The Ticket

Team Obama calls debate for Joe, defends smirks and giggles

Liz Goodwin
The Ticket

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Biden flashing one of his frequent debate smiles. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Danville, Ky--A smiling Joe Biden trumped his younger rival in the campaign's only vice presidential debate, Obama's team argued late Thursday night.

"I think Ryan had his lunch handed to him," Senator Dick Durbin told Yahoo News.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina called Biden's occasionally confrontational performance against Ryan a "decisive victory."

"Paul Ryan came across as a cold fish," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley told reporters.

In the post-debate "Spin Room"--where campaign surrogates try to convince reporters that their guy won the debate--top Obama campaign officials brushed off criticism from Ryan's team that Biden's frequent laughing and smiling during Ryan's answers came across as rude.

"I think it was appropriate for him to show passion," Messina said. "When the other side is spending time talking about facial gestures and laughing you know they had a bad night."

Obama senior campaign adviser David Axelrod called the complaints about Biden's laughing a "loser's lament."

"I didn't consider them smirks, I considered them smiles," former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland chipped in. "And sometimes they were smiles that grew out of what Mr. Ryan was saying that was factually inaccurate."

"They deserve to be laughed at," O'Malley said of some of Ryan's answers. O'Malley criticized Mitt Romney and Ryan for not specifying which loopholes they would close in order to cut taxes without raising the deficit.

Even Biden's son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, joined in on defending his father's laughs. "My father was enjoying himself," he said. "He was in command of that stage."

Durbin said he thinks President Obama will follow Biden's lead and become more confrontational when he faces off against Romney in a town hall-style debate next week. "The president was in my opinion too easy on Mitt Romney last week," Durbin said.

Messina brushed aside a question about whether Biden's performance might halt Romney's upward trend in the polls since his strong debate last week. "We continue to lead in the battleground states, which is how you get to 270 electoral votes," Messina told reporters. "That's what I care about."

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