2012 US Election, Fenja Berglund

Berglund: Biden wins Vice Presidential Debate

Winner: Joe Biden

Scores: Biden 78 | Ryan 76

Judge: Fenja Berglund

Reasons:

Joe Biden strove to maintain the upper hand throughout the entire debate not only through an aggressive style but also with solid application of facts throughout the debate.  His efforts paid off and he won a debate which was largely conducted on his terms.

At times Biden’s determination to keep the pressure on Paul Ryan was excessive, verging on counterproductive.    An occasional clever interjection has long been tacitly accepted in debate, but they must be rare and brilliant.  Frequent interruptions are bad form, as is overt smirking at the audience while your opponent is speaking.  Biden did effectively draw attention to factual errors but this could have been achieved within the format without so frequently talking over Ryan.   Interestingly, Biden shone brightest not during his interjections but when he adopted a more traditional speaking style, demonstrating a calm confidence which was very appealing.   At his best, such as on the minefield topic of abortion, he presented cleverly constructed and impressively presented arguments which left the issue firmly on his terms, as any debater should strive to do.

Ryan made a valiant effort to keep up with the onslaught from Biden.   He did not shy from genuine engagement on issues and seized opportunities to promote his views, his policies and even his leader.  Ryan’s speaking style was consistently good and appropriate to the forum.  He had moments of real eloquence and he generally used his allocated time well.  However at times, particularly when debating issues involving foreign policy, Ryan appeared to lose direction in the face of consistently superior application of facts.  Perhaps for the same reason he was simply not able to demolish his opponent’s arguments through analysis in the way that Biden to some of Ryan’s arguments.  Ultimately Ryan was simply unable to control the debate to the same extent as Biden and lost to a more consistent performance.

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