News Center

October 11th, 2012

The VP Debate: Biden’s Antics Energize Dems, But Don’t Deliver Victory

The immediate aftermath of the vice-presidential debate showed that there was no clear winner. It is obvious Joe Biden’s goal was to fire-up the Democrat base that was deeply disappointed in President Obama’s performance last week. To that end, he succeeded. Paul Ryan needed to insure the Romney campaign did not lose any ground. He also succeeded.

In the end, both Republicans and Democrats are pleased with the outcome of the debate. Joe Biden was uber-aggressive throughout. The RNC kept a running count of the times Biden interrupted Ryan: 82 times during a 90-minute debate.

The interruptions were constant, to the point of being extremely aggravating. Paul Ryan did a good job keeping his cool. On the other hand, moderator Martha Raddatz never admonished Biden for the repeated interruptions. She lost control of the debate and let the vice-president dominate the discussion.

The television director showed a two-shot during most of Ryan’s answers. You could see Biden laughing, scoffing, sneering and showing an overall disdain for his opponent. Some viewers in the cable news networks’ focus groups found Biden’s antics very unbecoming.

When the topic turned to abortion and each candidates’ personal views and Catholic faith, Biden could be heard scoffing at Ryan’s answer. It is fortunate for the Democrats that Biden was not on camera at this point. From the sound of it, the vice-president of the United States has no respect for someone expressing his pro-life views. Even a fellow Catholic.

Along with the interruptions and condescension, Biden’s weakest point came very early in the debate. When asked about the situation in Libya, Biden claimed the administration was never told they needed more security. That is patently false and the overwhelming evidence shows that. The Obama administration’s story keeps shifting and Biden’s answer gives the Republicans more ammo in the final weeks of the race.

Meanwhile, Republican VP hopeful Paul Ryan showed a strong grasp of details, while also maintaining a more presidential demeanor than his elder opponent. He might have been better served to deliver a strong rebuke of Biden’s constant interruptions. One of his best lines was in responding to the infamous 47% gaffe made by Mitt Romney.

“With respect to that quote, I think the vice-president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way,” Ryan said. That elicited laughter from the audience and chuckle from Biden. Overall, Congressman Ryan performed well.

The big question is, did this debate change any voters’ minds or impact the state of the race? It doesn’t seem like it. The Fox News focus group participants said none of them were changing their vote as a result of the debate. The CNN focus group was split evenly. CNN’s post-debate poll gave the slight edge to Ryan, 48%-44%. CNBC’s poll showed a much wider margin of victory, 56%-36% for Ryan. That poll seems to be an outlier, but we will see how the narrative is shaped over the coming days. Update: That was an unscientific online poll.

Overall, this debate will not determine who wins or loses. VP debates rarely do. The Obama campaign might be helped the most if Biden manages to slow the rapid decline of the president’s poll numbers. In the end, this race will be determined by Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, not their running mates. They take the stage again on Tuesday.

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

blog comments powered by Disqus