laundry list of negatives. Nice speech, my friend, but you chose the wrong moment to deliver it. Ha ha!

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Shows Biden knows same nothing and not more than Obama !
    Biden asked “What would you do differently?” The incumbents inspite the resources at their command can answer own question given O’s ‘do nothing’ foreign policy.
    Biden shows he’s further from his Church than Ryan. Is there really ‘freedom to leave your religion’ in USA. I go away from where it’s unbelievably unsuitable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    99. There are clocks that are right twice a day, too.

    Just listened to a commentator on one of the networks say how well Cong. Ryan had studied up on foreign policy.

    Don't know which is more sad:

    A V-P candidate who was transparently not well prepared on foreign policy, (idiotic on Iran and Afghanistan - the word "airhead" comes to mind),

    or a commentator who doesn't know any better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    OK: Perspective, GWB privatized my 401K - Where am I now?

    In the Tank since the market crashed

    Now the GOP wants to privatize my Social Secutity and Medicaid/medicaid

    Let me be clear....


    Need I say more for the Genarstions that are are following me!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    "our genetic predisposition to have a conservative or liberal bias"

    You missed my family reunion last Saturday afternoon where my mother and her identical twin sister, ages 86, disagreed on absolutely everything but Ohio State football! I think there is a combination of genetics and environment at work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    I have been accused of being the etiquette police in other forums, but I really don't want to limit how people express themselves. I think this is a great place to talk about the news. Analyze the news in our own way. Talk about how it impacts us, and how we feel. Make jokes. Write in haiku. Whatever. I just don't see the value in analyzing the motives and personalities of our fellow commentators.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Seem to me Ryan would have won this debate... if it were not for the abortion thing.

    "If you believe life begins at conception...". Well, what if you don't? Does everyone have to live by the religious belief of those who do? That does seem to be a killer for their otherwise winning position - people will equate this with the likes of Sharia law being enforced on populations in some countries.


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