Focus back on Obama as VP debate ends in draw

Twenty eight million people watched Paul Ryan, left, square up to Joe Biden. Photo: Reuters

Now we know how many watched the fiery Vice Presidential debate last night: 28 million in the first hour, dropping to 17 million by the end.

Those will be disappointing figures for Democrats, way down on the celebrated Palin-Biden ("Can I call you Joe?") debate of four years ago. Paul Ryan is no Sarah Palin.

The bigger question is this: Not how many watched, but rather did it steady badly fraying Democratic Party nerves?

It has brought Obama some extra time but the President must deliver a passionate and riveting performance on Tuesday if he is to halt the Romney-Ryan surge.

Many people are judging the VP slugfest a draw. Biden and Ryan avoided gaffes; both pleased partisans within their own party; both probably failed to seal the deal with swing voters.

That's just as well - unless there is a catastrophic event, neither will be President. Only Obama and Romney can persuade the American people they have the right prescription for an ailing America.

The President goes into seclusion this weekend in Virginia to study for the debate. He had better emerge with some good quips, more engaged body language and some fire in his belly.

Otherwise this election could slip away from him and the transformational President who models himself on Abraham Lincoln will be looking for a new home and a new job.