Recap: The Vice-Presidential Debate, in GIFs

Did you miss the vice-presidential debate? You can read the most important words -- and even better, watch the most important facial expressions right here, because The Atlantic Wire simultaneously liveblogged and live-GIF'd the fight between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Did you miss the vice-presidential debate? You can read the most important words -- and even better, watch the most important facial expressions right here, because The Atlantic Wire simultaneously liveblogged and live-GIF'd the fight between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. Unlike the slightly dull presidential debate, both men gave us more GIF-y faces than we could have ever hoped for. Here are the best moments.


11:30p.m.: Highlights: We asked for funny faces, and these men delivered. Biden has an enormous smile. Ryan has very expressive eyebrows. Whether it was on taxes or Medicare or Israel, when Ryan talked, Biden's face was in a constant state of, "Who is this guy?" Ryan zinged Biden on his gaffes. He explained the fighting season in Afghanistan, and Biden got annoyed. Ryan's kid seemed to think he'd won the debate. And finally, this was probably the funnest moment, when Biden threw up his hands over the unemployment rate:

Here's a transcript of the debate.

11:05p.m.: A few more moments of note. In their closing statements, Ryan finally looked straight into the camera and worked his sympathetic eyebrows for all they're worth. "15 percent of Americans are in poverty," he said.

"You deserve better," he said.

"Mitt Romney — his experience, his ideas, his solutions — is uniquely qualified to get this job done. At a time when we have a jobs crisis in America, wouldn’t it be nice to have a job-creator in the White House?" Ryan said. "The choice is clear, and the choice rests with you."

In Biden's closing statement, he testily noted that Ryan got 40 seconds, and he'd only get 15. It was a very specific number, which shows Biden's debate experience.

Biden, perhaps anticipating criticisms of his face's performance tonight, said, "you probably detected my frustration with their attitude about the American people."

He gets quieter and more serious: "All they’re looking for, Martha, all they’re looking for is an even shot. Whenever you give them the shot, they’ve done it. They’ve done it...."

"And the president and I are not going to rest until that playing field is leveled, they, in fact, have a clear shot, and they have peace of mind, until they can turn to their kid and say with a degree of confidence, 'Honey, it’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK.'"

10:50p.m.: During the debate over Afghanistan, Biden didn't look like an uncle shaking his head at a silly nephew. He looked mad. Here's Ryan nodding his head after Biden said the military favored the Afghan pullout timeline, and Raddatz cut in, "The military follows orders. I mean, there — trust me. There are people who were concerned about pulling out on the fighting season."

Then Ryan explained the fighting season. He dropped the names of military figures and several hot spots in Afghanistan, and his debate prep showed. But then he tried to explain the Afghan fighting season in plain language:

Here’s the way it works. The mountain passes fill in with snow. The Taliban and the terrorists and the Haqqani and the Quetta Shura come over from Pakistan to fight our men and women. When it fills in with snow, they can’t do it. That’s what we call fighting seasons. In the warm months, fighting gets really high. In the winter, it goes down.

Ryan said we'll have the same mission, but 20,000 fewer troops. Biden didn't like it, saying,

Because we turned it over... we turned it over to the Afghan troops we trained. No one got pulled out that didn’t get filled in by trained Afghan personnel. And he’s — he’s conflating two issues. The fighting season that Petraeus was talking about and former — and Admiral Mullen was the fighting season this spring. That’s what he was talking about. We did not — we did not pull them out.

"The calendar works the same every year," Ryan responded.

The Wall Street Journal's Julian Barnes tweeted, "Biden made clearest statement yet that there won't be a residual force in Afghanistan after 2014. Many in military want CT trainers to stay."

10:43p.m.: In this Associated Press photo, you can see Biden's notes. No.1? "No Apology." Some lines are hard to read, but one says "EFFECTIVE."

10:38p.m.: Who felt like he won the debate? This kid, obviously, who took over Biden's chair when all the families came on stage after the debate ended.

He seems to be Ryan's son, and got both a high five and a fist bump.

10:30p.m.: The debate ends. This one was so much more interesting than the presidential one. Raddatz was awesome.

10:15p.m.: The sense Biden is trying to project, especially by looking straight into this camera, is, Can you believe this guy?

When Ryan says we need fundamental tax reform, and that wealthy people will pay their fare share:

What really gets Biden is mentioning Reagan. Ryan says:

Look — look at what Mitt Romney — look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that.

What we're saying is, here's our framework. Lower tax rates 20 percent. We raised about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forego about $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions. And so what we're saying is, deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of we can lower tax rates across the board. Now, here's why I'm saying this. What we're saying is, here's the framework...

Biden says:

First of all, I was there when Ronald Reagan tax breaks — he gave specifics of what he was going to cut, number one, in terms of tax expenditures. Number two, 97 percent of the small businesses in America pay less — make less than $250,000. Let me tell you who some of those other small businesses are: hedge funds that make $600 million, $800 million a year. That's — that's what they count as small businesses, because they're pass- through.

Let's look at how sincere they are. Ronald — I mean, excuse me, Governor Romney on "60 Minutes" — I guess it was about 10 days ago — was asked, "Governor, you pay 14 percent on $20 million. Someone making $50,000 pays more than that. Do you think that's fair?" He said, "Oh, yes, that's fair. That's fair."

This is — and they're going to talk — you think these guys are going to go out there and cut those loopholes? The loophole — the biggest loophole they take advantage of is the carried interest loophole and — and capital gains loophole. They exempt that.

10:07p.m.: BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski tweets one of the best images of the night.

9:55p.m.: Biden is unmistakably going for the old folks vote. He speaks into the camera when talking about Medicare, asking, Who are you gonna believe -- the AMA, or him, a guy who's been fighting for this stuff for years and years? He calls Ryan "my friend." He corrects Ryan like he's a silly youth. When Ryan talks about Ronald Reagan as some kind of distant figure, Biden says he was in the room with Reagan.

9:48p.m.: There are no limits to the heights Ryan's eyebrows can soar. On green energy subsidies:

On who would cut Medicare more:

Reassuring America that the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare won't affect anyone over 55.

More on Medicare:

9:44p.m.: The highlight of the debate is Biden's face. Ryan's eyebrows a distant second.

9:37p.m.: Ryan shows how the recovery has been slow by referring to the unemployment rate in Scranton, Biden's home town. "Do you know what the unemployment rate is there?" he asks.

"Yeah." Biden says.

"It's 10 percent."

"I know."

"You know what was when he took office?"


"It was 8.5 percent." And that's what's happening everywhere, Ryan says.

Biden does not agree. "It's going down!" Cue exaggerated exasperation.

9:33p.m.: Ryan gets in a zinger in response to Biden's reference to the "47 percent." Ryan says, "Sometimes, as the vice president well knows, the words don’t always come out of your mouth the right way."

"But I always say what I mean," Biden says.

9:24p.m.: Raddatz is getting rave reviews for leading a substantive debate on foreign policy. We've spent 20 minutes on Libya, Iran, and Israel. But Biden has managed to get his campaign zings in. "These sanctions that Bibi Netanyahu says we should continue? That Romney agrees with -- He changes his mind so often I could be wrong," Biden said.

A few minutes later, he drops the "47 percent" line, saying troops overseas were taking personal responsibility while Romney paid a lower effective tax rate.

9:19p.m.: On whether Obama has neglected Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu:

Biden: "It's a bunch of stuff."

Raddatz: "What is 'stuff'?"

Ryan: "It's Irish."

Biden: "We say 'malarkey.'"

9:05p.m.: The debate begins. Ryan's split-screen strategy is closed-mouth smile and note-taking.

Biden takes some notes, and does a lot of big smiling. (This is when Ryan says the Obama administration agreed with the Romney campaign about the statement the Cairo embassy put out about an anti-Islam video during protests on September 11.

8:56p.m.: The vice-presidential ladies -- Janna Ryan:

Jill Biden:

(Photos via Associated Press.)

8:54p.m.: Moderator Martha Raddatz asks for cellphones to be silenced, and offers her own horror story: Once her phone went off in a White House briefing, and it played "Ridin' Dirty."

8:46p.m.: Reporters/Twitter scolds are using Twitter to urge reporters not to use Twitter during the debate, to escape the "hive mind." Because obviously the "hive mind" did not exist before Twitter.

While these reporters ponder voluntary Twitter censorship, the poor souls in the debate hall are experiencing real censorship. No tweets allowed from the hall, ABC News reports.

8:33p.m.: Looking for a debate photo, I searched the Associated Press archive for "debate" and since it was sorted by relevance instead of date, this beauty from 1988 popped up:

These cool guys are Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, and Michael Dukakis in Madison Square Garden before the debate started.

8:31p.m.: Debate prep: Biden both carbo-loaded and ate protein for endurance. According to poll reports, Biden'ss dinner was grilled chicken and spaghetti with marinara sauce, plus salad.

8:25p.m.: Here's what a debate ticket looks like, from the Associated Press' Phil Elliot.

8:10p.m.: The Washington Examiner has a nifty site breaking down all the political ad spending on TV shows. Shows with more Democratic ads include How I Met Your MotherLet's Make a Deal, and 666 Park Avenue. More Republican shows include Cops, Wheel of Fortune, and King of Queens. Obama ran almost triple the number of ads Romney did on ground zero for maker-taker conflict, Undercover Bosses.

Original Post:

Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan will sit down for the first and only vice-presidential debate tonight. Sure, there's lots of serious important policy to talk about—Biden will have to defend Obamacare, financial regulatory reform, and Middle East policy, while Ryan will have to defend his budget and his plan to turn Medicare into a voluntary voucher program. But let's get real, kids. The fun thing to watch for will be their faces. Both Ryan and Biden have extremely expressive faces, which is a problem, because an important part of both campaigns' strategy has been to avoid revealing too much emotion—in other words, don't inspire GIFs. Why is this so mission critical? As Romney's former debate coach Brett O'Donnell told The Atlantic's Timothy Bella, "research shows that the audience reports that they get 65 percent of meaning of what is said of how it is said. This means how candidates say things matters."

Look at Biden's comically big smile, as seen above right during the Democratic National Convention. And Ryan? Ryan's physical presence has inspired a million fawning Tumblr fans, like those who freaked out over the beefcake photos released Thursday. Plus he gets pretty animated when debating sometimes, as in this 2010 CNN appearance with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as seen at left. (He's saying he's trying to get discussion of entitlements at an "adult level," but, nodding to Wasserman Schultz, "clearly that's not happening.")

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.