Washington: Taking the gloves off, Vice President Joe Biden came swinging at his Republican opponent Paul Ryan as they clashed over everything from Libya and foreign policy to economy and healthcare in their high stakes debate.
Unlike President Barack Obama, who admittedly flubbed the first presidential debate against Republican challenger Mitt Romney by being too polite, Biden took an aggressive stance right from the word go in Thursday night's only vice-presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky.
Biden threw up his arms, laughed, scoffed and rolled his eyes in reaction to Ryan's attacks and often interrupted him as the Republican accused the White House of pursuing a foreign policy of weakness and a domestic policy based on mathematically questionable tax policies anchored in class warfare.
"With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey. Not a single thing he said is accurate," he said in response to Ryan's criticism of Obama administration's handling of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi before blasting Ryan for having "cut embassy security in his budget."
When Ryan criticised the administration's approach to Iran, warning of a "nuclear arms race in the Middle East", Biden responded with "This is a bunch of stuff".
To Ryan's proposals to reform Medicare into a "premium support" or voucher system, the vice president responded in a typical Biden refrain: "Folks, use your common sense: who do you trust on this?"
Making up for Obama's omission of Romney's infamous remarks that 47 percent of Americans were "moochers" or people who considered themselves primarily victims, Biden said: "I've had it up to here with this notion that, 'Forty-seven percent, it's about time they take some sort of responsibility here'."
In the end, it seemed to have worked with analysts proclaiming the encounter a draw though a quick post debate CNN poll declared Ryan a narrow winner by 48 to 44 percent
Democrats were hoping that though gaffe prone, a more experienced Biden could put Obama back into the game with a knockout performance.
Republicans too had reason to be pleased as a younger, smarter Ryan, 42, managed to hold his own even on tough foreign policy issues against the vastly more experienced man, 27 years his senior.
Romney has shot ahead of Obama in polls nationally and in several key swing states since his strong performance in the first presidential debate.
Several polls Thursday from CBS, The New York Times and Quinnipiac University, and from NBC, The Wall Street Journal and Marist College, found Romney gaining on Obama in Wisconsin, Florida and Colorado, while Obama maintained a lead in Ohio.
Obama and Romney face off in their second debate Oct 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.