Now this was a debate: both candidates going after each other in a forceful yet civil manner, providing point and counter-point. Also nice to see the vice-presidential candidates got the memo about blue (Vice-President Biden) and red (Congressman Ryan) ties.
Going into tonight’s debate, speculations abound on the degree to which Vice President Biden would “go on the attack.” The Vice-President’s hand was perceived as being forced due to Obama’s “lackluster” performance in the first presidential debate.
So, how would Biden balance the need to answer Romney’s claims from the last debate (which President Obama failed to do) while also discussing Ryan’s congressional record?
On the first question of the night on Libya, Vice President Biden wasted no time in comparing President’s Obama foreign policy successes and policy stances with Governor Romney’s recent statements.
The fireworks of the night came on tax cuts and Afghanistan. Congressman Ryan seemed to get hung up on the details (or lack thereof) of his (and Romney’s) proposed “20 percent across-the-board” tax cut in federal income tax rates. Expect Democrats to pounce on this in the days to come.
As the debate wore on, Congressman Ryan seemed to get slowed down by requests for more details on tax cuts, troop levels in Afghanistan, and the degree of intervention in Syria. On all three issues, the Vice-President was forceful in his response, pushing the congressman to articulate how his policies were different.
In the end, the Vice President provided the kind of sharp contrast to the Romney-Ryan ticket that most had expected would come from the president, and Congressman Ryan seemed to hold his own, importantly during the first 25 minutes on foreign policy where he was presumed to be at a significant disadvantage.
Voters in both parties are probably feeling good about their respective candidates.
Democrats most likely came away reassured and reinvigorated about their ticket while Republicans are probably relieved Ryan did nothing (or very little) to take away from their ticket’s current momentum.
Kudos to Martha Raddatz for keeping the candidates on task, and to the candidates for being as concise as can be expected in such a setting.
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This post was written by Chris Larimer on October 11, 2012