Joe Biden was as combative as any Democrat could hope, but he struggled to get some of his key attacks on Romney/Ryan out in between his interruptions, laughter, know-it-all grins, and quirky gestures. Paul Ryan held his own and kept a respectful tone through most of the debate, including not breaking his expression or demeanor through Biden's rough and tumble approach.
If any voters are interested in any type of bipartisanship, they wouldn't hear this message from Biden. Funny old Uncle Joe didn't show up for this debate … mean, smartass, entitled Beltway insider Joe came hunting for bear. The old fighter got creamed on Libya and threw the intelligence community under the Obama campaign bus, got a few other shots in, but he came off looking old, tired, and terribly self-entitled. Not one new idea or word issued from Biden's mouth, except 5.9 million new jobs created during the Obama administration. I thought that talking point was lower (4.3 million?).
Perhaps the most telling exchange of the debate was the candidates' response about Afghanistan. Ryan mentioned gratitude toward the troops, and a family friend at an FOB in Afghanistan right now, and the need to bring all the troops home without a disaster. Biden immediately mentioned he had been to Afghanistan "at least 20 times, mostly in a helicopter, but sometimes in a vehicle."
He forgot to mention the troops.
Joe Biden mentioned no individuals outside his family and politicians (Ryan perhaps half a dozen individual stories, from family friends to those met on the campaign trail, to a family helped by Mitt Romney in Michigan). Biden made his Washington insider status and lengthy history in government crystal-clear. He mocked bipartisanship at every opportunity.
The biggest winner of this debate was Martha Raddatz, who kept the cranky Biden under as much control as possible. Ryan was polite and respectful, and kept the "Hey Girl!" face for the entire debate. He came across as caring and thoughtful. Raddatz held the candidates to within 1.5 minutes of each other (Obama had 4 minutes longer than Romney in the first presidential debate). Her questions were excellent and thoughtful.