Ron Bonjean 9:12: Ryan wins on Libya hands down. Measured, confident, but not cocky. Round 1=Ryan.
Peter Roff 9:11: Biden attacks the Romney statement the night of Libya attack as being "panned by the media around the world." Is that the new standard? Are we, the media, the ones who have the final say? Seems to me the vice president has it very, very wrong.
Peter Roff 9:09: Congressman Ryan hits the key point home hard—what happened in Libya was a terrorist attack, something it took the Obama administration two weeks to acknowledge. Split screen on Fox News, the channel I am watching this time, is not helpful to Biden, who does not know how to keep his face straight when he's not talking. Ryan scores a "nice" point by mentioning that Biden's son Beau is a veteran of the conflict in the region, before the vice president can bring it up.
Biden's forte is supposed to be foreign policy. He spoke with more authority but he said far less. Ryan is ahead on substance points, even if he seems a little more shaky on the subject. Biden continuing to grin like the cat who ate the canary is not going to help him.
Robert Schlesinger 9:08: Wow, Ryan with the first Etch A Sketch moment of the debate—they suddenly agree with the Obama administration on Iraq and Afghanistan.
Robert Schlesinger 9:07: Good pivot from Biden on the first question—addressing Libya and then turning to Romney, reminding voters that he hasn't Etch A Sketched back into Moderate Mitt on foreign policy (yet). [See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]
Peter Roff 9:06: Biden answers the first question well—except that he avoids taking any responsibility for what we now know to be the long-term screw up in Libya. Talking about Iraq is not the same as talking about Libya. And Biden, in his first answer, plays the bin Laden card. And distorts what Mitt Romney said about what he would do about Osama bin Laden.
Peter Roff 9:04: The stakes tonight are much higher for Vice President Joe Biden, who is much better known, than they are for Rep. Paul Ryan. Biden has much less room to make mistakes and his errors will be more meaningful. Ryan has more latitiude.
Robert Schlesinger 8:56: So what are the stakes tonight? Eight days ago I'd have told you that the vice presidential debate is among the least important events in the campaign season. Perhaps the best remembered single moment, after all, was Lloyd Bentsen schooling Dan Quayle about John F. Kennedy. But Bentsen went back to the Senate while Quayle moved into the Naval Observatory.
But eight days ago I'd have also told you (and did) that presidential debates rarely matter. I was right on the history but 2012 seems intent on going its own way.
Nevertheless, since it took a pair of remarkable presidential debate performances to shake up the race—Mitt Romney's deft, if mendacious A-game and Barack Obama's somnambulant flop—I'm not sure what Joe Biden and Paul Ryan would have to do tonight to make a serious mark in the race. But that, like they say in sports, is why they play the game.