Campaign watchers on both sides of the aisle seemed to agree that challenger Mitt Romney was the aggressor during the first presidential debate last week, while President Obama appeared to dial things back a bit too much.
Nobody was making those claims on Friday (October 12), though, after Vice President Joe Biden went toe-to-toe with GOP veep candidate Rep. Paul Ryan and the two men duked it out for 90 minutes in an entertaining, contentious and lively debate.
MTV News’ Power of 12 hit the campus of New York’s Baruch College to watch the showdown and talk to students afterwards to get their take on the first, and only, vice presidential debate.
“I think it was a lot better than the presidential debate,” said Angelica Martinez, 26. “I think the Obama/Biden campaign was able to portray their points a lot better.”
Briana Boyd, 19, agreed, dubbing the debate just plain “awesome” and entertaining. “I feel like the topics that were discussed really said a lot about both what the candidates want to do and how they’re going to react to what the other has to say.”
With personal, touching tales about their families, their losses and the hard realities that made them who they are today, both Biden and Ryan made use of their all-American bootstrap stories to put a human face on their respective tickets while reaching out to the all-important middle-class voting bloc.
And that, perhaps more than anything, is what resonated with Martin Schmid, 18. “I think we got to see who they’re like, what kind of people they are,” he said. “That’s important too because you’re electing this person, who is this person, what kind of person are they?”
Pundits on the right quickly jumped on what some characterized as Biden’s attack dog style, counting up the number of times he interrupted Ryan, rolled his eyes or laughed at something his opponent claimed.
“I feel like Biden totally overshadowed Ryan, but not because of his experience, but just because he’s a better speaker,” opined Lena Pertsovsky, 21, who felt the vice president came off as rude by interrupting and talking over Ryan. “Biden did come off, to me at least, as really interruptive,” said Schmid. “His smiles all the time, his making faces … I didn’t like that.”
Boyd, however, enjoyed Biden’s style, and loves his toothy grin, saying that it was a nice recovery for the campaign after the Romney team had “called their bluff” in the wake of Obama’s lackluster debate performance. Farhana Hassan, 20, said, however, that it just felt to her like “a father talking down on his son the entire time,” which was a turn-off.
Check back for coverage of Tuesday’s second presidential debate and stick with MTV’s Power of 12 throughout the 2012 election season.