Ohio Democrats reassured by Biden performance

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Several voters supporting President Obama in downtown Columbus, Ohio, said they were reassured by Biden's performance -- hopeful that his feisty rebuttal to the Republican argument would start to make up for Obama's own lackluster debate performance a week ago.

Charlene Reynolds, 38, an Ohio state employee, said she'd been concerned going into the Thursday debate. Obama's numbers were slipping and now the campaign seemed to come down to Biden, who has a long record of verbal gaffes.
"I wasn't excepting much out of him, because he usually makes a fool of myself a lot of times, so I’m happy with last night," she said, "He didn’t make any really obvious mistakes, it’s what I was worried about. He was aggressive—and the president wasn’t in the first debate. I was just really happy with it."

She said Biden's laughing demeanor was "disrespectful at times." But she thought it was purposeful -- and effective.

"He got his point across -- that he thought that [what] Ryan was saying was nonsense. Ridiculous. Malarkey, I think he said," she said.

Likewise, Jessica Puleikis, 29, said she thought Biden's attitude was amusing.

"I thought it was funny. Honestly? In my opinion, I kind of thought Biden was thinking, ‘He’s young and stupid,’" she said, adding that she came away with much the same impression.

Though she voted for Obama four years ago, Puleikis said she's been undecided this year. Still, she said a few weeks ago she began leaning toward Obama again and said she likely made her final choice after the debate.

"From what I saw of Ryan, he came off very inexperienced. I just right now need someone who’s more experienced," she said. "The one thing that made me laugh is when Biden told Ryan, oh, so now you’re trying to be Jack Kennedy. That made me laugh. It showed Ryan’s inexperience."

Brian Williams, 19, a student who has already cast an early vote for Obama said Biden's performance was more aggressive than Obama's had been a week earlier.

"Obama seemed very relaxed about the situation—didn’t throw any good punches. He just accepted it," said Williams.

And unlike many commentators who focused on Biden's facial expressions, Williams was more concerned with Ryan's. "Ryan couldn’t get that smirk off his face. He always had a little smile on his face," he said.

But Nathan Dumas, 40, who will vote for Mitt Romney, said he found Biden's performance rude and over-the-top.

"The smugness and the bullying and the smiling and the laughing showed that Biden thought he was way too good for the medium. He totally took control. And the moderator seemed to let him take control," said Dumas, a retired veteran from Dublin, Oh. "It seemed like you almost felt sorry for Mr. Ryan. He looked like this poor kid, who’s kind of like the geeky kid in school who’s like, 'why are all picking on me?' But still trying to get his point across."

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.
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