Vice presidential candidates sparred Thursday night in what local political watchers called a more evenly matched debate compared to last week's presidential forum.
“I don't think this one moved the needle either way,” Smith County Republican Club member David Stein said.
Stein said Biden failed to steal the momentum from the Romney/Ryan campaign but that both argued their points well. Stein expected a gaffe from an outspoken Biden who has made missteps with his mouth in the past.
Ryan reacted well to Biden's challenges, he said, and remained serious, which exasperated the vice president.
Peggy Downing, president of the Smith County Democratic Club, said Ryan's youth, inexperience and nerves showed. Ms. Downing said she expected Biden to be on offense and Ryan came across as “immature and condescending.” She described him as a nervous “bobble-head.”
“This was by far a better debate. They were both back and forth, but Biden has tons more experience and knowledge on these topics and it showed.”
Comments posted on the TylerPaper.com live Web chat questioned Biden's smiling reaction to Ryan's points and facts. Those commenting expect the body language may be viewed as negative by potential voters.
Ms. Downing said people who know Biden understand he reacts that way and it is part of his personality. She said Biden was reacting to Ryan's answers, such as his campaign's stance on Iran and whether force or sanctions were necessary to keep the country from developing nuclear weapons.
Ryan said he believed force should be an option where Biden said it should be the “last option” and that sanctions are working.
Ms. Downing expected Biden to come out swinging after a subdued performance by President Barack Obama during his debate with Romney.
“Biden kept using 'facts' that were disproven by their own campaign,” he said. “I guess they will keep using them hoping people will just take them as truth.”
Smith County Democratic Party Chairman David Henderson said Biden's working-class, street-brawler personality came across and will give the Obama campaign momentum.
“I was hoping they would unleash him, and they did,” he said. “Sometimes people fault him for being verbose and having loose lips, but he is passionate about his politics, and we saw that tonight.”
Democrats will react to Biden's tough demeanor, he said.
Stein said the coming days will tell how the vice presidential candidates were viewed by the public, but it will come down to the top-ticket candidates during the next presidential debates.