Friday, October 12, 2012

Vice Presidential Debate Recap...

Tonight's debate between  Vice President Joe Biden and Republican nominee Paul Ryan was clearly superior to last week's round one match-up between Messrs. Obama and Romney. The ninety minute seated discussion ranged across a variety of issues including Libya, Iran the economy, taxes, and foreign policy. The event was moderated by veteran reporter, Martha Raddatz, who I thought was very good.

First of all, I should announce that we actually had two people on stage that seemed interested in making their cases to the American people. Joe Biden was clearly locked and loaded and came out of the gate hard, as expected. Paul Ryan was composed, focused and similarly had a lot to say. From an optics perspective, however, Mr. Biden dominated the debate. That's not to say he won the debate, though I do think it was a slight but clear win for the VP.

I felt Biden was more direct with his answers than Ryan was through most of the evening. That said the VP dodged the opening question of the evening about the security issues in Banghazi two weeks ago, opting instead to detail a broader/safer themed response about this Administration pledging to hold those responsible for these attacks and that via an in-house review, whatever mistakes were made, will not be repeated. Ryan also chose not to answer direct questions about the Romney tax plan by (still) not providing any details about what loopholes would be cut, instead preferring to comment on the value of "bi-partisanship," which I thought was pretty brassy.

Demeanor wise, Mr. Ryan was very appropriate, professional and reasonable with his physical self. Mr. Biden was, at times, too animated. The VP laughed and chuckled a lot during the Ryan responses and after a few moments it became uncomfortable and a bit distracting. Was Biden laughing at the younger man? Trying to portray some opinion of his opponents comments? Something else? Whatever the case, he took it too far and will receive some heat for his conduct. Which on one hand I understand, yet for the Republican party, which hasn't exactly behaved like choir boys during President Obama's first term, to cry foul, is pathetic.

Stylistically, to my eyes, Mr. Biden seemed more confident, quick and Presidential. Mr. Ryan certainly didn't embarrass himself and this experience will likely serve as a warm-up act for 2016. I think both men are nice guys, both perhaps warmer and more genuine than the upper halves of their respective tickets. I would've like to seen less chortling from Biden and more details from Ryan.

Biden's job tonight was to steady the ship for his boss, which I'd say he clearly did. Ryan's job was to not say anything severely stupid, which I'd say he also did. Debates between Vice Presidential candidates don't usually make that much of an impact on the election. Remember when Democratic VP nominee Lloyd Bentsen bitch-slapped Dan Quayle with the "you're no Jack Kennedy" line? Bentsen's boss, Mike Dukakis got crushed by George Bush, Sr.

Twitter reported far fewer tweets during this debate than in the presidential debate from last week. Last week, twitter says that 10.3 Million tweets went out during the Obama/Romney debate, versus just 3.5 million for tonight's debate.

Bottom line, Biden comes out ahead because of a high quality set of answers. Ryan didn't really hurt himself or his ticket-mate. I think the polls will begin to reverse back in Mister Obama's direction by the time of the next presidential debate, next Tuesday.

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