The Washington Post

Vice presidential debate: Biden’s smirk gets mixed reactions

If President Obama lacked enthusiasm during last week’s presidential debate, then Vice President Biden made up for it during Thursday’s vice presidential debate with GOP nominee Paul Ryan. Biden’s aggressive approach, which included smirking and laughing, got a mixed reaction from debate watchers.

According to the Associated Press:

“Biden mockingly smiled, wagged his finger and couldn’t seem to stop interrupting Republican running mate Paul Ryan. ‘With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey,’ Biden said at one point, during an exchange on foreign policy. Democrats cheered his sharp tone in the only vice presidential debate. Republicans panned the vice president as disrespectful to his younger opponent.”

The GOP latched onto Biden’s demeanor and dubbed the vice president’s performance an “embarrassment,” according to The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez.

“The early word from the GOP side after Thursday night’s debate was that Vice President Biden ‘embarrassed himself’ in the face-off by interrupting his opponent and laughing openly.

“‘The vice president has found other forums in which to embarrass himself, and I think he found one more forum in which to embarrass himself,’ said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), chairman of the House GOP conference.

“‘I’m talking about the fact that the vice president of the United States, who didn’t know his facts, could not decide whether or not to giggle, shout, and he settled for interrupting all evening. … Maybe he didn’t realize there was a split screen and people were taking turns in order to have their views known,’ he added.”

The reaction to Biden’s smirk was varied more on Twitter, as Natalie Jennings points out:

“Joe Biden certainly seems to be having more fun in the debate stage than his running mate was last week. But the smile he has worn off and on throughout the debate is getting mixed reaction from debate watchers.”

Karl Rove (@KarlRove): Biden doing best imitation of Al Gore 00. Snickers, grimaces, and exaggerated gestures. #debate

Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan): Wow. Biden is radiating a lethal smirk...#PMTdebate

Sam Youngman (@samyoungman): People who like Biden will think this is the greatest debate ever. Folks who don’t will find him at his most obnoxious.


- Live Chat, Friday at Noon ET: Who won?

- Biden looks to make up for Obama’s stumble

- Too much ‘malarkey’?

- VIDEO: The debate in two minutes

- Dissecting their arguments

- FACT CHECKER: How accurate were Ryan’s claims about Iran?

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
We'll have half a million voters in South Carolina. I can shake a lot of hands, but I can't shake that many.
Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to a group of reporters about his strategy to regain support after a poor performance in the last debate
Fact Checker
Sanders’s claim that Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies’
Sanders said that Clinton was critical of Obama in 2008 for suggesting meeting with Iran. In fact, Clinton and Obama differed over whether to set preconditions, not about meeting with enemies. Once in office, Obama followed the course suggested by Clinton, abandoning an earlier position as unrealistic.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.