On substance, he was weaker. He denied that the White House knew that Ambassador Christopher Stevens was attacked by terrorists rather than in a spontaneous demonstration prompted by an anti-Islam video. That's in vivid contrast with sworn testimony Wednesday that the State Department knew it was a terrorist attack all along.
Biden's statement was either an untruth or a confession of incompetence. If the State Department had the information, why didn't the White House?
Another telling moment came when Raddatz asked Biden what Obama would do about the budget deficit other than raise taxes on high earners. Raise taxes on high earners, Biden repeated again and again. That's the second-term agenda.
On entitlements, Biden said that Social Security and Medicare were "guaranteed." That's not what most young voters think. They understand in some visceral way that the current programs are unsustainable.
In his closing statement, Biden identified Romney's "47 percent of the people who won't take responsibility" with "my mother and father. He's talking about the places I grew up in, my neighbors in Scranton and Claymont."
Those people, born around 1920, would rally to candidates who promised to maintain Social Security and Medicare when Biden first ran for the Senate in 1972. They would understand his reference to Republican opposition to these programs when they were enacted in 1935 and 1965. But that's 77 and 47 years ago now.
But the Obama campaign wrote off the white working class last spring. Biden was making an appeal that worked in his political youth but not so much these days.
Polling suggests Obama lost ground with women, and the CNN instant poll showed Biden scoring badly with them. As for young people, will they be attracted to a man who keeps shouting "Malarkey!" a word not in common use for years?
In the two debates, voters saw a near-comatose Obama and a near-manic Biden -- and two sober, well informed Republicans. That's not a good contrast for Democrats.
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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