Biden v Ryan debate: Feisty, aggressive and great television

Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan Credit: Reuters

Exhale. That was some riveting debate.

Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan gave us the debate that we should have enjoyed in Denver between the two main candidates.

This time it was feisty, aggressive and great television.

Who won? Partisans on both sides will say their man did. They fought over Libya, Iran, Syria, jobs, taxes.

The focus of the post-debate analysis is Joe Biden's extraordinary performance.

His extravagant hand gestures, his wide smiles, constant exasperated laughter, aggressive interruptions - was it appealing or annoying? Relaxed or smug? Appropriate or rude?

The immediate blogosphere and network commentary is that it may have ended up as something of a draw with both sides happy.

Democrats are delighted: Biden showed fire and urgency.

In other words he showed Obama why his performance in Denver was lamentable.

Biden gave encouragement to disheartened liberal activists.

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan

Republicans say Ryan emerged an enhanced figure - calm and in control, going toe-to-toe with a testy and volcanic Vice President.

They are claiming Ryan wasn't provoked and made no blunders.

One top Republican called Biden an "embarrassment" and disrespectful, and claimed Biden interrupted Ryan 82 times.

Vice Presidential debates rarely matter. This may have been different.

Paul Ryan and Joe Biden shake hands after their vice presidential debate

There is urgency to all of this because the last week has seen a stunning surge in support for Mitt Romney.

Suddenly he is either tied with President Obama or according to some polls now moving ahead.

In fact there were two clear winners last night: the debate itself and the American people.

This was substantive and impressive.