Continued from page 2

Mr. Ryan’s youthful image was pumped up further on Thursday after Time magazine released a series of photographs that showed him posing while lifting weights in a red hat turned backwards.

Mr. Biden also reinforced the notion that he has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth when he touted last week that Mr. Obama wants a $1 trillion tax increase.

The two men lived up to their billing on Thursday — their styles couldn’t have been more different.

Mr. Ryan took notes, took sips from a cup of water and held a thin smile on his lips while Mr. Biden was talking.
But the vice president could not contain himself for much of the debate, rolling his eyes, repeatedly laughing at Mr. Ryan’s answers, talking over him and trying to correct him.

“That’s not what they said,” Mr. Biden interjected at one point when Mr. Ryan said actuaries had questioned some of the parts of the president’s health-care law.

“Mr. Vice President, I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for the last round,” Mr. Ryan retorted, referring to Mr. Obama’s bad debate last week. “I think we’d be better served if we don’t keep interrupting each other.”

The feistiness did not end there.

When Mr. Ryan noted that Democratic President John F. Kennedy “lowered tax rates …” Mr. Biden interrupted with a mocking “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?”

And when the issue of withdrawal dates from Afghanistan came up, while Mr. Ryan was giving his answer, Mr. Biden spoke over him: “We. Will. Leave. In. 2014.”

The back-and-forth left debate analysts wondering whether Mr. Biden’s performance would be viewed as the vice president being a happy warrior or surly old man.

Instant polls showed mixed reactions, with CNN polling saying that Mr. Ryan walked away the victor, and CBS News giving the nod to Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Ryan hunkered down in recent days preparing for the showdown at Centre College. Mr. Biden aimed to do what his boss could not: draw clear distinctions with Mr. Ryan, while energizing the Democratic base and taking some of the wind out of the sails of the Republican ticket.

Mr. Ryan, meanwhile, aimed to continue to chop down Mr. Obama and keep his ticket’s momentum cranking along with less than four weeks to go before Election Day.

By the time the debate ended, the two had wrestled over who would do a better job safeguarding Medicare and spelled out their views on their Catholic faith. They also touched on the the hot-button issue of abortion — an issue Mr. Romney stirred up on the campaign trail this week when he told the Des Moines Register he would keep current abortion laws on the books.

Defending the ticket against Mr. Biden description of Mr. Romney’s secretly recorded comments about dismissing 47 percent of Americans as “unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives,” Mr. Ryan praised Mr. Romney as a man who gave 30 percent of his income to charity.

Story Continues →