The VP Candidates’ Debate

Ryan had the better arguments, Biden bullied and postured. Biden won by firing up the target audience of discouraged Democrats, and by distracting the attention of the other target audience of low-information voters away from the Obama administration’s failures. (Distracting voters from his administration’s record is one of Obama’s main tactics.) Ryan was either too nice and too collegial as a matter of personal style, or perhaps tried too hard not to alienate undecided females who make voting decisions based on candidates’ demeanor. Biden was very rude, but it was clear from watching the subsequent interviews on Fox with a Luntz focus group of undecideds that many of these voters interpreted Biden’s crude domineering behavior as evidence of his skill and long experience. Whoever coached Biden to posture and interrupt knew what he was doing. The debate moderator, perhaps sensitive to pre-debate publicity about her friendship with Obama, made an effort to appear unbiased. Maybe it was a sincere effort. However, she asked Ryan more hard questions, tolerated Biden’s filibustering and his relentless tactical interruptions of Ryan, and allowed Biden to speak more overall. It may be that Obama gained no net support from this debate, but if he stopped Romney’s momentum for a while then he won a victory. The next few news cycles will be full of discussions about the debate rather than Obama’s failures.

11 thoughts on “The VP Candidates’ Debate”

  1. I guess the likability of the vice president isn’t important, but I do think it was alienating – especially to women. Alpha males may attract, but not aggressive guys whose laughs don’t go to their eyes. Rudeness from people like that seems more pathetic than offensive, but certainly not a sign of gravitas. More that he’s off his meds. Maybe its just a nervous tick but he didn’t look a heart beat away from the presidency material. Ryan, on the other hand, seems to have unlimited resources of cool. Which do you want beside the president in the situation room?

  2. The debate was like a professional wrestling match. Biden was the loud mouth champion who specialized in cheap shots. The referee was in his corner. Ryan was the honest good guy who played by the rules. The judges (the MSM) ruled Biden the winner.

    Now in the next match perhaps Romney will play by Biden rules and defeat both the referee and the Prince of Darkness – beating them at their own game.

  3. Biden was so irritating I could not call this a “debate” and the moderator should have told him to shut up – I am thinking his constant interupting, smirks, was more harm than good for him – we shall see

  4. Biden’s visuals on the split screen and Gore vs Bush 2000-like interruptions played into the arrogant Obama/Democrat image.

    The WSJ post-debate headline was The Bully vs. the Wonk. The Veep’s strategy: Show contempt for your opponent.

    Ryan was presidential — in a wonkish sort of way — and above all non-threatening…and did I mention P-90X cute for the single ladies? (See Bill Clinton on the hotness factor for female voters)

    Ryan’s foremost goal was to avoid a Dan Quayle mistake. In that he succeeded.

    IMO, Ryan’s performance reinforced Romney’s image as a good judge of people by making a contrast with Biden via being adult. It also showed how biased the ABC moderator was as she repeatedly cut off Ryan’s replies.

    The moment of the debate was Ryan’s comment to Biden — “Mr. Vice President, I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think everyone will be better served if we don’t keep interrupting each other.” The immediate visual that came to mine was from the 2000 debate when Gore walked up to Bush’s podium, stood there trying to be menacing, and Bush simply nodded dismissively at him with a smirk and carried on.

    The bleeding out of the Obama campaign with Independent and Republican voters will continue.

    The Mason-Dixon poll has Romney up by 7% in Florida and another poll has Romney up by 7% in Virginia. Romney now has the entire Bush 2004 Southern Republican base in his back pocket.

  5. If the swing states are the area of contest, the undecided’s, especially working women and under/unemployed independents of all genders, are the decisive voters. Ryan clearly presented himself and his ideas as more appealing to them. While he might not have won a significant number, at least he didn’t make them uncomfortable. Biden probably did. These are folks who generally are tired of posturing and want reasonable solutions they can understand. Those Biden had were probably obscured by his delivery and lack of civility. Unfortunately, a number of Ryan’s were interrupted and cut short by both Biden and the “moderator”. Hopefully, enough got through and I found his closing statement compelling, especially compared to the Gaffer’s. Axlerod’s style was clearly to be seen in Biden’s performance. It won’t be easy for Barry to try to do something similar in a town hall format without coming off as completely rude and arrogant. He’d wear that well. I doubt Romney would defer.


  6. Here’s the key take away: “Biden won by firing up the target audience of discouraged Democrats …”

    Everyone agrees that Biden’s performance fired up the Democrat base. That is all the Obama campaign will hear about. In particular, that is all Obama and Biden will hear about. The conclusion will be that Obama needs to do the same thing to Romney next week.

    One problem.

    For everyone who wasn’t part of the Democrat base, Biden was a prize a**hole.

    The only thing keeping Obama in the race today is his personal likability. If he goes into the debate next week and follows a “Biden” strategy, i.e. makes himself an a**hole, his likability drops into the cellar (low 30s). At that point, game over.

    Will that happen?

    From what little I’ve had time to read this morning, the base is ecstatic. That’s all people inside the echo chamber will hear, so that’s where the clowns on Obama’s campaign staff will lead him.

  7. Intrade’s numbers didn’t change. Maybe it’s a wash. There were several points at which Biden left himself wide open and Ryan didn’t press. The already-noted contradiction between “we didn’t know” in Libya and “we will know as soon as Iran is close to getting a bomb” was one. Another was the moment when Biden said re abortion that he doesn’t believe in imposing his preferences on others — Ryan could have pointed out that the Obama administration believes in imposing its pro-abortion ideology on religious institutions.

    I suppose it could have been worse.

  8. The Intrade numbers did not change because no one but us nerds care about the VP’s.

    In the 2000 Presidential debate referred to upstream by Mr. Wolfsberger, I recall Al Gore audibly sighing when Mr. Bush gave an answer he didn’t agree with. That translated very poorly. One political commentator said it reminded American women of their condescending ex-husbands.

    This up-close split screen utilized in the first two debates has not served Obama/Biden well. The frequent smirking last week from the President when criticized by Mr. Romney simply looked unpresidential and conveyed a quality of being unconcerned. Not good when most do not feel the nation is firing on all cylinders. Last night Biden translated as belligerent, also not particularly good.

    Neither Ryan nor Biden were particularly impressive last night. The Chris Matthews’ of the left did get their red meat that they so desperately needed. However, in terms of impact on the election the results are nil. That is why Mike Dukakis currently hangs out with no secret service bodyguards. Because nobody votes for the VP’s.

  9. The worst part of the debate was Biden taking blaming and responsibility ducking to new heights. We are used to the problem with the economy being blamed on Bush and the Congress, with the White House accepting no responsibility for the trillion dollara year deficits, rampant growth in food stamps and continuing unemployment.

    Last night Biden blamed the joint chiefs for bailing out of Afghanistan early and the security staff for Libya – the people who risk their lives for us.

    These guys are the worst kind of leaders – the kind that holds itself accountable for nothing and blames everything on someone else.

  10. Remember when — way back in 2008 — serious people claimed that Biden would add “gravitas” to the ticket?

    So much for that claim (which I thought was funny even then).

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