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.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    79. Yankee_

    At least Ryan didn't make any Big Bird gaffes this week.

    The democratic base loved his behavior. They likened him to Romney the week before. Biden threw a lot of wet toilet paper and some stuck. Let's just say he's no Romney, and wouldn't last 5 minutes in a debate with Romney.

    Ryan let Biden be Biden. Impossible to stop him, so let everyone see what he's really like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    At least Ryan didn't make any Big Bird gaffes this week. It will be interesting to see which of these turkeys has their goose cooked by Thanks Giving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    76. LucyJ

    Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize just for being elected+
    he didn't even do anything

    The Nobel Prize epitomizes everything Obama has ever attained.

    Have you ever seen someone who people have thrown so many accolades at and conferred so many prestigious titles upon who has done so little?

    Foolish people who won't get fooled again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    The winning or losing of this debate will be a short term memory as the main attarctions are still to come

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize just for being elected+
    he didn't even do anything

    If Obama is re-elected will he win the Nobel Peace Prize again
    simply for being re-elected?

    I do find it bizarre EU won the Nobel Peace Prize

    How is Europe trying to be like USSR considered peace?

    Guess I just don't get it

    To me the Nobel Peace Prize represents Radical Left Wing Politicians

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    ref #7373.Curt Carpenter
    10 Minutes ago
    MagicKirin@67"The investments obligation take precedence over the workers...."
    Well first thats the law and why should a union worker's pension take precedence over my investment? Obama did not seem to care about us on the auto bailout.

    Let the union workers pay their fare share, because they don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan
    Joe Biden won the debate

    Biden came off as more like regular folk with a lot more heart+more relatable than Ryan

    Although Ryan did make some good points, he just did not come off as passionate as he did at RNC

    But thing is Joe Biden is not the one running for President
    Obama is

    Although I like Biden
    its not enough to make me want to vote for Obama

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    MagicKirin@67"The investments obligation take precedence over the workers...."

    In that, you've provided a crystal clear snapshot of the New Republican political philosophy. Money (investments) are more important than people (workers).

    That attitude -- I call it "I've got mine, Jack" -- is exactly why I find "New Republicans" so totally repugnant. You put personal greed before humanity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    ref #Had Romney been in office, your shares would have been worthless trash
    Untrue investers got 10 cents on a dollar if the pensions had been eliminated and the union contracts voided we would have done better.

    A controlled bankrupcy would have done that

    And sorry since Unions don't serve non union needs. Screw the unions and their workers

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I do believe that the term "we" as used below, refers to the American people as a whole.
    I'm sure you will agree, MagicKirin, that Americans, as a nation, constitute a larger cohort than those shareholders of whom you speak; as opposed to a year or so ago, when, collectively, we DID own GM & Chrysler.
    Had Romney been in office, your shares would have been worthless trash.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Both candidates are kinda the same; they are both fairly central candidates with similar policies. No government is perfect that's why it seems like Obama is on the back foot however if he was allowed to act freely as the president and hadn't had opposition in both houses then i assume he would have been a lot more productive. If i could vote i would vote for Obama. Romney= Political Shapeshifter

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    @ Mr Mardell ...

    Yes, you were in the late-night bar purely in the interest of research.

    But bartenders know their clientele.

    An order for bourbon over ice might get you one response.

    And an order for a glass of wine might get you another.


  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    63 -

    "Bebe and I have have been friends for 35 years" isn't the least bit disrespectful. A subtle hint that Biden has a lifetime of foreign policy experience as opposed to Ryan's lack thereof, absolutely, but not impolite.

    And the word you were looking for is 'boor', not 'boar'.

    Education will set you free, Repubs... and we all know how much you value "freedom". You monopolized the very word!

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    ref #66
    "We?" I think a heck of a lot of auto workers
    And I think those of us got ourt investment hurt by having the union workers needs come fore ours would disagree. The investments obligation take precedence over the workers according to the law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Thanet@61"We are worse off today than we were four years ago."

    "We?" I think a heck of a lot of auto workers, teachers, firemen, women, students ... would take strong exception to that.

    Granted, the country at large would be a lot BETTER off if the Republican congress had focused on working with the administration & FOR the country instead of doing nothing constructive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    ref #54

    I sympathize with being on both mailing list and if you are bombarded by robo calls I double my sympathy.

    In a primary I got so many calls for a minor position with little difference between the canidates; I ended up voting for the one who called me least.

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Are you sure that Biden wasn't in the bar before you? I found his actions very offensive. Their were a lot of good questions asked and he sat their laughing. He called Ryan "my good friend" reffered to the prime minster as BEBE. Then got angry and talked over Ryan's answers. I believe the Brits would say that he was a "boar".

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    We are worse off today than we were four years ago. A gallon of gas cost less than $1.80 now it is almost $4 a gallon, medium latte at Starbucks then $1.25 now $2.10, movie ticket $3.00 now $5.50. The only thing that has gone done in price is homes. People we need new leadership. (see 24 & 35)


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