DANVILLE, Ky. - Vice President Biden's bombastic debate performance against Republican Paul Ryan has revved up a once-anxious Democratic Party and will allow President Obama to use his second debate appearance Tuesday to recapture critical momentum heading into the campaign's final weeks, Democrats and campaign officials said.
"I can't wait," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., gushed to The Washington Examiner after watching Biden debate Ryan last week. "Joe Biden gave all of us in politics a lesson in what to do at a debate. Be about passion and conviction and the facts and don't let your opponent dance away from you. Biden did it effectively."
Obama will face Republican Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate Tuesday at Hofstra University in New York, and the president needs to deliver a commanding performance if he's to fully revive disspirited Democrats who started to lose faith after Romney soundly trounced Obama in their first meeting Oct. 3.
Romney performed so well in their first exchange that he immediately surged in the polls in battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia, erasing Obama's lead with voters who will be pivotal in deciding who next occupies the White House.
Republicans and a number of independent analysts panned Biden's performance, calling him rude for laughing and being disruptive.
"He undercut himself a bit by interrupting Ryan so many times and laughing," said Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire. "For the viewers, it became distracting and made Biden seem less likable."
But Democrats reveled in the vice president's antics, seeing in Biden the bold directness that was so lacking in Obama's laconic delivery a week earlier.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Biden "demonstrated his passion and his wisdom and the joy that he brings to the job of serving the American people" and made "a remarkably strong case for the policies that this president has put in place and the policies that he believes are the right ones to move the country forward." Obama watched Biden's debate while flying home from Florida aboard Air Force One, Carney said, and intends to match that energy when he next faces Romney.
"We cannot afford to raise taxes on the middle class in order to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. We can't afford our seniors -- and future seniors cannot afford to have their health security undermined by a system that would turn Medicare ... into a voucher system that puts seniors at the mercy of insurance companies," Carney said. "This president will not do that. And I'm confident that he will make that case when he has the opportunity to go before the American again in a debate."