10/12/2012 06:02 pm ET Updated Dec 12, 2012

How Biden's Debate Performance Can Swing the Election

Conventional wisdom tells us that vice presidential debates don't do anything to swing elections. Don't tell that to the estimated 43 million people that watched the debate.

And let's be honest, there is nothing conventional about this race.

On the face of it, Romney should be walking away with the election. Any challenger would love to be running in the face of the economic adversity, conspiracy theories and more that have challenged this administration.

But they're not.

And now, after Joe Biden drew some of the sharpest contrasts of the campaign on both substance and style, 43 million people were given a clear choice.

Abortion, taxes, foreign policy?

Clear contrasts.


Well, Congressman Ryan, for all of his knowledge of the budget and his years in Congress was pretty light on the details.

This isn't to say that the Congressman didn't do his job.

He was there to not make any large mistakes and his remarkably rehearsed and scripted talking points ensured that. After all, he wasn't knocked off message by Biden, he was knocked off by a moderator that simply pressed him to provide some details.

Rehearsing talking points are great, but they aren't enough to show substance.

And here is how Biden's performance can help swing this race.

He drew the contrasts on policy and showed details.

And the fact that most Republicans are calling the debate a draw is in and of itself is proof that they think Biden performed well. Believe me, most surrogates don't run out and call things a tie when they can call it a win for their side.

I've argued before that elections are won and lost on narratives. President Obama needs to continue what moderator Martha Raddatz started: ask them "where's the beef?"

Show us the details.

I'm not talking about platitudes and five point plans that fill up sound bites but provide no policy depth.

Romney and Ryan are trying to make their positions all things to all people. In fact, their advisers know that all they need to do is continue to triangulate their way for just a few more weeks.

But there is an underlying narrative that they can't shake: saying anything to get elected, policies that are devoid of details and positions that change faster than the weather.

Unfortunately, the town hall style format doesn't lend itself as well to this as the vice presidential debate did, but there is still an opportunity.

Make your opponent answer the question.

Make them provide details.

Finish what Vice President Biden and Martha Raddatz started.