Much of the success of the debate was attributed to moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News, who deftly kept the two men on track through the nine subjects covered in 10-minute segments – permitting enough back-and-forth to keep it a real debate without allowing the disputants to take over, as many observers had noted about the first presidential debate moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS.
In terms of style, both Biden and Ryan seemed to be natural. At times, Ryan – who acknowledges his love of Power Point presentations – bordered on wonkishness. Some post-debate analysts found Biden bordering on condescension to his much younger opponent, chuckling and rolling his eyes at times as Ryan spoke.
"That is a bunch of malarkey," the vice president declared as Ryan criticized the Obama administration’s foreign policies. "Not a single thing he said is accurate," Biden said when Ryan had laid into the administration for what he said was its failure to provide adequate security at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy personnel were killed last month in a terrorist attack.
For his part, Ryan looked squarely at Biden when he said, “I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don't interrupt each other” – the reference to “lost ground” being Obama’s drop in most polls since the presidential debate. Still, Ryan himself did not hesitate to butt in from time to time, although both men were quick to shut up when Ms. Raddatz respectfully but sternly moved them on.