Let's face it, vice presidential debates are never the deciding factor during a presidential race. The second-in-line debates certainly have had some memorable moments, but for the most part affect relatively little, if any, change in voters. Earlier this week, Gallup released a study of trends that stated the "median change after 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008 VP debates is one percentage point."
But 2012 may be a little different. Though it seems very unlikely we'll see any major change from tonight's debate, it may play an important role in setting the stage for the next presidential debate, especially if Obama wants to redeem himself, so to speak. After his wishy-washy performance last week, he certainly needs any prowess he can muster, and a strong performance from Biden would only help, whereas a weak performance would be more than detrimental cementing the Democratic ticket as the weaker of the two. At the very least a solid Biden performance would halt Romney's current momentum.
It will be intersting to watch the two tonight. Much has been made of Biden's frequent gaffes, but those moments have happened primarily as he's out on the campaign trail, in a much less controlled and rehearsed environment. No doubt he's been spent most of this week refining and practicing (again and again) his talking points to ensure no such slipups will happen tonight. Plus, he's a good public speaker. Often underestimated, he has great skill in story-telling and relaying things to the public in ways that make sense to everyone. He also has 36 years of experience in the Senate, and though not an intellectual, it certainly has given his knowledge some good depth.
On the other side, of course, is Paul Ryan, and while certainly a smart man, he has a tendency to get into the knitty-gritty details. His supposed strength is his skill with budget numbers, but here (as in many other areas) he won't be defending his own policies, rather those of Romney. Even if he does venture into a passionate discussion on this topic (defending a much more ambitious plan), if he gets too far into the weeds, as he has in the past, he's going to lose a big chunk of the viewership (most of us aren't into digging through numbers, let's face it).
In public statements, Romney's team has been trying to set low expectations so as to ensure Ryan can only exceed them. Romney even stated that this was Ryan's first debate (outside of high school), which is false. Ryan has had a good deal of experience debating during his fourteen years in Congress, but no doubt tonight will be the most watched.
Topics will be both domestic and foreign policy. With the tragedy at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi still fresh on everyone's minds (especially with the hearings going on now), Ryan will most likely try to attack Biden on foreign policy, putting him on the defense.
On the domestic front, it would be beneficial for Obama if women's issues were brought up during this debate. Not only is the moderator female (Martha Raddatz, of ABC News) this time around, but the topic was entirely skipped during the presidential debate. We'll see two Catholic men pitted against one another, both taking starkly different stances on the issues, and probably giving a pretty good representation of the differing voices (unfortunately, often very quiet) within the church's congregation.
The debate will be ninety-minutes, with nine, ten-minute sections. Start time is 9:00pm.
PolicyMic will be covering the vice-presidential debate live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.
UPDATE: 11:41pm He certainly wasn't perfect! Biden's Benghazi Gaffe: claimed they weren't aware of the need for more security at US Embassy. Check out this article by Foreign Policy for more.
11:35pm Recap videos broken down question by question via CSPAN.
Post-debate from twitter:
10:33pm: Biden is clearly the winner here. He refuted nearly everything Ryan said, and spit out a lot more facts than his opponent. Will this help out Obama any? Time will tell, let's hope so. One thing's for sure though, with tonight's performance, Biden has successfully reenergized the Democratic ticket.
Good one, Biden.
10:32pm Couldn't agree more:
Ryan closing statement: Wafty rhetoric. What is he saying? "We face a critical choice. President Obama had his chance. The choice is clear." UNCLEAR.
10:30pm Biden closing statement: 47% 47% 47% 47 % Give 'em an even shot. Level the playing field.
10:29pm Biden:"I never say anything I don't mean..." #spokenlikeatruepolitican
10:29pm Did Ryan just invoke "honesty"? Sure, like his marathon time.
10:23pm Raddatz is on point: "...and at the end of the day, are you ever embarrassed by this campaign?"
10:20pm SCOTUS finally brought up:
10:16pm Raddatz: Historic moment, two Catholics on this stage. Discuss abortion.
10:15pm From Twitter:
10:15pm Raddatz asks for criteria for international intervention, specifically humanitarian intervention. AMAZING. Feeling like a liberal arts college!
10:14pm Ryan talking shoulda, woulda, coulda. But someone needs to ask him, well what would you do now? Unfortunately, don't own time machine. #Syria
10:11pm Both of these men badly need basic Arabic lessons. #pronunciation
10:10pm Pew Research Center with some info:
10:08pm Biden: "The last thing America needs is to get into another ground war in the Middle East." #Syria
10:06pm: About sums it up:
10:04pm Biden sounds way more passionate and convincing than Ryan.
10:04pm Raddatz: "Is the Taliban taking advantage of this timeline?" Good question!
10:03pm Arianna chimes in:
10:00pm Biden's experience continually trumping Ryan's. Want to rely on Afghan troops the US has trained, rather than sending more US troops.
9:59pm Ryan: "We agree with the administration on the 2014 transition." Yet says we don't want to loose what we've gained. "We would have more likely taken into account on the recommendations from our commanders on troops numbers...make sure commanders have what they need so this does not become a launching pad for terrorists."
9:58pm Is staying in Afghanistan worth more American lives?
9:57pm Raddatz demands details. Awesome.
9:56pm THE MATH. WE NEED TO SEE THE MATH.
9:56pm This is Ryan's strength? uh-oh.
9:51pm Raddatz responding to Ryan: "You guarantee this math will add up?" Sensing some skepticism.
9:49pm Ryan: "Don't raise the deficit. Don't raise taxes on the middle class. And don't reduce the share of tax paid by the wealthy." WHAT WILL THIS DO, MR. RYAN? AND HOW TELL US HOW.
9:48pm TAX TIME.
9:47pm Advice from Mother Jones:
9:45pm Go Biden Go. Obama is happy.
9:40pm Biden is on a roll. Selling facts (fact checkers chime in?), looking straight into camera.
9:36pm Ryan: "Reform Medicare for people my age" Uffff...Ryan evidently still doesn't like the elderly. TAKE NOTE FLORIDA.
9:33pm Biden: "Be a little more candid...Ryan wrote me a letter saying the reason they needed stimulus b/c it would create jobs and now he is sitting here..."
9:33pm Raddatz has strong control of this debate. Go girl.
9:31pm YES BUT HOW? Ryan claims whole plan is to get economy to 4% unemployment. OK, give us details.
9:28pm Ryan takes a stab at Biden's infamous gaffes in response to the Mittster's supposed slip up in statement about 47%. Everyone laughs.
9:25pm The 47% makes its first appearance. Biden has "had it up to here" with this notion.
9:24pm Biden: "We can get employment below 6%."
9:24pm Onto the economy.
9:22pm Biden: "Facts matter" not "loose talk". "There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point."
9:20pm Raddatz talking to Ryan: "Can you solve this in TWO months?" #skeptical
9:19pm "You both saw Netanyahu draw a red line on a bad cartoon..."
9:19pm Bibi makes his first appearance.
9:16pm Biden: Iranians do not have a weapon at this point. "Loose talk", what are they talking about?
9:14pm Ryan: "We cannot allow Iran to gain nuclear weapon capabilities." Must proceed peacefully and with credibility, claims Romney can do that.
9:12pm Ryan calls out American hypocrisy in Egypt (supporting Mubarak, then supporting uprising).
9:11pm Biden claims "we did not know they needed more security." Hmmm...what about the hearings going on now?
9:10pm "MULARKEY!" Biden claims Ryan voted to cut Embassy security. Can I get a fact checker?
9:09pm Biden continues to flash his million dollar smile.
9:04pm Jumping straight into foreign policy. Biden commits to" find and bring to justice the men who killed Amb. Stevens. Get to the bottom of this." Talks about Bin Laden, Iraq. Says President has led with steady hand.
LAST THING WE NEED NOW IS ANOTHER WAR. AMEN.
8:45pm T-15 MINUTES, EVERYONE.