US running mates clash in debate

Joe Biden at the vice-presidential debate in Danville, KY 12 October 2012 Joe Biden got the chuckles over Paul Ryan's debate performance

If Joe Biden's reaction was anything to go by, Paul Ryan should give up his day job and become a standup comedian.

Joe chuckled and chortled, silently shook his head with mirth, and laughed out loud.

President Obama sometimes says he fails because he can't fake emotions. Maybe Mr Biden can't either, but he had a good try, hamming up his disbelief.

Through his music hall amusement, Mr Biden was trying to signal incredulity. His none too subtle message: Paul Ryan's arguments are a joke, and he is laughably callow.

Some found this condescension unattractive and off-putting.

On the back foot

They say generals always fight the last war. Mr Biden's performance was certainly intended to make up for his boss's lacklustre, unresponsive and passive performance last week.

He was strong and aggressive, repeatedly interrupting. The Republicans are portraying that as "out of control".

That may suggest they know Mr Ryan was on the back foot. The reaction to this debate will be far more partisan than the verdicts on last week's presidential clash because there was no runaway victor.

Mr Biden probably cheered supporters and annoyed opponents. Mr Ryan will have done the same, but his calmer performance may have been more attractive to the undecided.

The vice-president's tactic was effective, even if some found it too strong to stomach. It neutered Mr Ryan's own pretty strong performance and repeatedly put him on the defensive, having to explain his position.

Sometimes he did so clearly, but at other times, particularly on what a Romney administration would do in Afghanistan and Syria, he didn't have an answer.

That is not his fault: the Romney campaign has a clear line of attack against Mr Obama's foreign policy, but as yet they have not worked out convincing policies for the future.

A poll of two

This debate was most certainly not a game changer. Afterwards, I spoke to a couple of guys tending a late-night bar (naturally I was there purely in the interest of research). Both had been swept along with the magical mood of 2008 and had voted for Mr Obama.

Both were uncertain how they would vote this year. And neither of them had seen the debate, because nerve-racking playoff baseball and a tight football game were on the TV at the same time.

One sounded as though he would probably vote for Mr Obama in the end, despite his disappointment. He didn't like Mr Romney.

The other said abortion was the biggest issue for his "pro-life" wife, but he wouldn't be swayed by just one issue. My guess is that he won't vote.

My sample of two has a 100% margin of error. But it did reinforce my belief that this election will come down to whether Democrats can turn out people who won't vote for Mr Romney, but who are no longer convinced by Mr Obama.

That means that next week's debate really matters, and Mr Obama has to pull off a performance that is at least as strong as his vice-president - with a lot less laughter.

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US Presidential Election 2012


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  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    ref #38 Biden had no fact and threw the intelligence community under the bus.

    Did you even watch the debate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    "the undecided voter"
    The American political landscape as polarized as it is, you must have had your head buried in sand the last 4 years to not have an opinion as to whom you think should better represent you as president.
    How do you decide the credentials for being president in 90 mins of political debate and banter? - a decision they couldn't take in the successes and failures of a 4 year term

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Biden responded the way many people would like to see a political leader respond to hyperbole, and lies. He was both passionate, focused, and had his facts, and thoughts in order.

    Ryan was calm and had his political message well rehearsed. In my view, he lost because he told the most lies and distorted the most facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    MM you have it so wrong

    Biden was being obnoxious because he could not debate on the facts and record.

    Because of the age difference he got away with it wthout being stopped by the moderator as she should have.

    Biden may have fired up the base but as CNN and NBC both had Ryan as the winner how did this work?

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    24 Thanet

    "...what would expect from a clown."

    A comment like yours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    After almost four years of a failed administration, the longest American recession in history and several trillions of dollars lost on nothing. History will look back at this debate as a clown like Biden all he could do was interrupt Ryan 82 times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Romney's plans are whatever pleases the current audience most. In the end, this means the questions he answers will have at least two answers because there's different views in the country. Then there's the questions he won't answer. Delaying the truth IS lying. Insults an ally, is manipulative liar and a grave risk to the world. GOP attacks "Obama's Wars" but claim US should start war with Syria?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Most coverage of this debate will include the self-deprecating disclaimer that it won't mean much, so it doesn't help either opponent to take themselves or the other too seriously. Everyone expected Ryan to, and in spite of his laugh so did Mr. Biden.

    Much like Stewart vs O'Reilly, anyone who's picked a side could declare theirs the winner, but at least that debate was entertaining.

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I’ve watched Biden since the time he was on the senate committee investigating Fannie Mae loan practices. At that time he defended Fannie, demanded more loans for people who couldn’t afford them and bullied the Fannie Mae whistleblower. Last night he tried similar tactics on another truthful witness but he came off as a bully on laughing gas. Still a clown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Thanet 24. talk about someone who doesnt have a single plan, bishop Romney has failed to expain any of his plans, his only plan seems for us to trust him and he will come clean after the election. Romney and Ryan are the only clowns I see

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Calling out the liars and fear-mongers is "out of control"?

    From women's reproductive rights to gay marriage to attacking yet another middle-eastern country or two, it's clear that the extreme elements of the Republican party will not rest until they get the whole world "under control".

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Proverbs 29:9

    "If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet."

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Biden's laugh was the FCC appropriate response to a campaign that's been running for six years and still can't produce a tax/budget plan that even comes near to adding up. And for the next hundred posters "disturbed" over the laugh, there aren't any undecideds, it's just us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    What a pity you cannot vote for none of the above!! About time US went to a 3 party system, then they can have 3 useless candidates arguing

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    You almost can’t blame Joe Biden for being so unhinged. It must be frustrating to debate when you have a record that is so hard to defend and not a single tangible plan for the second term besides tax hikes, he plagiarizes speeches what would expect from a clown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    FINALLY! Biden called out R/R on their bull$#!7.

    Ryan, eerily calm, is a politician without straight-talk, and still offered no insight into R/R's policies aside from being anti-Obama. Hopefully swing voters weren't turned off by Biden's brash style.

    If the detail-lacking/fear-mongering GOP ticket wins, well, sorry world, some of us tried, don't hate all of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Anyone who work with an utter incompetent yet ambitious boss can easily understand Mitt. Such people are habituated to steal ideas and pass it as their own, take credit where they have no contribution, never take collective responsibility even for their own group(s).
    That force them to lie, show-off & use hierarchy to impose decision that benefit them more than the group or even the company.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Perhaps Biden let himself down on one topic - blaming career civil servants for the misinformation about the Al Qaeda attack on the ambassador to Libya. It would hurt Barack Hussein's image to admit that Al Qaeda is resurgent & ever more threatening to US interests.

    But Biden's plastic smile never fails to tickle the Dem faithfuls' political tastebuds & they adore him, whatever he says.,


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