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Who won, lost the VP debate? Sun-Times pundits break it down

Updated: October 11, 2012 10:20PM



ROGER EBERT:

Winner: Biden

Biden won, by doing what Obama didn’t do. He didn’t give Ryan a pass on anything. Biden spoke persuasively; Ryan was all abstraction.

Wisdom from Biden that Ryan evaded: Biden: “War should always be the absolute last resort.”

The knock-out punch: Biden on Ryan’s tax cuts: “Mathematically impossible. It has NEVER been done before.”

The turning point: At about 40 minutes, Biden’s amusement begins to seem justified. He’s calling Ryan on everything. Getting under Ryan’s skin.

The most elusive non-answer: Ryan’s non-answer to Raddatz’s question on 20% cut, “Do you actually have the specifics?”

Best line of the night: Joe Biden on the Catholic church’s position on abortion: “I accept it in my personal life ... but I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend the congressman here.”

Which guy looked most ready to assume the presidency: Biden, in clearly explaining Afghanistan.

CAROL MARIN:

Winner: Biden

Ryan did a very good job of standing his ground and maintaining his message, but Biden demonstrated that age and experience still can circles around youth and skill.

Turning point: Biden took Ryan’s assertion that “Mitt is a car guy” and turned it on its head. (Remind us again, bailed out Big Auto?) It was the beginning of the Biden surge.

Cringe moments: Biden constantly calling us “folks.” Too folksy by half, Joe. But Ryan saying, “Mr. vice president, I know you’re under duress” after the Obama/Romney debate was, well, cheesey. (No Cheesehead pun intended.)

Worst namedropper: Biden with all that Bibi, Bibi, Bibi stuff. Let’s stipulate he knows Benjamin Netanyahu better than the other guy.

Bigger winner: ABC’s Martha Raddatz who was every inch a tough reporter beyond being a strong moderator. Bravo.

STEVE HUNTLEY:

Winner: Ryan

He held his own on foreign policy, not his field of expertise, and excelled on his area of expertise — the economy, jobs and Medicare — by effectively outlining plans to fix them.

The embarrassing batty uncle: Biden smirked and laughed when Ryan answered questions and frequently tried to interrupt him. He got increasingly out of control as the night went on.

A blow to the jaw No. 1: Ryan brings up Biden’s tendency to make gaffes by saying, “As the vice president knows, sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.”

A blow to the jaw No. 2: Ryan describes Biden’s mission of trying to reverse Obama’s poor debate showing by telling Biden: “I know you’re under duress to make up lost ground.”

A blow to the jaw No. 3: In trying to defend Obama’s political timetable for pulling out the surge troops out of Afghanistan over the objections of U.S. commanders, Biden redefined the length of the fighting season. Ryan quipped, “The calendar works the same every year.”

The most ridiculous non-answer: Biden, asked why not raise the age for Medicare by two years to preserve its financial health, said, “We will not be part of a voucher plan.”

NEIL STEINBERG:

Winner: Biden

Paul Ryan didn’t fail in the same crash and burn fashion that Obama did last week, but Biden’s active, energetic, factual engagement and passionate intensity won the day, constantly riding over Ryan and taking command of the debate.

The knock-out punch: Biden tossing Ryan’s hypocritical letters pleading for stimulus pork back in his face.

The turning point: “Facts matter.” — Biden

The phrase I got sick of hearing: “My friend ...” from Biden

The biggest whopper of the night: Ryan’s repeated doe-eyed claims of heretofore unknown Republican hunger for bi-partisanship.



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