Sunday, October 14, 2012

Recap: Live Blog of Vice Presidential Debate

Thank you for following my live blog of Thursday’s Vice Presidential Debate between incumbent, Joe Biden and challenger, Paul Ryan. The event was held at Centre College in Danville, KY and was moderated by ABC News correspondent, Martha Raddatz.  

Covering both foreign and domestic policy and consisting of 9 segments, 2 minutes each, this debate had the potential to stall or accelerate Mitt Romney’s momentum after winning the first debate. And since this debate was between the candidates’s pit bulls it was also expected to be more combative than last week’s face off between President Obama and Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.

Given that this was my first live blog event, I made my share of mistakes. My first mistake was deciding at the last minute to use the CoverItLive software; the result of which was a slow start to my blog event and my inability to include the full introduction I had prepared before the event. Here are a couple of the items I had intended to include:

1.       Head shots of the candidates:

Another mistake was that I got so caught up in the event that I allowed my personal political bias to seep into my blogging of the debate. Not overly professional, to say the least. 

Live and learn. 

Now for a few key takeaways from the debate:

Biden turned in a dominant performance.
Most of the political pundits called the debate a draw or gave Biden a slight edge. I disagree. I believe Biden dominated the debate from the beginning. Clearly a primary objective for Biden was to counteract the weak impression that President Obama gave in the first debate, and he definitely did that in a number of ways:

  1. Biden spoke from his heart.  Calculated or not, Biden’s display of anger beginning about halfway through gave his performance an authenticity that Ryan’s lacked.  We saw real emotion from Biden, in both words and body language.  And that makes him feel real to voters.
  2. Ryan’s calculated, buttoned-down performance not as effective.  Because we got no similar display of emotion from Ryan, he came across as a robot with no skin in the game.  So we don’t know that we can trust him.  Trust and credibility are the two qualities audiences look for from debates like this.
  3. Biden’s facial antics risked sabotaging the rest of his performance.  Biden’s grinning, moaning, and eye-rolling risked looking childish and unfair to his opponent.  See a video of his facial antics here on YouTube. Had he continued throughout the debate, all the rest of his advantages would have been nullified.  But fortunately for the Democrats, when Biden started to get angry, he focused, and cut back on the distracting antics. 

Martha Raddatz was solid
Moderating a rhetorical fistfight is no easy task.  Raddatz did well to try to give both candidates equal time, keep them on the question asked and insert her own expertise — particularly on foreign policy — when it was necessary and appropriate. This was a job well done under remarkably difficult circumstances.

The 47 percent comment made an appearance; Big Bird didn’t
Biden was not only more alert than Obama was; he also remembered to use the lines he was prepped with. Raddatz never asked about the secretly-recorded fundraiser at which Romney talked about “47 percent” of Americans who consider themselves victims.

Political junkies and party faithful won and undecided voters lost.
If you came into this debate hoping to find a civil discussion of the issues and the differences between the two candidates, you were likely disappointed. The bulk of the debate was Biden and Ryan slamming one another for not telling the truth or being misinformed. This constant bickering is part of what independents don’t like about party politics. It’s easy to imagine they turned off the debate early— if they were watching it at all.

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