Joe Biden and Paul Ryan dressed up and entered ready to mix it up. Biden is a straight-talker who has been around forever. Biden has not only seen it done, he has done it. Paul Ryan is thoughtful and has built a strong reputation for his intellect and for his legislative leadership.

Both men made and scored strong points. Ryan successfully clarified his and his running mate's positions on several issues like tax cuts and Medicare. But he was weak on foreign matters, especially Syria and Iran.

Biden, for his part, stopped the bleeding from the first presidential debate by being aggressive and by asserting that he was at the President's side when the United States was hit by its worst economic crisis in decades and with two wars. But, frankly, Biden was supercilious, gratuitously belittling, and at times disrespectful.

There were high points tonight:

  • Biden and Ryan poignantly represented the debate Catholics are having today. What does it mean to be a Catholic? Both are, yet different.
  • A very spirited debate on Afghanistan. Honest and healthy. Both men representing their side well.
  • Ryan: this is what politicians do when they do not have a program to run on. They scare people.
  • Biden: these guys have not been high on Social Security.
  • Biden: cut costs of Medicare. Extended life of Medicare till 2024 and saved money for seniors - wellness visit and filling donut-hole.
  • Biden: we cut costs of Medicare. AMA and AARP supported what we did.
  • Ryan: Medicare is going bankrupt. Save it by reforming it for future, not hurt current recipients. Obamacare hurts seniors.
  • Biden: crunch!!! Ryan asked for stimulus. Ryan admitted.
  • Ryan: they passed stimulus and economy grow. They had one-party rule and they funded special interests.
  • Biden: This man (Ryan) voted for two wars on a credit card.
  • Biden: I know suffering. We saved 200,000 jobs by saving autos, 5.2 million jobs. Let us keep the middle class tax cut. Show me a policy.
  • Ryan: Mitt is generous. Sometimes people don't always say what they meant.
  • Ryan: First time a GOP candidate has mentioned real names of real people.
  • Ryan: unemployment is 10% in Scranton. Economy is only growing 1.3%, slowing each month. This is not a real recovery.
  • Biden: instead of signing pledges to not raise taxes, Republicans should level with middle class. They are holding middle class hostage.
  • Biden: we saved GM. 1.7 trillion dollars was lost before we got in.
  • Biden: Obama has met with Bibi Netanyahu. The Iranian economy is suffering. Iran has no weapons ready.

Undecided voters, who were probably not watching, probably were not convinced. But Biden hit the right notes for Democrats who were scared and saw their clear lead nationally and in battleground states evaporate after the October 3 debate. He stopped the bleeding.

Ryan, for his part, showed he deserved his place on the ticket and held his own.

I am going to score it for Biden because he helped set the table for Obama.