Friday, October 12, 2012 12:03 AM
Who won the vice presidential debate?
Biden, Ryan face off for voters
By Corey Friedman | Times Online Editor
An aggressive Joe Biden defended President Barack Obama’s economic record and attacked Paul Ryan’s budget proposals in the 2012 campaign’s first and only vice presidential debate Thursday night.
Wilson County’s Democratic and Republican leaders offered opposite takes on the debate’s outcome, but both agreed that the candidates stood in sharp contrast.
"I think undecided voters reacted better to Biden tonight, and I think that’s because he’s real,” Democratic Party Chairman Asa Gregory said. "He showed that he’s a real person, a regular person just like them.”
GOP Chairman Gary Proffitt said Ryan’s debate performance would likely help Republican nominee Mitt Romney win the presidency.
"The house is sold,” Proffitt said. "Joe Biden offered the White House for sale, and Congressman Ryan has bought it. It’s sold.”
Pundits said Biden was on the offensive from the outset of Thursday’s debate, held in Danville, Ky. He and Ryan traded jabs over health care reform, tax policy, job creation and national defense.
Both candidates gave opponents opportunities to analyze their body language. Gregory said smirking during Biden’s remarks made Ryan look disingenuous.
"As the other one was talking, both of them had a quirk about them,” he said. "Biden sort of chuckled a lot and I noticed Ryan had a smirk.”
Proffitt said Biden’s laughter made light of the severity of America’s challenges.
"Joe Biden is a laughing joke,” he said. "I’m going to try to get him a job on ‘Saturday Night Live.’”
Gregory said Biden was well-prepared for the debate and gave thoughtful answers to moderator Martha Raddatz’s questions.
"He was prepared to answer anything that Ryan brought up that was slightly off the truth,” Gregory said.
Wilson County’s top Democrat thought Biden also scored points with middle-class voters on taxation and budget issues.
"Biden is the foreign policy guy, Ryan is the budget guy,” Gregory said. "Even on the budget, I feel like Biden had the upper hand.”
Proffitt said expectations for Ryan were high after Mitt Romney scored what many commentators called a decisive victory in his first presidential debate with Barack Obama.
"Ryan is probably going to have his work cut out for him to represent Romney like Romney spoke the first time,” Proffitt said before the debate.
Proffitt said Ryan’s addition to the Romney ticket energized conservatives locally and nationally.
"The morning after Ryan was added to the ticket, headquarters became busy, and we’ve been busy since,” he said.
Biden, 69, represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for 36 years before becoming vice president in 2008. A native of Scranton, Pa., he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988.
Ryan, 42, represents Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district and is chairman of the House Budget Committee. A darling of the tea party movement, the Janesville, Wis. native has submitted federal budget proposals that would slash spending and reduce corporate taxes in hopes of creating more jobs.
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