Biden puts the fire back into Obama's re-election campaign


Danville, Kentucky

Paul Ryan and Joe Biden yesterday fanned out to the vital battleground state of Ohio, each seeking to capitalise on their rambunctious and compelling vice-presidential debate here, generally judged to have been – in football parlance – a high scoring draw.

In their 90-minute match-up each did what he had to do. Mr Biden thrilled Democrats by doing what Mr Obama so conspicuously failed to in his encounter with Mitt Romney last week. He took the battle to Republicans, challenging Mr Ryan at every turn, from foreign policy to health care and the economy, even on the delicate and highly personal issue of abortion.

But the Republican, who is 27 years Mr Biden's junior, would not be browbeaten, scoring several sharp hits of his own in his first appearance on so daunting a national stage. He also avoided any major mistake that might have taken the wind out of Mr Romney's sails, when the latter has drawn even in national and state polls, even taking a slight lead in some.

On the issues, both Mr Ryan and the vice-president set out the positions of their respective campaigns that offer American voters one of the starkest choices of any recent election. But their styles were very different.

Mr Ryan was more measured and analytical, as befits a fiscal expert and chairman of the House Budget Committee; Mr Biden came across as a mixture of weathered elder statesman and folksy attack dog. Frequently interrupting his opponent, he smirked and smiled, sometimes breaking into sardonic laughter to emphasise his dismissal of what his opponent was saying. "With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey," was Mr Biden's response when Mr Ryan condemned "the unravelling of Obama foreign policy" laid bare by recent events in the Middle East.

Post-debate reactions mirrored that contrast. "These guys have been peddling shell games and lies," Maryland's Democratic governor Martin O'Malley said of the Republican candidates, "and Biden called them out." Republicans focussed more on Mr Biden's demeanour, arguing he had damaged his own side.

Karl Rove, the former top strategist of George W. Bush, compared the vice-president's laughter with Al Gore's sighs during his debate against Mr Bush in 2000, for which the former was widely criticised. Minutes after the debate was over, the Republican National Committee released an online video, "Laughing at the Issues."

On one thing most commentators were agreed, the raucous proceedings in Danville were great entertainment. How many minds will have been changed is another matter. Historically, vice-presidential debates have been a B-feature. The snap verdicts were mixed.

A CNN instant survey of registered voters had Mr Ryan the narrow victor by 48 to 44 per cent, but a similar exercise by the CBS network had Mr Biden a convincing winner. The latest crop of polls confirms that the presidential race is neck and neck, not only at a national level, but in the handful of battleground states, above all Ohio, Florida and Virginia, where the result on November 6 will be determined.

Intrade, the predictions market which has an impressive record tracking US elections, yesterday put the likelihood of an Obama win at 63 per cent, down from almost 80 cent before the president's poor showing in his first debate and the ensuing poll boost for Mitt Romney.

The focus now shifts to the next presidential debate, at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York next Tuesday. Mr Obama took yesterday off from the campaign trail to hone what is sure to be a more aggressive performance than last week, when he let many dubious assertions by Mr Romney pass without objection, to the dismay of his supporters. For a few days that void has been filled by Mr Biden's feisty performance here.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk