They called it the “Thrill in the Ville" and while it was not quite Ali/Frazier, the two number twos in the Kentucky race to be president served up a knockabout debate that left both men standing, and both sides claiming a win.
In truth, the fiery confrontation will succeed on the Democrat side in stopping the rot that set in the moment Barack Obama left the stage in Denver last week, and on the Republican side will please them that their young VP candidate can go toe to toe with Joe Biden.
The debate was heavy on foreign policy, with questions on Libya, Afghanistan, Israel, Syria and Iran. This fell into Biden's lap, long a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he called Ryan's argument on Israel a, "bunch of stuff" and his statement attacking the Obama foreign policy, "a bunch of malarkey."
Ryan's strongest suit was on the economy and his closing argument was crisp and targeted, saying that President Obama had left Americans with a “string of broken promises” on health care, taxes and the deficit.
“The president likes to say he’s got a plan. He gave a speech,” Mr. Ryan said. “You see, that’s what we get in this administration. Speeches. What we need is leadership.”
Independent polls following the debate showed that both men did well, with no overall winner. So both move on to campaign another day.
Paul Ryan will be in Ohio later, and the state is shaping up to be the key in four weeks time. It is difficult to see a route for the Republican ticket to win without taking the 18 electoral college votes that it brings.
Biden quickly leaves the Bluegrass State and heads straight to Paul Ryan’s home turf of Wisconsin, campaigning with his wife in the back yard of the man he faced across a hall last night.
The polls are tightening there and Ryan said last week that he thought they were, “looking good”.
The President will spend the day at the White House taking care of his day job.
He does not have the luxury of being able to campaign full time, there is a country to run.
His message ahead of his next head to head with Mitt Romney is clear, though, and has two key points: "Mitt changes his views with the weather; and go out and vote for me as soon as you can."
His recent speeches have hit Romney hard on his seemingly shifting views on healthcare, taxes and abortion, and he is using the speech to encourage people who turned out in their millions four years ago, to do the same again.
In Miami yesterday his attack - and his appeal - was clear: “Now you wouldn't know this listening to the new latest version of Mitt Romney. He's trying to go through an extreme makeover. After running for more than a year in which he called himself severely conservative. Mitt Romney is trying to convince you that he was severely kidding.”
The president then added; “I need you to keep believing in me. I need you to help me finish the job. And if you’re willing to stand with me, and work with me, and knock on some doors with me, and make some phone calls for me, we’ll win Florida again.”
Tomorrow the president heads to debate school in Virginia, where he will spend the next three days preparing for the second confrontation with Mitt Romney on Long Island on Tuesday.
He needs all the time he can get.
After the VP debate he said, "I thought Joe Biden did great, and I couldn't be any prouder." His supporters will be hoping he can do the same in four days time.
Romney hits the road to Virginia and Ohio today, two states that he needs to win next month and which have moved in his direction since his performance at the Denver debate.
Last night's Kentucky derby leaves us racing towards election day, and half a dozen states are now allowing voting, and some like Idaho and Iowa have already seen more than a week of early ballots.
By the end of October nearly every state will see people lining up to choose their next president, a fact not lost on the candidates who are appearing in states just as key deadlines in the voting schedule pass.
If you thought this election was a month away, think again, it is already here.