The two vice-presidential candidates put on a great show on Thursday in front of the American people. Paul Ryan comes out with the slight edge in this one, as he remained consistent throughout. He definitely triumphed on style points as Joe Biden’s incessant smiling, chuckling, and use of the word "malarkey" came off as very condescending during the debate.
To everyone’s surprise, Paul Ryan was on point when it came to foreign policy. The debate unexpectedly started with the topic of Libya and it played directly into Ryan’s strength. Biden was fumbling trying to make up for the slow response by the Obama administration in regards to the protests in Libya and Egypt as well as the death of the ambassador. Biden was sure to recover soon enough, once they got onto domestic issues and the economy.
Biden frequently interrupted Martha Raddatz and Congressman Ryan, and it came off as rude. However, Biden was able to rebut effectively each time by trying to call out Ryan on facts that he thought were false. He significantly compensated for the President in this contest by coming off much more aggressively. Paul Ryan was caught on the edge when it came down to specifying his tax loopholes. When the issue of revenue neutrality came up, Biden hammered the point that the Romney plan was lacking specifics and he had the moderator pressing Ryan as well. Biden came out of that confrontation on top as he was able to convey that Obama’s tax plan may provide more relief to the middle class than Romney’s.
The best part of the contest was the debate on social issues. Both candidates stuck to their guns and became visibly emotional when talking about their faith and abortion. They both presented logical arguments supporting their points on an issue that severely divides the American populace. Irrespective if the viewers were pro-choice or pro-life, the rationality in both arguments came through effectively.
Ryan’s closing statement trumped Biden, however. Biden forgot to thank the Congressman and Ryan immediately pounced on that. Ryan provided a clear choice at the end of the debate while Biden failed to do so.
Overall, both vice presidential candidates did an excellent job sticking to the issues and being incredibly substantive. Although the fact checkers are bound to sink all rhetoric in this debate into oblivion, both candidates kept each other to the discussion at hand and challenged each other effectively. The final grades on the debate are a B+ for Paul Ryan and a B for Joe Biden. Ryan’s consistency gives him the slight advantage, but Biden kept it close.
This debate was incredibly entertaining and provided greater fireworks than the presidential contest. Unfortunately, we wont be able to see more debates between the two vice presidential candidates, but hopefully their fire will motivate Obama and Romney to be more aggressive in their next debate and provide a better substantive and emotional show to the American people.
For a full recap of the vice presidential debate, including play-by-play analysis as it went down live, see here.