The Vice Presidential debate of 2012

On Oct 11, 2012 Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) will meet in a debate that will seek to either re-ignite support for the re-election of President Obama, or solidify the lead and likelihood of a win by Mitt Romney. That’s what both political parties are stating about their respective candidates, but a far more realistic view is that while it may be quite entertaining and informative, it has little direct impact on the election if history holds true.

Presidential elections are won and lost by the head of the ticket in most cases. The average American can’t remember what VP Al Gore or Dick Cheney said in a debate, or if President Ford had a Vice President at all (a bit of a trick question there). While the results of Biden vs. Ryan may blip the election polls, that will be eclipsed by any result from the 2nd Presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

That said, it does not mean that critical information will not be shared with the public. Both VP Biden and Rep. Ryan are intelligent men and good debaters. Both have a firm hold on their respective areas of experience – Biden on foreign policy, Ryan on the national budget and economy.

2012 Vice Presidential debate

The biggest advantage for Vice President Biden is his experience as the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Add to this that he has been through several debates running for President and a Vice Presidential debate in 2008. He has a clear advantage in experience on a debate of this magnitude, and of one subject that is critical to many Americans.

The problem for VP Biden is that he has no power to dictate foreign policy, as is clear from the decisions of President Obama during the past 3 years. He also has the problem of trying to justify decisions that he would not have made, based on his public statements as a Senator and running for the presidency. Lastly, VP Biden is a gaffe machine extraordinaire.

For Rep. Ryan, dominance is expected when it comes to discussing the budget and the failures of the Obama Administration with the economy. He has been tested by Democrats and the mainstream media during the public discussions on Obamacare, and his 2 budget proposals.

But Rep. Ryan is out of his league on foreign policy. He is also tasked with trying to state the sweeping changes he believes in under a timeframe he has never been limited to before. In addition, he is addressing not only an opponent but also directly pitching his ideas to a public that is not even remotely aware of the details of either his plans nor the current fiscal status of the Government. Lastly, even if elected, the public is aware that his input will be muted at best.

Walking into the event, both men will have advantages that neither could really have planned for. Biden will have the benefit of unemployment rates that are finally reported as lower than when he and President Obama took office. Rep. Ryan will undoubtedly highlight the absurdity of a decrease in the unemployment rate while more Americans are out of work than January 2009; but trying to debunk or detail how the unemployment rate is calculated will lose Americans as fast as a televised math test.

The feather in the cap of Rep. Ryan will likely come out of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the security failures of Benghazi. As has come to be known, the attacks in Libya were not a surprise uprising based on an unknown and largely unseen movie, but a predictable and feared terrorist attack planned well in advance. The warnings of the suspected attack went unheeded by Secretary Clinton’s State Department and the Obama Administration. Worse is the fact coming to light that 24 hours after the event the White House was aware that this was a terrorist act, and chose to continue to misinform the public for days on the nature of the attack. VP Biden will surely counter with the same response that the White House has used to date – that they had other intelligence reports that did not confirm the terrorist nature of the attack – which will only appeal to those without knowledge of the Oversight Committee hearing.

Thus both men will have an attack point that directly stabs at the strength of the other. Both are capable enough to wield the information to their advantage. So the question will be which can seem the most credible and likeable to the public. The wildcard is if VP Biden commits a gaffe, which is quite possible.

We predict that Rep. Ryan will win, based on his superior knowledge of the economy and Government spending. We place the odds of a gaffe by VP Biden at 3:1 against, as he is an old hat at a debate on this level. Whatever the outcome, it will be all but forgotten on October 16th when President Obama and Mitt Romney face off again.


M V Consulting, Inc does NOT advocate any candidate or incumbent in any local, State, or national election. We seek to provide the broadest coverage and information on each candidate and incumbent so that voters may make an informed decision on how they want to vote – whatever that vote may be.

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