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Expert Available: Biden Dominated Debate, Ryan Made No Gaffs, Raddatz Moderated Masterfully, Says MU Expert

October 12th, 2012

Story Contact: Timothy Wall, 573-882-3346, walltj@missouri.edu

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Mitchell McKinney, University of Missouri associate professor of communication in the College of Arts and Science and internationally recognized scholar of presidential debates, analyzed last night’s vice-presidential debate.

“Democrats are finally breathing a sigh of relief tonight thanks to Joe Biden,” said McKinney. “While Paul Ryan did not commit any gaffs or major fumbles during the 90 minute vice presidential debate, Biden was clearly the more aggressive debater and scored more points against Paul Ryan. For the most part, Ryan held his own against Biden, but at times seemed unable to go beyond rehearsed campaign lines and was often short on specifics.”

• How did the difference in experience between the two candidates affect the debate?

“Although the debate started on Biden’s strong suit – foreign policy – it was not on an issue that Obama – Biden would want to begin the debate with – the intelligence failure in Libya,” McKinney said. “Raddatz frequently returned to foreign policy throughout the debate, which over time came to favor Joe Biden over Paul Ryan with Biden’s greater foreign policy expertise.”

• Were there any flaws in Biden’s performance?

“Biden was vigorous in his defense of Barack Obama and administration policies, yet sometimes he would trip over his stats and figures in his zeal to press the point that ‘facts matter’ and his desire to ‘take a look at the facts,’ ” Mckinney said.

• How well was the debate moderated by Martha Raddatz?

“Overall, Raddatz held firm control over the debate, often challenging and even at times correcting the two candidates,” McKinney said.

In 1992, McKinney consulted with the Commission on Presidential Debates, advising the Commission on how debates could be structured in order to better educate citizens on significant campaign issues. The co-author of The 1992 Presidential Debates in Focus, he has co-authored and edited five books and numerous research articles on presidential debates. He also advised the presidential debate commission of South Korea as Seoul officials planned their 2002 televised presidential debates.

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