Liberals hoping for a reboot of the presidential campaign that would wipe Barack Obama’s disastrous debate performance from the public consciousness faced another disappointment as Vice President Joe Biden’s grinning, laughing and disrespectful performance was panned by commentators and pollsters.
A CNN poll taken immediately after the debate with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan found that challenger won 48 percent of the vote to 44 percent. The network also said Ryan bested Biden in virtually every other category.
The poll showed that 28 percent said that Ryan helped Mitt Romney more than Biden helped President Barack Obama, while just 21 percent said the other way round. Other responses showed that Ryan was considered more likeable by a 53 to 43 percent margin; he expressed himself better by 50 to 41 percent and seven out of 10 respondents said Biden spent more time attacking his opponent.
The likeability factor played out in social media.
According to a roundup of Twitter comments in Politico, Biden’s “Cheshire Cat” grin was the dominant meme. The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway noted that “Joe Biden’s laughing through talking about Iran sanctions?” while the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard wrote, “Can’t tell yet if Biden’s smirking, laughs, eye-rolling, head shaking, works for him or not against the oh-so-young looking eager Ryan.”
The New York Times’ Ashley Parker observed that “Biden’s grin is Cheshire Cat caliber,” and former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer said, “Biden is at risk of having his laugh come across like Gore’s sighs. He should knock it off.”
The Washington Times’ Brett Decker said Biden’s “obnoxious, smirking, rude behavior on the debate stage was the most disrespectful performance of any presidential or vice-presidential candidate in the history of televised election debates.”
Biden’s lexicon during the debate was loaded with such words and phrases as “malarkey,” “bunch of stuff,” “loose talk,” “not true,” “let me translate that” “not mathematically possible,” “this is amazing.”
However, Ryan refused to be bowed by the older man’s attempts to talk down to him and belittle his points, hitting Biden with a torrent of detailed figures.
There was a clear difference in style as Ryan made serious points and Biden maintained his usual folksy image. “All you seniors out there…” he said as he looked straight into the camera on two separate occasions. Folks, use your common sense,” he said when talking about which side to trust with Medicare.
ABC’s Martha Raddatz, making her debut as a debate moderator, quickly seemed to lose control as the two candidates constantly interrupted and talked over each other. Biden started the tactic but the Wisconsin congressman soon joined in, giving as good as he got.
The audience — which had been asked not to cheer, clap or make any other noise — burst into laughter when Ryan referred to Romney’s infamous 47 percent speech. "The words don't always come out the right way. You know how that is, Joe,” he said to the gaffe-prone vice president.
Biden responded, "If you heard that little soliloquy on 47 percent and think it was a mistake, I've got a bridge to sell you."
Ryan’s main point was to attack Obama as a weak president. “We get speeches, we are not getting leadership,” he said.
Ryan made a strong point by asking Biden if he knew what the unemployment rate is in his home town of Scranton, Penn. “It’s 10 percent, he said. “It was 8.5 percent when you came into office.”
Tax policy was one of the most contentious issues with both Ryan and Biden talking over each other’s points in the lively debate. Ryan made it clear that if he and Romney are elected the priority would be to cut “loopholes for high income people.”
Ryan also hit Biden hard on Iran, making much of Obama’s decision not to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when both men were in New York last month, “instead going on a television talk show.”
On Afghanistan, Biden made it clear that an Obama administration will pull out in 2014. Ryan said he agreed with the drawdown but did not want to broadcast the date to the enemy. “We don’t want them to put it on their calendar and come back,” he said.
“We want to see the 2014 transition be successful…so it does not become a launching pad for terrorists.”
Ryan called the administration’s muddled explanation of the killing of Chris Stephens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya “the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.”
In his closing statement, Ryan said the Republican ticket would provide America with leaders “who, when they say they are going to do something, they go do it, when they see problems, they go to those problems.
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