Former vice president Joe Biden said many of the right things in the debate (e.g., President Trump is a foreign policy ignoramus; he and his son Hunter Biden did nothing wrong), but he did not express it in as punchy and memorable way as he needs to in order to convince voters that he’s fully capable of giving Trump a thrashing in 2020.

The day after the debate, he tried to counter the impression of rhetorical flabbiness with this ad:

That’s the sort of pithy response Biden will need to sharpen his message and erase doubts about his strength as a candidate.

On Wednesday, he released a whole series of clipped answers from the debate that eliminated excess verbiage:

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Now that’s an argument that contrasts his opponent’s lack of foreign policy expertise with his own understanding of foreign policy dilemmas and experience with world leaders. He should easily box Trump’s ears about his foreign policy incompetence and naivete. Biden, for example, should feel free to ridicule Trump for his cringe-worthy, childish letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as the media readily did:

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The immediate reaction from the media was “HOW IS THIS THING REAL,” and yet, according to the White House, it totally is! That means that the president of the United States sat down and either penned—or more likely dictated—a letter in which he told the president of Turkey, “Don’t be a tough guy,” “Don’t be a fool,” history “will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen,” and then, in what might be the absolute craziest way to end a piece of correspondence that references “slaughtering thousands of people,” signed off with: “I will call you later.”

Biden really has not made enough of the argument that his opponents have a steep learning curve in foreign policy (and in executive branch leadership), which he does not.

Biden also doubled down on his attacks on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who showed vulnerability on funding Medicare-for-all. Biden did go after her for failing to propose a viable way to pay for a plan that costs more the $30 trillion, but candidly, other debate participants made the arguments more effectively. He gave it another shot on Wednesday.

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The New York Times reported on Biden’s post-debate remarks on Wednesday in Ohio: "It’s fascinating that the person who has a plan for everything has no plan for the single most consequential issue in this election in the minds of the American people across the board,” Biden said. He added, “And, you know, credibility matters. It matters. And the question that I think that Senator Warren is going to have to face, she’s going to have to tell the truth or the question will be raised about whether or not she’s going to be candid and honest with the American people.” In his sharpest jab yet, he argued, “The last thing the Democrats should be doing is playing Trump’s game, trying to con the American people to think this is easy.”

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That is the kind of in-your-face, scrappy candidate we saw dismember then-GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate in 2012. The headlines at the time blared: “Joe Biden’s alpha-male display leaves Paul Ryan overwhelmed in VP debate." In that debate, the media lauded Biden’s ability to dominate an inexperienced candidate. (“Vice President Joe Biden effectively made the case for a second Obama term, leaving Paul Ryan back on his heels.”)

Perhaps Biden can communicate that same intensity in ads and free media appearances. The ads themselves suggest that the Biden campaign is aware of the need to cut off his infamous run-on sentences and the word salads he too frequently serves up.

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Maybe through more aggressive rhetoric attacking the presumptive front-runner Warren (rather than defending his front-runner status) Biden can re-create the respect he earned through his scrappy performance on the debate stage in 2012. Now would be a good time to prune back the overgrowth of words and verbal tics that make his message fuzzier and less effective than it needs to be. If he cannot, more verbally adept competitors might pass him in the race.

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