Evening everyone - I am going to try to live-blog the VP debate to capture impressions free from post-debate media analysis...all quotes are paraphrased...appreciate feedback in the comments section.
9:00 - Kick off time is here. Much less fanfare than the Presidential debate.
9:05 - Rough start. Lot of nerves up there.
9:10 - I am having trouble understanding what points both sides are making.
9:17 - So far, neither candidate seems comfortable.
9:18 - They are apparently fighting over who is better friends with Israel's PM Netanyahu.
9:19 - Joe Biden should probably cool it with the derisive laughter.
9:20 - The moderator, Martha Radatz, is rapidly losing control.
9:21 - Ryan just took over and scored a few points on Iran.
9:22 - Biden just pulled it back as well. The foreign policy debate ended with a solid flurry.
9:23 - Radatz should really call out who she is directing questions toward.
9:24 - Biden is doing a little better on domestic economic issues. Talking about the middle class clearly energizes him, and he is on a roll.
9:25 - Ryan scores with unemployment stats from Biden's hometown of Scranton, PA...'10% now, was 8.5% when you guys came in.
9:26 - Ryan seems to be winning the battle of the split-screen so far...unless voter's view his chuckling every time Ryan makes a claim is a positive.
9:27 - Ryan scores with a story on a family Romney helped - and the first zinger of the night 'sometimes words don't come out of your mouth the right way.'
9:28 - Biden gets emotional talking about his deceased wife - once again he is doing a good job connecting with Americans...and scores a point on Romney's auto industry position.
9:30 - Radatz is doing a little better now...maybe debate night jitters earlier.
9:30 - Ryan rolling on the economy. "Our pro-growth plan will create 12 million jobs".
9:31 - Biden scores on Ryan asking for stimulus money, his laughter at Ryan's response was the first time it seemed appropriate so far.
9:32 - However, his laughter at Ryan's question about China buying our debt seemed a little off.
9:33 - Medicare time.
9:33 - The somewhat incongruous Republican position on Medicare is coming to light right now...clearly its a pander to retirees, but its a tough sell considering the other across the board cuts they are always talking about.
9:37 - Biden is doing well - 'their ideas are wrong, their ideas are bad.'
9:38 - Ryan scores a point with the hand in the cookie jar comment. Biden responds 'ba, ba, bap.'
9:40 - I am not sure anyone is going to be able to win on Medicare...a lot of these hypotheticals are a little too abstract for average voters.
9:40 - Biden scores experience points talking about his deals with Tip O'Neill and President Reagan.
9:43 - Biden 'Folks, who do you trust on this?' - either masterful or disastrous.
9:44 - Tax time.
9:45 - Biden - 'Eight million, billion dollars.' No matching Dr. Evil pinkie finger in the corner of his mouth.
9:47 - 'There aren't enough rich people to tax to pay for their spending. Watch out middle class, they are coming for you.' Nice point by Ryan.
9:48 - Ryan is rolling on taxes...this issue is as strong for him as the middle class is for Biden.
9:49 - Radatz pushes back for the first time - on Ryan discussing tax cuts.
9:50 - Biden noting that hedge funds are included in the Romney/Ryan list of small businesses...and is doing a little better on tax cuts. He is relating it to the middle class again, always a good pivot for him.
9:51 - Good flurry there. Taxes are a good issue for both of them with respect to their own bases.
9:52 - Radatz should move on. Clearly neither side is going to talk in anything more than the abstract.
9:54 - National defense now - in terms of spending though.
9:54 - Radatz is really pushing against Ryan even as he is providing details on where he can cut military fat.
9:55 - Biden is probably winning on military issues, and Radatz finally takes the opportunity to push back on him on something.
9:56 - Radatz 'Should we leave Afghanistan?'
9:57 - Ryan does a good job on calling out the troops. He also points out items the parties agree on. Nice job there.
9:58 - Biden scores on getting the job done in Afghanistan. This is a good issue for the incumbent, and Biden does a solid job laying out these strengths.
10:00 - Ryan 'What we have seen is an absolute unravelling of the Obama foreign policy.' Biden retorts with 'WE WILL LEAVE IN 2014.'
10:02 - Radatz asks about 'friendly fire' again, pushes against Biden on whether the timeline is emboldening enemies. Biden is fairly strong on this, explaining how withdrawal can work.
10:04 - Ryan's point on Afghanistan is that his ticket would follow the advice of the generals. Biden says its the job of the Afghans. Both had solid points in the final exchange on the issue. Biden probably won with the final word.
10:07 - On to Syria. Biden is doing a good job explaining why Syria shouldn't be invaded. 'It would likely cause a much bigger conflict' - basically a spark in a powder-keg argument. He is doing well on this issue speaking to a war-weary nation.
10:09 - Ryan scores on 'We wouldn't outsource our foreign relations policy to the UN with a Putin veto.'
10:10 - Radatz - 'What is your criteria for intervention?' Ryan - 'Whatever is in the best interest of the American people...troops on the ground in national security interest.'
10:14 - Radatz asks about abortion, and how each candidate's religion plays into their views on the topic.
10:15 - Ryan says that religion plays into it, but his personal experience plays into it more. Brings the Sarah Fluke issue into it.
10:16 - Biden says his religion defines who he is, and accepts his church's rules on abortion personally, but does not impose his views on others. Biden invokes Fluke as well, says that no institution is forced to provide birth control.
10:19 - Biden scores by saying there are one or two SCOTUS nominations coming up during the next presidency, and that is how close we are to overturning Roe v. Wade. Strong close to the issue.
10:21 - Radatz 'I talked to a soldier recently who was saddened by the smear tactics. Are you embarrassed by the tone of the campaign?'
10:21 - Biden calls Super-PACs an abomination, questions the conviction of Romney/Ryan to help the middle class.
10:23 - Ryan quotes 2008 Obama for the second time 'When you don't a solid record to run on, you run on fear. That is what they are doing now.' 'Debt crisis is coming, Obama is running from the crisis. He gave you a speech, not leadership. Romney can get the job done.'
10:25 - Biden 'The Ryan budgets have eviscerated everything the middle class cares about.'
10:26 - Both spoke well to their bases there.
10:27 - Radatz - Please close by talking about your character.
10:27 - Ryan 'Working across aisle, approaching problems head on.'
10:28 - Biden wastes some of his 15 seconds complaining about time, ends rather weakly.
Closing arguments start with Biden.
Biden - Blamed the problems the Obama administration inherited again. Finishes strong on the 47% theme and middle class values again.
Ryan - 'What country are we going to be, what country are we going to give our kids?' 'The Obama plan is not working, this is not what a real recovery looks like.' Strong close for him as well.
Summary - Probably solid performances from each candidate in the eyes of their respective bases. Democrats will likely appreciate agressive Joe, Republicans wouldn't like him either way. Ryan was a bit reactive, but not subservient. No real gaffes, few real zingers. Not sure it will really turn any undecideds, though it could have served as a sort of circuit-breaker for the Obama campaign. In sum, it will take the Presidential debates to settle this one though, I think.