In an hour-and-a-half debate anchored by policy details and minutiae rather than zingers, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan clashed Thursday night in an effort to secure the White House.
The two politicos met for the first and only time leading up to November, tackling health care reform, terrorism and taxes on the Kentucky stage.
The contest began with a broad dialogue—the danger of a nuclear Middle East—but soon dipped into wonkier topics like mortgage deductions and tuition credits.
Though the two candidates beset and interrupted one another, a certain chemistry seemed to exist—they listened to one another's talking points, and responded accordingly. Biden and Ryan, both Irish Catholics, also exchanged friendly banter throughout the night.
Biden's colorful body language commandeered viewers' attention even when the Vice President remained silent; he shrugged, laughed and shook his head in response to Paul's policy plans and criticisms. Paul opted for a more reserved air.
Biden also honed in on a bungle President Barack Obama did not, calling attention to Governor Mitt Romney's remark about 47-percent of Americans relying on government assistance.
Tarrytown Republican Alison Boldyrev had this assessment of the event:
Last night gave voters an inside look at two different debate tactics. The more seasoned debater without a viable record to run on chose the bully approach while Ryan chose to be respectful and issues oriented. It is not so cut and dry as to who the winner of the debate is but four more years of the same could surely make Americans the unfortunate losers of the traditions and values that have made this Country a world leader and prosperous nation.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner of course had a different take on this, declaring Biden the winner. "I thought Biden won because he reenergized the democratic base which needed a boost after last weeks debate," Feiner said. "I think democrats are excited again and predict that momentum will shift back to the President."
Many other Patch readers followed along live as well, posting their thoughts and opinion in a live thread—here's a sampling of what Hudson Valley residents wrote:
- "It does seem like Biden and Ryan do like each other personally. It seemed like they were enjoying the give and take."
- "It was a lively debate, a really fast 90 minutes—real interaction."
- "How effective, Mr. Biden, is to laugh, smirk, and interrupt like an annoying school boy."
- "Joe Biden is doing exactly what Barack Obama should have done."
- "The moderator was fantastic. She knew the issues and challenged the answers."
- "Is there any doubt a Romney administration would favor the rich and increase the income gap in our country?"
- "Ryan was cool and focused and he did not allow Biden's nasty attitude distract him."
- "Biden's continual broad smiles and smirks and interruptions bothered me so much I changed channels."
[Some minor grammatical changes have been made to comments.]
What did you think of the debate? Did you declare a winner? Share in the comments.