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Tom’s Opinion: Vice Presidential Debate

Paul Ryan and Joe Biden - 2012 Vice Presidential Debate
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The one and only VP debate is now in the history books. The talking heads have a week to debate the winner or loser before the second presidential debate next week. As with the first debate, a lot of observation was paid to the demeanor of the two men. Smirking, smiling, laughing, sighing, were all directed at Biden while Ryan was described as perhaps being too polite, a little weak, and not on the attack. If you take out all the superficial emotional reactions, I thought both men were pretty equal on points. Both covered the points that their respective bases thought were missing in the first presidential. Reading the transcript I would guess Biden won; I think those watching on TV would assess, not so much that Ryan won, but Biden, through his mannerisms did not do himself any favors tonight.

Did The Debate Change Anyone’s Mind?

There were over 3 million Twitter posts with 26% dealing with the foreign policy part of the debate followed by 21% on the economy and 17% on taxes. Although, this debate was between Biden and Ryan, there is a bigger picture to consider. The jobs of these two men were to “set the table” for the heavy hitters coming to bat next week.

Vice Presidential candidates can say things that Presidential candidates can’t. In the first debate liberals were wondering why no mention of the 47% freeloaders that Romney had voiced earlier in the week. Last night, Joe Biden had no trouble bringing that up and adding Ryan’s comment of 30% not engaged in the economy. Ryan went after Biden hard on the Benghazi incident and other foreign policy issues. They battled further on Medicare and Social Security.

Was anyone’s mind changed? If there was any mind changing I think it would have been on the faith and abortion issue. Ryan very pro-life, while Biden considered himself a strong Catholic in his faith but felt he could not call the shots for others who felt differently. Those who are strong one way or the other might have had their decision made last night if that is their big issue.

Some Final Thoughts

Time for each candidate became an issue in both debates. According to reports, Biden got 41 minutes to Ryan’s 40 minutes and that seemed pretty fair. Biden seemed much more protective of his time than Ryan and did a lot of interrupting and kept asking to make sure he had time to respond to points Ryan was making.

Once again, I will leave it up to the individual viewer to decide who won or lost in his or her own mind. I have been following elections for well over 50 years and I’m not sure I have ever seen such a stark difference between two philosophies as there is in the race.

It will be interesting to see how many people tuned in to this particular debate with competition from Thursday Night Football and the new TV season on both cable and networks. My hope is that the information from these debates will create a more informed voter in three weeks. I hope it will create more interest for the final two debates so voters can vote for someone rather than voting for the lessor of two evils. Maybe that will never be possible but I’m staying optimistic.

 

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