This vice-presidential debate is way more important than you think

It’s up to Biden to regain the advantage for the Democratic duo

Right: Vice President Joe Biden (Jason Reed/Reuters); Left: Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Normally, the vice presidential debate is a secondary news event. After all, voters choose the top of the ticket on election day. Vice presidential nominees are mostly meant to balance the duo.

The only memorable vice presidential debate moment in recent memory occurred in 1988, when Democratic nominee Sen. Lloyd Bentsen delivered a masterful retort to Republican challenger Sen. Dan Quayle who had tried to equate his comparative young age of 42 with John F. Kennedy’s quest for the presidency at a similar age. Said Bentsen to Quayle: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Still, the Dukakis-Bentsen ticket lost the contest to the Bush-Quayle duo. So much for vice presidential debates and their impact on the election’s outcome.

This debate may be different, though. It is already creating more hype than usual in light of President Obama’s (under) performance on Oct. 3. Polls clearly indicate Americans think Romney won the first debate and that Obama’s advantage is narrowing . Some even have Romney in the lead.

Joe Biden is an experienced debater on the national stage while Republican Paul Ryan’s experience doesn’t go much beyond the House of Representatives. A strong performance by Biden could pave the way for an Obama “comeback” on the second presidential debate on Oct. 16. Considering that Ryan is seen as the darling of the conservative movement with many policies and writings on the record, Biden has a lot of material to draw from and Romney won’t be able to easily dissociate himself from his running mate.

While Obama’s odd performance continues to mystify, the key lesson for the Obama-Biden ticket is to focus on drawig clear differences, and challenging any improvised policy reversals on the debate stage. Romney pulled an “etch a sketch” and moved to the center, and it seemed to have caught Obama by surprise. This shouldn’t happen to the more combative and partisan Biden.

Paul Ryan may be by far a stronger vice presidential nominee than Sarah Palin was in 2008, but, to date, his performance on the campaign trail lacks both energy and synergy with Romney. In 2008, Palin was something of a mystery for Biden. He knew she was conservative, but her appeal went beyond her record as governor, and her knowledge—or lack thereof—of the issues.  This time around, Biden knows exactly where Ryan stands on budget policy proposals and key Democratic policies such as Medicare and Obamacare. There should be no surprises—and there should be no holding back by of the vice president.

That, at least, is the hope among the Democratic faithful. They clearly need a strong performance. The Obama-Biden record is highly defendable, and the direction the Democratic ticket is advocating for the next four years is far different from that proposed by their opponents. All Biden needs to show is clarity and conviction, which were so sorely lacking in the Obama-Romney showdown.

Granted, everyone knows that the vice president can be a loose cannon and this is surely a worry for the Obama campaign team. However, if he is able to set the table for Obama in the town hall debate next week, he will have done more than enough to earn the two a second term.

 




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This vice-presidential debate is way more important than you think

  1. The main issue last election was not that Palin was a “mystery”, it was that Biden was clearly coached to smile and to not tear her a new one, as it would likely be seen as misogynist or at the very least, ‘being mean to a poor li’l lady’.

    So he was leashed and smiled too much, but surprisingly it worked because she dug her own grave — with a wink. This time, I expect to see Biden unleashed. All he needs to do is needle Ryan — or ask him for simple facts — and we’ll see the snappy, churlish Ryan we’ve seen this week. Well that’s how I hope it plays, because it will be entertaining.

  2. My theory on Mitt Romney’s success at the debate?

    I think he may have gone ‘rogue’ from his handlers and went back to being the Mitt we’d thought he’d be from Mass. If Mitt Romney was a Canadian Politican, he’d be a 1980′s Progressive Conservative for sure…

    If Biden does well in this debate, does it remove him from ‘crazy, babbling white-guy’ to potentially leading the 2016 Democratic ticket? If not that then at least boosting him into the field of competition for Democratic nominee…

    • Biden is a little aged to be seriously considered a candidate in 2016. If he were to run and win in 2016 he would be four years older than Ronald Reagan was when he started his first term as president.

    • I don’t think anybody would consider Biden actual Presidential material. He doesn’t think, he just reacts.

      On the other hand…. if Ryan were to have a really great debate and Romney were to somehow lose the election…. Ryan would certainly be at least a consideration for the Republican ticket next cycle.

      But I also think Ryan will win this debate, and Romney the election. Only time will tell! :D

  3. I don’t see a way that Biden actually wins this debate. As far as persona’s go, Obama’s supposed to be the guy you want to have a beer with, and Biden is supposed to be the wise old man. On the other side, Romney is supposed to be the experienced manager, while Ryan is the every day Joe.

    The Republicans wise old man already beat the like-able guy. I can’t see how Biden is going to come off as a better Vice than Ryan, the good ol’ boy from the back woods who everybody seems to like.

    But, we’ll find out!

  4. Well, Parisella said the last debate was not a game-changer.
    Fail.
    Now he says this VP debate is important, the one that everyone knows Ryan will win.
    Fail.

  5. The VP debate is unimportant, as are the presidential debates, as is the election itself. Whoever wins, Democrat or Republican, the result will be roughly the same: an administration that believes in big government.

    Among the Republican candidates for the GOP nominee, there was but one who had a different message: Dr. Ron Paul. He believes in peace, prosperity, sound money and the American Constitution. For his views, the media labelled him a kook. An extremist.

    “That government is best that governs least” is a quote attributed to Thomas Paine or Thomas Jefferson. Sadly, neither man would recognise today the monstrosity that is Washington, DC.

  6. I wonder if Ryan will ask Biden why he, along with Obama and Clinton personally, are lying to the mother of one of the slain Benghazi employees.

    No media site from Canada will bother to link to this because it’s so devastating…but I urge you all to watch Anderson Cooper interview this heartbroken woman. A month later, Pat Smith still does not know how her son died. The administration hasn’t told her a thing other than lies.

    This is a f**king disgrace.

    And what does the Obama administration have to say about it today? From campaign spokesperson Stef Cutter…

    “Benghazi is only an issue because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan”

    Ryan should definitely ask Joe Biden tonight if he agrees with that statement.

    This is the administration you’re supporting Parisella. You haven’t touched Benghazi with a 10 foot pole since this started. This is what you are helping to whitewash over.

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