Tight Race Raises Stakes for Vice Presidential Debate


The fact of the matter is this; traditionally, Vice Presidential debates don't give Americans a whole lot to talk about.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. In 2008, Americans were intrigued over the much-anticipated debate debut of Sarah Palin, as her selection as John McCain's running mate shook up that particular race. There have been talking points and “zingers” from VP debates of the past, but generally speaking, the country is more focused on the main event. That is, what comes from the mouths of President Obama and Mitt Romney.

The aftermath of the first Presidential debate, however, has completely shifted the importance and expectations of the only Vice Presidential debate of the 2012 Election.

The face-to-face contest between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on October 11th could represent a complete shift in momentum for the Obama and Romney campaigns. How so?

Shifting the Momentum

Joe Biden is tasked with making up for lost ground. Barack Obama was noted to look tired and uninterested by Democrats and Republicans alike during the first debate. Critics took the President to task for not being tough enough on Romney by failing to refute his opponent's arguments or bringing up Romney's now-infamous 47% comments. As Romney has seemingly apologized for such comments and is seeing a rise in the polls due to his debate performance, Biden looks to stop that momentum in its tracks sooner rather than later.

“Ryan is going to face pressure to explain some of the dishonest claims he and Romney have been making,” Biden said regarding the upcoming debate. “Especially on things like Medicare, taxes and the auto industry.”

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan has the opportunity to build on the Romney campaign's current momentum. The day after the first debate between Obama and Romney, media on both the left and right acknowledged Romney's status as the apparent victor. Romney was noted to look confident and commanding; Ryan will look to continue to take command of the conversation over America's future. It should be noted, however, that the recent announcement of the unemployment rate falling below 8% has taken some wind out of the Romney campaign's sails. Ryan will look to state his party's case for the White House and draw attention to his running mate's strengths displayed in the past week.

“I expect the Vice President to come at me like a cannonball,” Ryan said of Biden. “He’ll be in full attack mode, and I don’t think he’ll let any inconvenient facts get in his way.”

It should be noted that both Biden and Ryan have been seemingly anonymous since their respective conventions; it's been reported that both candidates have been preparing heavily for their one-and-only confrontation. An astounding 70 million Americans tuned in to the first Presidential debate, and so there's no doubt that all eyes will be on these two men who are not often in the spotlight. Will they deliver? What can we expect?

Strengths and Weaknesses

Both candidates have their very specific strengths and weaknesses. Such attributes will most certainly come to light during the debate.

Biden certainly has age and experience on his side, having been involved in politics for nearly four decades. Likewise, Biden has been seen as a magnet for senior voters, a demographic that always remains crucial to elections and tends to lean to the right. Healthcare, and specifically Medicare, are expected to be cornerstones of Biden's debate strategy, speaking to seniors concerned over the future of their health benefits in the midst of the Affordable Care Act. Furthermore, Biden is known for his blue-collar upbringing and brutal honesty during his speaking appearances.

That brutal honesty has come back to bite him many times, however, especially in the eyes of the media. The Vice President has been known over the years for his gaffes, many of which come from his straightforward and “off the cuff” style of speaking. The upcoming debate would be an especially poor time for the Vice President to put his foot in his mouth. Biden's passionate approach could also be interpreted as aggressive, and so he'll have to be quite strategic when it comes to going after Ryan and Romney.

Paul Ryan is seen by many in the Republican party as a “numbers guy,” perhaps naturally given his role as Chairman of the House Budget Committee. Furthermore, Paul Ryan has youth on his side at the age of 42, contrasting his appeal with that of his running mate. Ryan is certainly knowledgeable of the economy, an issue that will inevitably come up on debate day and arguably remains the most important issue to American voters. During the debate, expect Ryan to come out with numbers, specifics and statistics to make his party's case.

On the flip side, Ryan is relatively untested when it comes to debating. He has been noted to get flustered during television interviews, and has also been accused of giving vague answers during such interviews, despite his seemingly vast knowledge of the economic realm. As Biden has often been cited as a relatively strong debater, whose performance was well-noted against Sarah Palin in 2008, Ryan's first test on the debate stage is a hefty one. The pressure is on for Ryan to prove himself to his party and the ultimately the country as being worthy of the White House.

The Bottom Line

With so much buzz coming off the first Presidential debate, the stakes for the Vice Presidential debate are incredibly high. What once was considered a relatively small contest now has the American public on their toes. The Vice Presidential candidates have the potential to shift the momentum for the entire election in their party's favor.

The question remains; who will pull it off? Who will come out on top? Who will make their case to small businesses?

We won't have to wait long to find out.

About the Author

Brent Barnhart

Brent Barnhart is a freelance content writer specializing in topics such as Internet marketing and content marketing for small businesses. His goal is to help business owners find their voices online and improve their content strategies. You can reach Brent or find out more at brentwrites.com.

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