Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said after Thursday night’s debate that Vice President Joe Biden’s demeanor cost him a potential debate win over Republican Rep. Paul Ryan.
“If you read the transcript, I think it’s dead even,” Krauthammer said. “If you heard it on radio, Biden won. If you watched on television, he lost. In the transcript, if you just look at the raw arguments I think it was even because each side had points to make and made them. I think on balance, not one side was stronger than another.”
According to The Washington Post columnist, there were some circumstances where Biden’s aggressive tack paid off.
“If you heard it on radio, what you heard was Biden being aggressive, forceful, he was sort of on the attack all the time and he pushed the argument his way,” Krauthammer continued. “He did a lot of interrupting as well. And Ryan reacted with, I thought, excessive deference, allowing himself to be cut off and often just ending with a point that you might understand — for instance, when he talked about the Catholic Bishops — he made a point after Biden had said, ‘Oh, the Bishops of the Catholic church is not going to be compelled to do anything under ObamaCare.'”
“Ryan said, ‘Then why is that the Bishops are suing the administration?’ But that is almost an aside, and it was lost, and then it was over by the next question.”
Krauthammer’s conclusion? If the televised interpretation trumps the audio and the transcript, Biden’s the loser.
“If you put them all together and you end up with television where you saw the demeanor that the Vice President had in regard to Ryan, I think that undid the advantage in rhetoric that he had in carrying the debate,” he said. “It was so disrespectful.”
“I agree with [Fox News Sunday host] Chris Wallace: It was sort of almost unprecedented and hugely condescending. I think that undid the force of his arguments and I think in the end, if television, you lose.”
Krauthammer said, however, that the debate didn’t move the needle for either presidential candidate.
“Whether you decide that the vice president won or lost, people don’t end up in the booth voting for number two,” he said.
“So if you like one, he was likable, the other wasn’t. I don’t think it has any affect whatsoever on the vote. The question is will it affect the debates that are coming up, that’s the real heavyweight stuff between Obama and Romney. And I think that the objective, perhaps the one advantage that Biden laid down, is that in the actual arguments he made the points that had been left out of the first debate.”
“What he was trying to do is set the premises for the upcoming debates by filling in the blanks, by answering the charges Romney made in Obama had left unanswered — the 47 percent, repeating the $5 trillions of debt,” Krauthammer continued. “True, or untrue, it was re-enforcing the Democratic arguments which had been completely undermined in the first debate. And as a result, Obama has been sinking in the polls. So I think that he might have staunched the bleeding to some extent on the substance that Romney had attacked Obama on. And now, it’s all up to the heavyweights in the last two rounds of the fight.”