DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Metro Detroiters woke up Friday morning overwhelmed with opinions following the debate between Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and Republican candidate for Vice President Paul Ryan.
Biden and Ryan teed up pointed arguments on the economy, social policy and America’s place in the world that President Barack Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney now will drive forward into the campaign’s final stretch.
Biden, eager to make up for the president’s lackluster performance in his first debate with Romney, played the aggressor throughout. And the president gave his running mate a quick thumbs up for delivering with the energy and feeling that he did not.
Ryan came back at the vice president with harsh talking points, a flurry of statistics and a sharp economic warning: In another Obama term, he said, “Watch out, middle class, the tax bill’s coming to you.” Romney, who watched the debate at the end of a campaign day in North Carolina, got on the phone to Ryan immediately afterward to congratulate his running mate.
Several people called the WWJ Listener Comment Line at 248-455-7230, with their reactions to the debate. Here are just some of the comments we received:
— “Vice President Joe Biden was smug.”
— “I have never in my life seen somebody like Ryan that without a script was lost.”
— “Joe Biden was on his toes and way much more informative than Ryan.”
— “I think Vice President Biden was rude and unprofessional and a bully.”
— “Joe Biden stayed cool, calm, collected and he really knows his stuff.”
— “Between the President’s poor performance the other week and Bidens performance last night, I’ve decided to switch from voting Democratic to voting Republican.”
— “I thought that Ryan was babbling on and that the Vice President ate him alive.”
— “Ryan can’t be bullied. The Romney team outclassed the Obama team.”
— “I would think that Mr. Biden, after all his issues in the past, would have been a little more mature in his speaking.”
The running mates clearly sensed that the stakes were higher than usual for their faceoff, and both played hardball throughout, frequently interrupting one another and challenging one another’s assertions.
On television’s split screens, Biden’s body language – a montage of pained smiles, winces, head shakes and eye rolls – often screamed incredulity when Ryan was speaking.
“I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground,” Ryan shot back at Biden at one point, “but I think people would be better served if we don’t keep interrupting each other.”
In one of the night’s lighter moments, Ryan helpfully provided a translation of one of Biden’s putdowns.
“This is a bunch of stuff,” Biden said of Ryan’s dismissive characterization of the president’s Iran policy.
“What does that mean, a bunch of stuff?” asked moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News.
“It’s Irish,” Ryan offered.
“It is,” Biden agreed, to laughter from the audience. “We Irish call it malarkey.”
At another point, Ryan used Biden’s own history of gaffes to explain away Romney’s much-criticized comment dismissing the 47 percent of Americans who pay no taxes, a comment that Biden brought up repeatedly after Obama had failed to mention it in his debate.
“I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way,” Ryan said.
There were spirited exchanges on taxes, abortion, Medicare, Libya, and more. It may not have broken new ground, but the conversation gave viewers a clear illustration of the sharp choices before them come Election Day.
“In case you haven’t noticed, we have strong disagreements,” Biden said in his closing statement. And then he distilled the Democrats’ campaign pitch into a simple bid to give anxious Americans “a little bit of peace of mind.”
Ryan then spoke of the “big choice” in this election, and argued that Obama had his chance and failed.
“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” he said. “You deserve better.”
For all of the political back-and-forth that’s transpired over the past two months, the race essentially stands where it was in August, before the two national political conventions, with the two candidates running about even in national polls.
There’s been no shortage of drama in between: the revelation of Romney’s caught-on-tape comment about the 47 percent, Biden’s remark that the middle class has been “buried” in the past four years, Obama’s weak showing in the first debate, the ongoing tussle over the administration’s handling of the attack that left four Americans dead in Benghazi, Libya, and more.
With turnout critical, both campaigns are devoting considerable energy to ensuring that supporters are registered to vote and taking advantage of the early voting options that are available in many states. Nearly a million Americans have already voted.
Now attention shifts to the two remaining debates between Obama and Romney: Tuesday’s “town hall” style faceoff in Hempstead, N.Y., and a final showdown, over foreign policy, on Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.
With so little time left in the countdown to Nov. 6, “every day, every hour counts,” said Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayor who served as Obama’s first White House chief of staff. “Everything counts.”
TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.