Joe Biden's Fiery Debate Performance Energizes Dems in Ohio

Buckeye State Democrats say Biden was forceful and armed with facts during his faceoff with Paul Ryan.

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Vice President Joe Biden throws his hands in the air during the Oct. 11 vice presidential debate with Rep. Paul Ryan.
Vice President Joe Biden throws his hands in the air during the Oct. 11 vice presidential debate with Rep. Paul Ryan.

CINCINNATI—It'll take days before polling shows whether the vice presidential debate altered voters' sentiment about the presidential race. But for Democrats here watching the duel between Vice President Joe Biden and his Republican rival Paul Ryan, the winner was Biden.

"He really came across well. He really emphasized the facts, unlike [President Barack] Obama who just kind of listened," says Marianne Heileman of Cincinnati. "I don't know who 'won' the debates, but I'd put my money on him. I hope they projected Biden as winning it, but in my heart he's won it."

Heileman was one of more than a dozen Democrats from Cincinnati gathered at Molly Malone's, a bar on the outskirts of Cincinnati, to watch the 90-minute debate. She, and the others gathered, were pleased with Biden's use of specifics in his answers, something that many felt Ryan was less willing to do.

[VIEW: Gallery: Obama, Romney Woo Voters in Ohio]

"He refused to engage in specifics, again," says Pat Fry of Cincinnati. "There wasn't a single thing other than, we're going to help the job creators to create jobs."

Fry admits she was a bit disappointed because Ryan didn't seem as "dishonest" as he seemed in the past.

"Some of the things that I think he's said it sounded very plausible now and I don't think they are," she says, referring to Romney-Ryan proposals on the budget, taxes, and Medicare reforms.

Earlier in the evening, Republicans at a campaign headquarters down the street were making phone calls to supporters in hopes of building on the interest in the debate to prod them to be sure and vote.

[READ: Romney Criticized for Abortion Comments in Local Paper]

Zoanne Kangas Bouché of Cincinnati, one of the GOP volunteers, says that while she feels both Biden and Ryan are "good guys" she thought Biden would "need all the help he can get."

"If my guy was Joe Biden and he had to debate Paul Ryan, who is truly an eloquent speaker, I'd be nervous, too," she says. "I'm feeling extremely confident."

The split views of partisans watching the debate doesn't make for a clean victory for either side, but does mark huge improvement for the Democrats who were disappointed and deflated after Obama's debate performance in Denver last week.

For Maggie Yocis of Cincinnati, Biden's strong showing encourages her to redouble her volunteer efforts.

[READ: Romney Continues Making Gains in Battlegrounds, Talks Foreign Policy in Ohio]

"I appreciated what Biden said; I think he held his own," she says. "Overall I feel like Paul Ryan acted more like the politician. To me that's a bad thing, because it's sort of a polished, used salesman act. I think Biden stood up for himself and Obama on the actions that have been taken for the last three and a half years."

She adds, "I feel like I need to fight the fight."

Ohio, jokingly referred to as the 'swingiest of swing states' is a key part of both candidates' path to winning the White House. Obama currently leads by a few percentage points, but Romney has been campaigning hard in the Buckeye State over the past week, drawing crowds of thousands. He and Ryan will return to campaign in Ohio on Friday and Saturday. Obama also visited last week, drawing 15,000 in Columbus at an event at The Ohio State University.

New voters are no longer able to register in Ohio in time for this year's election, but absentee and early voting is underway, so get-out-the-vote efforts on both sides are charging ahead.

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  • Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at