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 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.
Leaders of the Young Republican and Democratic organizations in Rockland County both thought their party's candidate performed well.
Joseph Coe, co-president of the Rockland County Young Democrats, noted the debate illustrated clear cut differences between the candidates and the parties.
"Vice President Biden’s electrifying performance re-energized the Democratic Base," Coe wrote in an email. "Ryan’s willingness to throw young people under the bus, and strip away a woman’s right to choose is deeply troubling as this is a man who looks to be one heartbeat away from our Presidency. It was critical that Biden hold Ryan accountable for his fuzzy math, misinformation and flip-flopping positions and he did just that. Clearly, Biden came out victorious and proved yet again that the Democratic Party, unlike the Republican Party lead by the Romney/Ryan ticket, cares for all Americans including our brave service men and women, seniors, students and women."
Elan Weinberger, president and chair of the Rockland County Young Republicans, highlighted the differences between the candidates' approaches.
"Both of the the candidates got down to the major issues and spoke well in defense of their policies," Weinberger noted in an email. "However, when it came to the ways in which they presented themselves, I think that Vice President Biden came off as arrogant and slightly obnoxious. He laughed at virtually every point that Paul Ryan made, and interrupted him numerous times without even letting him get a point across. Ryan, on the other hand,was more likeable and more composed on the stage. Although he could have been slightly more forceful with his points, overall I think he did a good job."
Other Patch readers followed along live, 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.]