The stakes for tonight’s debate were raised following President Obama’s “disappointing” performance in the first debate. Note, I did NOT say “disastrous” or some other equally cataclysmic adjective like the rest of the Media has because truth is, the President’s first debate was NOT a “disaster”. Think about this fact: after the debate, no one (serious) was claiming President Obama committed any serious gaffes, told any huge lies, or embarrassed himself. The worst anyone had to say was that he appeared “unprepared” and “failed to challenge Romney” on any of the dozen or so “lies” he told. So all Vice President Biden had to do tonight was challenge Romney/Ryan’s lies.
So how did the candidates do? I’m sure by the time you read this, pundits will be calling it “a near draw with slight edge to Biden” (the CBS “Snap Poll” gave Biden a big win, 50% to 39%, while the CNN poll gave the win to Ryan, 48% to 44%). Both spoke with passion, but Biden clearly had a stronger grasp of the details, challenging Ryan on more issues. Biden pushed HARD on ending the war in Afghanistan, avoiding war with Iran, and the efficacy of tax cuts for the wealthy. When Biden mentioned Romney’s “47%” remark and Ryan’s own “30%” remark, Ryan got the first laugh of the night by saying he “mispoke. Joe, you know about that.” (Biden got a laugh himself later responding to a Ryan remark, “Now you’re Jack Kennedy!”)
On at least three occasions, host Martha Raddatz pushed Ryan for details on exactly “How” the Romney team would achieve what he was claiming they would do, and not once did Ryan offer a single detail. On their tax plan, when asked how they can cut taxes “20% across the board” and still cut the Deficit, Ryan refused to explain just how, only to offer (quote) “a framework”.
I DO feel Ryan flat-out lied on at least two occasions, claiming a Romney Administration “would keep the exceptions of rape, incest or life of the mother” for abortion, but BOTH Romney and Ryan are on the record of supporting the “Personhood Amendment” that would trump those exceptions. Ryan also denied their Medicare Plan would not cut benefits, but the entire point of “premium support” is to cap how much people receive, and if that amount is not enough to pay for your insurance, YOU will have to make up the difference. (Ryan also claimed Medicare recipients would not be “waiting for a check at the mailbox”, when in fact Romney admitted to Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” that receiving “a check” is “essentially it” in describing his Medicare Plan.)
One thing the Romney/Ryan campaign has been saying for weeks is that President Obama has “an indefensible record”, and while VP Biden did defend the Obama record on a host of issues, he (IMHO) left a number of them on the table, never once using the word “obstruction”, choosing instead to use the less combative term “opposition”. An odd choice since the Vice President had no problem getting quite combative on several issues (be looking for video of Biden getting quite animated over “Protecting Medicare & Social Security” and taxes.)
No matter how you think tonight’s debate went, the Right will declare a Ryan victory simply for standing up to the more experienced Joe Biden and not saying anything wildly contradictory (or so they think). Personally, I think the most tonight’s debate did was stop the bleeding for the Obama campaign. Expect poll movement to stiffen until the next debate next Tuesday.
(Oh, BTW: No mention of “Big Bird”.)
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