Last week, President Obama looked like he didn’t want to be debating Mitt Romney in the first place. This week, Vice President Joe Biden seemed like he never wanted his debate with Paul Ryan to end.
Post-debate commentary tends to focus on who won and who lost. I’d give the edge to Biden, but Ryan delivered a solid performance, and it’s hard for me to imagine many voters changing their minds because of a vice presidential debate.
But what’s unquestionably true is that Biden succeeded tonight. He had a simple job: Stop the bleeding. Buck up the troops. Make all those Democrats out there who’ve been fighting for the Obama campaign feel that the Obama campaign is also fighting for them. And so Biden came out tonight and picked a fight. He did everything Democrats wished Obama has done a week ago. He called out Ryan’s “malarkey” early and forcefully. He returned again and again to the 47 percent comments. He fought for core Democratic issues like protecting Medicare and Social Security.
The post-debate spin told the tale. The Romney campaign argued Biden was too aggressive, too bullying, too mean. The Obama campaign argued that Biden had destroyed Ryan. Judging from my Twitter feed, most Democrats agreed. They saw the fight in Biden that they’d wanted to see in Obama. They felt the Obama campaign had learned from last week and changed their strategy. That was Biden’s job tonight, and he did it.
But if it was Biden’s job tonight, it’s really Obama’s job going into the homestretch in the election. Biden gave Democrats hope tonight. But the real question is whether, in the next presidential debate, Obama will give them change.