Joe Biden came out swinging at Paul Ryan, flailing wildly and landing a few punches on his own jaw as well as his opponent’s. He showed the kind of spirit and populist anger that President Barack Obama was so conspicuously lacking and has cheered up many demoralised Democrats.
But Biden’s performance here in Danville, Kentucky was both comical and self-defeating. Just as Al Gore sighed and rolled his eyes in 2000, so Biden smirked and guffawed. He gesticulated wildly and jabbed his finger. He interrupted Ryan and the moderator Martha Raddatz. Many women and swing voters will have hated it.
Perhaps the even bigger problem the Obama campaign will have in the coming days is that Biden, again just like Gore in 2000, repeatedly exaggerated and mischaracterised for effect. And worse than Gore – who was caught in a series of small lies in 2000 – Biden was demonstrably untruthful in some big respects.