DANVILLE, Ky. -- Vice President Joe Biden frequently chided, interrupted and cackled at Republican presidential nominee Paul Ryan during a debate in which Democrats aimed to regain ground lost by President Obama when he faced off against Republican opponent Mitt Romney last week. Whatever the topic, from taxes to Medicare to foreign policy, one thing remained constant throughout the only vice presidential debate: Biden's dismissive eye rolling and interruptions. At every turn, he attacked Ryan and Romney.
He called Ryan's claim that Obama's foreign policy was unraveling "malarkey" and said Ryan's charge that the administration had a strained relationship with Israel was "a bunch of stuff."
In a display that sharply contrasted with Obama's laconic performance against Romney a week earlier, Biden let nothing Ryan said go unchallenged. When Ryan declared Obama's 2009 economic stimulus a waste of billions of dollars, Biden barked that Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, had asked for stimulus funds for his own state, claiming the money would help create jobs.
"I love that. I love that," Biden said, leaning back in his chair and laughing at Ryan. "This was such a bad program and he writes me a letter saying -- writes the Department of Energy a letter saying, 'The reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs.' His words. And now he's sitting here looking at me."
Though more restrained, Ryan also struck several blows on Romney's behalf, particularly when Biden attacked Romney for claiming that 47 percent of Americans were dependent on government and failing to take responsibility for their own lives.
"I know you are under duress to make up for lost ground," Ryan said, "but I think people would be better served if we don't interrupt each other."
Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, seemed most comfortable digging into the wonky details to explain how the Obama administration had failed in its first term to remedy the nation's most critical problem, the ailing economy.
"Job growth in September was slower than it was in August, and August was slower than it was in July," Ryan said. "We're heading in the wrong direction; 23 million Americans are struggling for work today; 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty today. This is not what a real recovery looks like."
As the debate wore on, Republicans took to Twitter to express dismay with Biden's attitude toward Ryan.
"FACT: Biden has interrupted Ryan 19 times 41 minutes into the debate," GOP strategist Joe Pounder tweeted.
Another Republican strategist, Alex Vogel, told The Washington Examiner that Biden's performance was wholly unappealing.
"Biden's managed to combine rudeness, condescending and inappropriate into one strangely toothy package," Vogel said.
But Democrats celebrated Biden's passionate performance as evidence that Obama would be able to recover from his own laconic appearance and regain momentum in the final weeks of the campaign.