Coming on the heels of a strong and unexpected Romney performance in last week’s first debate against the President, Mitt has been surging in the polls and has helped to energize a party that has been sorely lacking in enthusiasm and optimism over their nominee’s chances in November. In the process, the first Presidential debate also left many Democrats and Obama supporters wondering if they may actually lose the White House.
This puts additional pressure on Vice President Joe Biden to deliver a performance that will either slow down or completely stop Romney’s recent momentum. With the debate only a couple of hours away, here are a few things you can expect to hear or look out for tonight:
1. If the conversation tomorrow is about either Biden or Paul – as individuals and not the stark ideological differences between the two campaigns as illustrated by either of them in their performance – they did it wrong.
2. Not much is likely to change unless one of them has a great night and the other has a bad night. A tie may simply blunt Romney’s momentum from the first debate – essentially granting the President a reprieve heading into next Tuesday’s 2nd debate – a win by Biden could end it. In 2004, Cheney stopped Kerry’s momentum after he won the first debate against Bush, when Dick debated Edwards. Kerry went on to win the remaining debates and lose the election.
3. Biden is likely to be aggressive and does not have to wear the kid gloves that he wore against Palin in 2008, when it could have been perceived as bullying a lesser opponent. Look for Biden to try to drag Ryan into the numbers, “Which is it, a $5 trillion tax cut or a $3 trillion tax cut? Because none of the numbers add up to make it budget-neutral as you claim and I can show you the Tax Policy Center’s report to prove it.” The Romney campaign has openly stated that they will not offer specifics on any of their plans and it is almost a guarantee that the question will be raised during the debate as to how they plan to pay for their proposed 20% tax cut. This lack of detail will likely be an opportunity that Biden and the President will continue to exploit.
4. Biden is likely to be looking for an opportunity to address and take advantage of the openings that President Obama did not take (and was heavily criticized for). Expect to hear the 47% come up, the term “personhood”, abortion, equal pay for women and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the difference of opinion on the fate of GM, Romney’s claim that his Healthcare plan would cover pre-existing conditions, labor unions, 31 consecutive months of job growth, under 8% unemployment etc. All arguments that the President should have made during what was supposed to be a Domestic Policy debate, and that focused on only 3 topics.
5. If Ryan can somehow continue the theme of Romney’s performance, by being vague and not being challenged on specifics, he’ll help the campaign.
6. Due to the perception from the first debate, Ryan is expected to win. This makes Biden the underdog who can make a bigger impression by exceeding low expectations, as Romney did in the first debate.
7. Biden is very skilled in his ability to connect with average people, this is a guy who still takes Amtrak home, talks about his family often and had a son who served in Iraq. Expect to hear personal stories in juxtaposition to Paul’s more technocratic approach and personality.
8. The moderator, Martha Raddatz. Look for her to try to avoid the mistakes of Jim Lehrer, who was heavily criticized in the first debate for being too passive and not challenging the candidates on their statements or enforcing the clock.
9. Look for Biden to be prepared to respond to the inevitable, “Are you better off?” theme that the Romney campaign has stolen from Reagan. The numbers are in Obama’s favor relating to jobs, unemployment, the stock market etc. Deficit is insanely high, but most Americans do not factor that into their ability to pay the bills each month and know a lot of that spending is stimulus, bailouts to stabilize the economy and war. Also, bin Laden is dead, you’ll hear his name too.
10. Lastly, this is one of the first VP debates in which the running mate (in this case, Ryan) is being campaigned against just as much as the nominee. This is due to the Ryan Budget and his proposed cuts to Medicare and changes to Social Security etc… particularly important to seniors (ahem, Florida) and the most reliable voting block. Expect these issues to come up by Biden, not to mention that Romney has essentially run away from the Ryan Budget on the campaign trail.
By: Dana Sciandra
Debate Information: Each debate will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC among others.
2nd Presidential Debate: October 16 @ 9:00pm – 10:30pm / Town hall format on foreign and domestic policy
3rd Presidential Debate: October 22 @ 9:00pm – 10:30pm / Foreign policy