Joe Biden and Paul Ryan went after each other in their vice presidential debate Thursday. It made for good TV, though 90 minutes seemed a long time for such a contentious exchange. Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer observed: “If you read the transcript, I think it’s dead even. If you heard it on radio, Biden won. If you watched on television, he lost.” That’s because, as many others also concluded, Biden’s sarcastic smiling and laughing and frequent interruptions made him appear to viewers not just aggressive but obnoxious and bullying. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza even concluded that “Ryan was largely a bystander,” including among the debate’s winners Biden’s last 15 minutes, moderator Martha Raddatz, political junkies/party bases and the term “my friend.” Cillizza’s losers list included Biden’s first 75 minutes, nonverbal communication, the unmentioned Big Bird and undecided voters. “The bickering that dominated the middle section of the debate – OK, the whole debate – is just the sort of stuff independents/undecideds don’t like. It’s easy to imagine they simply turned off the debate – if they were watching it at all,” Cillizza wrote. Both candidates also had trouble with the facts.
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