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Ciolli: Martha Raddatz asks tough questions, gets emotional answers

Moderator Martha Raddatz watches as Vice President Joe

Moderator Martha Raddatz watches as Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin participate in the vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (Oct. 11, 2012) Credit: AP

Martha Raddatz made tonight's debate a three way.

With her assertive and sharp questions, she kept the first and only vice-presidential debate fast paced and on track.

In her pointed challenges to Joe Biden on the withdrawal of troops during the surge, she finally wiped the strange smile off the vice president's face, prompting him to lean forward in his reply to her and say "Be a little straight with me."

She pushed Biden more on the administration's record than Ryan was able to do. And she had the last word with him as she turned and said, "Let's move on to another war."

At one point, Frank Rich tweeted, this is a debate between "Raddatz and Dan Senor" the foreign policy advisor to the Romney-Ryan campaign. By 10:08, Bloomberg View tweeted this is the "Biden-Raddatz debate."

When it came to Ryan, Raddatz became one of the very first moderators to ding a candidate for dodging the questions. Relentless on how his tax cut plan could work, she chided Ryan for "no specifics" on his tax reform plan.

It was on the abortion question that Raddatz's many years of asking tough questions in a way to draw emotional answers came through. She managed to prevent Biden and Ryan from giving the answers they memorized in debate prep. She chose the framework of religion and asked them to respond on a divisive social issue. She followed up and she kept it focused.

As both camps spin their claims to winning, the audience knows already it was Raddatz.

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