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Friends, Families Dissect Close Debate Between Biden, Ryan

Armchair analysts at Patch's debate viewing party in Wauwatosa were split on outcome in both style and substance, but Biden may have tipped the ball in at the buzzer.

Unlike last week's presidential debate, there was no clear winner this time around.

But the for dozens of people who attended Patch's public showing of the vice presidential debate at the Rosebud Cinema in Wauwatosa, Vice President Joe Biden might have beaten U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan by the thinnest of margins.

If it had been a football game, you would have to say it came down to the last seconds — with the final play disputed.

On style points, the consensus was that Biden was penalized heavily for smiling and laughing at Ryan, and drew personal fouls for interrupting him. Most people on both sides felt that way.

But some also said Ryan’s smirking, and playing fast and loose with facts set him back a few yards, too.

  • You're invited: RSVP now for Patch's next debate viewing party on Tuesday
  • Live blog replay: A look back at our real-time coverage

On substance, Biden may have had the slight edge with experience — although by no means everyone agreed, and no one’s mind was changed.

It came down to those willing to put partisanship aside and judge on their honest gut reactions.

Who would be your drinking buddy?

“Paul Ryan is my congressman, he’s a real nice guy,” said Ray McKee of Elm Grove, a former Wauwatosa police officer. “He’s probably just too dour. That’s the way he is. He was fine, but Joe held his own. He’s a very interesting guy, good speaker.

“I’m a Republican. I try not to be biased, and it won’t swing my vote. Joe would have to walk on water to get my vote," McKee added. “But Joe had to be aggressive. You kind of want them to go for the jugular once in a while. And that’s what this was, two different styles.”

Ryan “was aggressive, too, in his own wonky way,” McKee said. “But if I wanted to have a beer with one of the two — I’d go with Joe. He’s just a more interesting, colorful guy.”

Better than a wedding for politically opposed pals

Dennis Rechcygl and Pat LaBreque from Sanbornton, NH, were in town for a wedding and came out with Pat’s bosom friend Christine McLaughlin. The two women used to work together at a Milwaukee public relations firm, LeBreque a graphic designer and McLaughlin a writer. Each thought the other was the best at her craft.

But, “politically, we’re polar opposites,” McLaughlin said.

“This is probably the highlight of my trip,” LaBreque said, “coming out to this event. Way better than a wedding.”

After the tilt, LaBreque said she was put off by Biden’s style.

“I’m a Romney fan,” she said. “I really didn’t appreciate Biden’s attitude. In a normal debate, I would have really liked to have seen them both… serious. I don’t need the smiles, I don’t need the smirks, I don’t need the laughs — I just want to hear the words. And I really feel that Biden interfered in the debate with his behavior.

“I’m really sorry that happened, because I wanted to listen to him. I just couldn’t put aside my anger," LaBreque added. "So, I think the tone of the debate is going to decide it, not the words, and that’s too bad. I’d rather have had just a serious debate without the emotion.”

Her friend McLaughlin certainly agreed with that sentiment — but turned it around.

 “I thought that Biden did do a better job of answering the actual questions that were asked, and not just going off to the talking points,” she said. “I am an American citizen, and I want answers and suggestions and plans.

“I don’t care who wins a silly debate," she said. "That’s irrelevant to the American people winning. What I want to know is, are we getting someplace, are we protected? We are working harder than ever before, and I don’t like the suggestion that many of us are somehow slacking.”

Tie goes to the savvy veteran – despite his demeanor

“I don’t think there’s a winner,” said Julia Bauer of Racine, with the debate two-thirds over. “There’re both doing very well. I’m surprised that Ryan has stepped up as much as he has — I’ll give him that. But I think Biden is obviously more experienced, he has more facts and is — a better leader.”

“But there’s no clear winner. Especially about the war in Afghanistan. Biden is adamant about being out, and telling everyone we’re going to be out in 2014, and Ryan is not going to commit to that, he’s not saying that’s exactly when he’d be out – might be sooner, might be later, whatever, he’s flexible."

As for demeanor, Bauer did find Biden a bit grating.

“Way too much chuckling,” she said. “But I think his interruptions are valid. That’s all right.”

Bauer brought her grandson, Luke, who at 9 years old, and wearing a Yankees cap (he was born in New York) would rather be at a political debate with Grandma than home watching a baseball game.

“I just think it’s interesting,” Luke said – but he had no opinion on who won.

Family feels final minute was most telling

The Zydek family — Steve and Heather live in Wauwatosa — made a reunion of it when Steve’s brother Dave, who lives in Hinsdale, IL, was planning to come up for a professional conference. When they told their mom and dad, Barbara and Stanley, about the debate, they came up from Algonquin, IL.

“My brother told me about a viewing event,” Dave Zydek said, “and I’d never watched a debate with a live audience before, so I thought that would be kind of cool.”

Steve Zydek said: “What brings me here is I’m encouraged by the communal aspect of trying to bring people together in a common space to get in touch with what’s going on politically, nationally and locally – that’s what brought us here.”

Barbara Zydek said, before the debate started, that the whole family shared strong, common political views — but she still hoped to bring an open mind and a neutral attitude to the session.

Stanley Zydek hinted at where things stood, though.

“I voted for Obama, and I’m pretty likely vote for Obama again, although that isn’t absolutely certain,” he said. “I don’t think he’s done all that well. But I do not much like your young man from Wisconsin.”

Afterward, Stanley acknowledged it had been a see-saw battle, found Ryan’s smirking just as bad as Biden’s chuckling, and said it was the final minute that put it all in perspective for him.

“In their closing statements,” he said, with the rest of the Zydeks nodding in agreement, “Biden sounded sincere, straightforward, and spoke from the heart about his beliefs as an American.

“Ryan gave us a commercial, a memorized spiel. It was all talking points. It felt artificial, and that’s who I feel he is.”

James R Hoffa October 13, 2012 at 05:28 PM
@Dave Koven - What were you drinking when you decided to go all blue-fister against our Governor?
Keith Schmitz October 13, 2012 at 06:05 PM
What a crude a imbecilic remark @whoeveryouare
Keith Schmitz October 13, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Kinda reminds me of the aviator scene from Night at the Opera where Harpo has to speak on the radio and tries to put it off by drinking non-stop glasses of water.
Keith Schmitz October 13, 2012 at 06:09 PM
We got your lies right here -- http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/the-vp-debate-cinches-it-paul-ryan-is-unqualified-to-step-in-as-potus/263531/. Now Bob can whine.
Bob McBride October 13, 2012 at 06:22 PM
As you wish... Pay Hoffa the 50 bucks you owe him, you hypocritical, race-baiting, grumpy old cheapskate.
oak creek resident October 13, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Biden came across as the typical liberal. Rude, embarassing, and childish. The man is 1 step from the presidency, yet chuckes and laughs while his opponent is speaking? Incredibly rude and in poor taste, just like most liberals I know.
oak creek resident October 13, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I hate Bren. I hate anyone who thinks its ok to act like an extremely rude a-hole while your opponent is talking 3 feet away from you.
oak creek resident October 13, 2012 at 06:38 PM
@lyle Partisanship? How dare you accuse HE of the very thing you do. Typical liberal projection, performed by a weak liberal coward.
oak creek resident October 13, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Biggest lie of the night was by Biden: Nobody who makes under a million will have their taxes raised! The next day Obama's own spokesman said it was a LIE. Actual threshold is 250,00. Bye bye small businesses.
NObama 2012 October 13, 2012 at 07:05 PM
VP Biden is a horses a*s along with the entire Democrat Party. If you vote for a Democrat you're doing a disservice to yourself and your country.
Lee October 13, 2012 at 08:08 PM
What if you vote for candidate who is not a republican or democrat?
morninmist October 13, 2012 at 10:48 PM
PaulRyanWatch ‏@PaulRyanWatch See front pages of 6 WI newspapers with AP expose on #PaulRyan today: http://ow.ly/es94j . Not in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. #p2 Retweeted by Melissa Ryan
morninmist October 13, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Gregg Chadwick ‏@greggchadwick RT @MiltShook Once more, in last 32 years only 2 presidents have overseen an overall decrease in the deficit: Clinton and Obama #WIunion #P2
morninmist October 13, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Ryan sure was a nervous little twit during the debate!
morninmist October 13, 2012 at 11:53 PM
The Daily Edge ‏@TheDailyEdge #Romney Is a "Greedy," "Lying," "Job-Killing," "Vulture Capitalist," At Least That's What Gingrich, Santorum and Perry Told Us #Sensata
Bren October 14, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Ryan's "Bean" story, same as Kurt Cobain's? Read why Kurt's daughter Frances' middle name is "Bean," in bio halfway down the link: http://www.askmen.com/celebs/women/singer/frances-bean-cobain/#ixzz296J7LOdr Hasn't Paul Ryan said he was a Nirvana fan...
Bren October 14, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Mr. Hoffa, "here's the problem." When you have no ground to stand on you start making things up. Although you are the undisputed king of posting volume-wise, your posts are often content/link light and generally high on insults. That's why some folks here don't always take you seriously. 싸움!
Bren October 14, 2012 at 02:18 AM
I agree, something more purposeful could have been asked.
Bren October 14, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Mitt Romney smirked during the entire first presidential debate, and repeatedly ignored and talked over the moderator. If you're going to dish it out, you have to be able to take it, too...
Bren October 14, 2012 at 02:28 AM
It's been income of $250k+ since the beginning. I think a lot of people get confused, thinking that the $250k floor includes the value of the business. My understanding is that it represents personal income of that amount or more. There's a substantial difference.
Bren October 14, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Whereas if you vote Republican you approve of raising seniors' prescription costs, gutting programs for the poor, elderly, and helpless, and handing more treasure to the folks who need it least. Enjoy!
James R Hoffa October 14, 2012 at 02:54 AM
@Bren - Laughable! What you call 'links' are often references to someone else's opinion - Hoffa could give a crap less what someone else thinks, like the Tax Policy Center, as Hoffa is capable of analyzing and thinking for himself, as Hoffa has demonstrated on countless occasions! Meanwhile, Bren appears to be content with allowing others to analyze, think, and dictate their conclusions to her, which she usually adopts as her own. It's pathetic and grossly hypocritical! Again, if you want to prove yourself right, Hoffa is giving you yet another chance - just provide the primary source links proving what you've previously asserted as 'facts' on these boards. 1) Please show where in Ryan's budget/Path that big oil receives $50B in tax breaks / subsidies. 2) Please provide a primary source showing that Scott Walker gave special tax breaks to the Koch Bros' GP plants and Diane Hendricksen. The FACT is that you can't do it because they just don't exist in REALITY. And the FACT that you previously asserted that these things were all true shows just how crummy and worthless your so-called 'research' really is!
James R Hoffa October 14, 2012 at 02:59 AM
@low life POS scum bag Schmitzy - Biden actually told more lies than Ryan, and unlike you, Hoffa doesn't need someone to tell him who it was that was lying and what those lies were! Again, should you really be commenting accusing someone else of lying? Hoffa has yet to receive the fifty ($50) that you rightfully owe him! Pay up or Detroit will be called!
James R Hoffa October 14, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Agreed!
James R Hoffa October 14, 2012 at 03:02 AM
@Bren - No response, eh? Instead of addressing Hoffa's factual, accurate, and logical assessment, you instead bring up Kurt Cobain?!?! Way to deflect away from the tough issues. I suppose that if you were ever pregnant, that you'd treat the fetus as an inanimate object, right?
James R Hoffa October 14, 2012 at 03:04 AM
@low life POS scum bag Schmitzy - Are you ever going to pay Hoffa the fifty ($50) that you owe him??? Are you familiar with concrete?
James R Hoffa October 14, 2012 at 03:08 AM
@Bren - Comparing apples to oranges, aren't you? Again, Romney was forced to fight for his time - as it was Lehrer gave Obama an additional 5 minutes of talking time over Romney. I suppose that you prefer that the debates be nothing more than a giant Obama/Biden infomercial though, as we can all see what happens when Obama/Biden have to confront the truth a real plan - a giant shift in the polls!
James R Hoffa October 14, 2012 at 03:16 AM
@Bren - Biden said: "The middle class will pay less, and people making a million dollars or more will begin to contribute slightly more." "... billion dollars of that goes to people making a minimum of a million dollars." "We don't — we can't afford $800 billion going to people making a minimum a million dollars. They do not need it, Martha." Biden told the American people that only people making a million ($1M) or more per year would see their taxes go up under the Obama/Biden tax plan. That was a LIE! http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/domestic-taxes/261773-carney-biden-not-signaling-tax-policy-change-in-debate http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-11/news/sns-rt-us-usa-campaign-taxesbre89a1b4-20121011_1_tax-cuts-taxes-on-million-dollar-earners-tax-rates http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/12/biden-rewrites-presidents-tax-increase-plans/ Either Biden LIED and grossly misrepresented his boss' real tax plan, or he's severely incompetent! You can't spin the truth Bren!
James R Hoffa October 14, 2012 at 03:20 AM
@morninmist - This isn't a story that any real journalist would be interested in. Ryan voted against the stimulus - he's never denied it. The stimulus passed anyway, despite this objection. As a representative of his congressional district, Ryan has a duty to his constituents to advocate for receipt of federal funds when they're being handed out. There's no hypocrisy here. Just bad policy and more debt from the Dems!
James R Hoffa October 14, 2012 at 03:22 AM
@Bren - None of what you espouse is supported by assertions contained within Romney's/Ryan's plan. You're making stuff up again that is not supported by primary sources!

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