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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Sales Co-ordinator

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Energy Sales Consultant

£25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Bid Writer – Energy Markets

£35000 Per Annum DOE: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Com...

Data Analyst (Requirements gathering)

£23000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Data Analyst vacan...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil