When I sat down to watch last night’s Vice-Presidential Debate it was to observe each candidate and assess what kind of presence they projected and how they related to their viewing audience.
Biden, who had to make-up for Obama’s lackluster performance in the first Presidential Debate, was prepared and ready for action. When answering questions he was clear and articulate. He was passionate and expressed himself with good vocal variety and purposeful hand gestures reinforcing what he was saying. He primarily maintained eye contact with the moderator, ABC’s Martha Raddatz. Unfortunately on several occasions when discussing Medicare, when he looked directly into the camera appealing to the American public it felt abrupt and forced.
Even so, overall Biden’s performance was strong, credible and aggressive. If his goal was to level the playing field for round 2 of the Presidential Debates, he achieved it.
What struck me about Ryan’s performance were some similarities to Romney’s approach– they must have had the same coaching. Both candidates remained steady, avoiding any extremes in their delivery. Each was clear and articulate, expressing their views using a conversational tone. They aligned what they were saying with how they expressed themselves — their words, body language and voice all in-synch. Both Ryan and Romney kept a pleasant facial expression and looked alert and engaged, appearing to listen to what their opponent was saying
Ryan made some strong, assertive points, and maintained his cool under fire. But where he diverges from a Romney-esque style is a sense that he’s less in command than Romney, less passionate, more about facts than translating those facts into a story.
Overall, Ryan was confident, credible and respectful in his delivery, allowing Romney to maintain a strong position going into the October 16th Town Hall Meeting.
I’d say stylistically this debate was a draw. However, there were some behaviors that got in the way for both men and should be avoided in the future. . .
Did you notice how Ryan took a sip of water following every comment he made? Because of the pattern (talk, sip; talk sip) I suspect it was a nervous mannerism that he needs to alter.
Biden would smile and laugh, while Ryan was speaking. It was the “smirk” coupled with the phrase “as my friend . . .” that added insult to injury and is one of the primary reasons the press is describing Biden as condescending.
In many ways, last night’s vice-presidential debate was a non-event. It did however give insight to both candidates’ character and leadership abilities.
What do you think?