Joe Biden and Paul Ryan have wrapped up the sole vice-presidential debate of the campaign, a much more spirited affair than the first Obama-Romney showdown. Unlike that presidential debate, no clear winner is being anointed. Some highlights:
- Testy early: Ryan goes after Obama's response to the Libya attack in particular and foreign policy in general. Biden breaks in: "With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey, because not a single thing he said was accurate."
- One of the things Ryan said: Obama's Mideast policy is "making the world more chaotic and us less safe."
- Unemployment: Ryan points out that unemployment in Biden's hometown of Scranton is 10%, up from 8.5% since Obama took office. “That’s how things are going all across America,” Ryan said. "That's not how things are going," Biden chimed in. Ryan's line "might have been one of the most powerful punches he threw all night," writes Rosalind S. Helderman at the Washington Post.
- 47 percent: Obama didn't address the matter at his debate, but Biden did. “These people are my mom and dad,” he said. “They pay more effective tax than Gov. Romney pays with his federal income tax.” The Hill
- Laugh line: Referring to Romney's 47% remarks, Ryan said that as Biden well knows,"sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way." (But "I always say what I mean," retorted Biden, who added that Romney's "soliloquy" on the 47% was no mere mistake.)
- Taxes: “There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending,” Ryan said of his opponents. Addressing the camera, he said, “Watch out middle class, the tax bill is coming to you.” Biden, on the other hand, said the Ryan-Romney plan is the one that would hit ordinary Americans. “The middle class got knocked on their heels. The great recession crushed them. They need some help now.”
- Ryan zings: "I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don't interrupt each other," he said in a clear reference to Obama's debate performance.
- Moderator: Martha Raddatz of ABC is generally earning high praise for how she handled things. Huffington Post
- Full transcript: NPR has one from the Federal News Service here.
A theme emerging:
- "At the least, Paul Ryan has been able to get Joe Biden to react tonight. In the first half hour, we've seen the vice president, huff, fold his arms, declare Mr. Ryan is spewing 'malarkey' and that 'this is stuff!' The congressman has not shown the same emotion." Danny Yadron, Wall Street Journal
- "As we pass the midway point, the debate has shaped up as a contest between an extraordinarily aggressive, frequently-interrupting Biden and a more restrained, even subdued Ryan. How that plays at home is anyone’s guess—but it’s a real role reversal from last week’s Obama—Romney forum." Alexander Burns, Politico
- "Biden has been an explosion of reactions all night: laughing, rolling his eyes, grimacing, sighing, furrowing his brow and practically bursting out of his skin to jump at every answer. The question is: How will it play?" Michael D. Shear, New York Times
- So how did it play? Probably depends on your party, notes AP. GOP strategist Karen Hanretty likened Biden to the "crazy uncle" at Thanksgiving, while Sen. John Kerry tweeted that "by the end of this, Ryan may vote for Joe."
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