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Bessent: Paul Ryan and Joe Biden kept the focus on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential

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

Paul Ryan and Joe Biden did one really well-advised thing in their vice presidential debate in Kentucky on Thursday: They kept the focus on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the men at the top of the tickets.

The stakes were high for this vice presidential debate. But nobody votes for the No. 2 man on the ticket. They are surrogates for their running mates and neither man forgot that important reality.

Ryan came on strong when toeing Romney’s line on spending, deficits and “the debt crisis.” And he got in a pretty good rhetorical flourish when he accused Obama of going from “hope and change” to “attack, blame and defame.”

But on things that hit ordinary middle class people where they live — Medicare, college student loans, taxes and abortion —  advantage Biden, who did a much better job than Obama making their case.

The candidates fought hard and covered a lot of ground in a quick 90 minutes and then handed off the batons to the presidential candidates for next week at Hofstra University in Hempstead. Mission accomplished.

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