Damage Control: Obama Campaign Tries to Spin Biden’s Bizarre Debate Behavior

The Obama campaign is struggling to respond to mounting criticism of Vice President Joe Biden’s bizarre behavior during last night’s debate with Rep. Paul Ryan.

Biden not only interrupted Ryan frequently–82 times, according to Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus–but frequently laughed, smirked, and snorted at serious moments, showing contempt for his opponent and disturbing even friendly observers.

A CNN poll conducted after the debate, which handed Ryan a narrow 48%-44% victory, also showed that Ryan had beaten Biden by an even wider margin when it came to “likeability.” Viewers in the poll–with an admittedly small sample– also said Ryan “expressed his views more clearly,” “was more in touch with the needs and problems of people like you,” and “did a better job of defending his running mate.”

The only category in which Biden defeated Ryan? “Spent more time attacking his opponent.”

Amidst mounting criticism, the Obama campaign has tried to push back. Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, claimed that Biden was “a happy warrior.” Biden may have been trying to compensate for Obama’s perceived passivity in last week’s debate. He may also have been trying to cover gaps in his own argument–he referred to Obama by name only once, and told several characteristic untruths when pressed on the Obama administration’s record. But Biden’s interjections and body language left a lasting impression with voters.

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