And The Winner Is…

Rick Wilking/Pool/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )


  • THE 'THRILL IN THE 'VILLE' ENDS IN A DRAW: That was the conclusion of many political observers who watched last night's debate. Although some on both sides gave the edge to either Vice President Joe Biden or Congressman Paul Ryan, the one and only debate stage meeting between the two running mates, which was deftly moderated by ABC's Martha Raddatz and took place at Centre College in Danville, Ky., largely kept the presidential race in a holding pattern until next week's second presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y. As for last night, even some fierce partisans - like Romney surrogate Sen. Rand Paul - acknowledged that, "I didn't think there was a clear knockout victory for either side." But we won't have long to wait for another round. The next debate, the second between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney, is just four days away.
  • THE MOMENT THAT ROCKED TWITTER: A reference to John F. Kennedy emerged as one of the highlights of last night's contest, ABC's Anthony Castellano notes. Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan disagreed Thursday night on some numbers crunching. Ryan was in the process of defending his plan to cut taxes and mentioned Kennedy as an example of someone who had made cuts in tax rates work. "Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth," Ryan said at the Danville, Ky. debate. "Oh, now you are Jack Kennedy?" Biden asked sarcastically. Twitter responded with 58,275 tweets per minute after Biden's Kennedy reference, which was a high point for the debate. In the 1988 vice presidential debate, the Democratic nominee, Lloyd Bentsen, famously told Dan Quayle he was "no Jack Kennedy." "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy," Bentsen said.
  • THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': Sunday on "This Week," top Obama and Romney campaign officials discuss the vice presidential debate and the latest in the 2012 election. Plus, a special "This Week" panel, in partnership with the University of Virginia's Miller Center, tackles the question "Do Presidential Debates Change Elections?" ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper moderates the discussion, with senior foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, moderator of this week's vice presidential debate; presidential historian Richard Norton Smith; ABC News' George Will; Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; former House speaker and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich; and former Senator and 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd. Tune in Sunday:
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 25 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings:


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Partisan Democrats had a lot to be happy about last night's vice presidential debate, ABC News Political Director Amy Walter notes.

Vice President Joe Biden turned in an aggressive and energetic performance that they wished they'd seen from President Obama at his first of three outings against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Colorado.

Republicans cried foul on Biden's behavior (GOP surrogates called him "rude," among other things.)

In the spin room after the debate Sen. Rand Paul, referred to the vice president as "an arrogant Chesire Cat."

"That sort of big grin," Paul said, "that he thought he knew more than anybody else."

GOP New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte called Biden out for "the smirking and the smiling." By contrast, Ayotte said, "Congressman Ryan looked vice presidential."

Meanwhile, Republicans argue that Rep. Paul Ryan's calm, unflustered demeanor and his solid performance on foreign affairs was appealing to swing voters, especially women.

Could they both be right? Sure. Democrats could get a spring back in their step, while swing voters also remain interested in hearing more from Romney-Ryan ticket.

Which, of course, makes the presidential debate next Tuesday all that more important.


The Note's virtual roundtable:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: Who was the challenger last night again? The energy and the passion was on the other side last night - and, Joe being Joe, there may have been a little bit too much of both. Vice President Joe Biden, with his looks into the camera, with his broad smiles, with his calculated laughter and stream of interruptions while his opponent was speaking, made the case the man at the top of his ticket did not last week. Paul Ryan was in command, direct, and energized himself - though surprised by the Biden game plan. Ties go to the challenger, and it was Biden doing the challenging last night.

RYAN AND BIDEN'S MISSIONS GOING IN. ABC's Jake Tapper summed it up in his report for "World News": The pressure is on the vice president not to cede any of the energy or desire to his opponent, as President Obama seemed to do last week. … Ryan's challenge: to be seen as credible and keep Romney's momentum going. WATCH Tapper's debate preview:


WHO WON? GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS' TAKE. ABC's George Stephanopoulos writes: Biden did what he had to do most - rally Democrats after the President's listless performance last week and Ryan avoided any rookie mistakes in his first turn on the national stage. And my guess is that will freeze the race until the next Presidential showdown next Tuesday.

BIDEN VS. RYAN: A TALE OF TWO CATHOLICS. For the first time in history, both VP nominees are Catholic. ABC's David Muir reports for "World News" on their similarities: Their political paths both began when they were young, Joe Biden 29 when elected to the Senate, Paul Ryan 28 when he went to Congress-both Catholic, both celebrate their roots in blue-collar America. WATCH Muir's report:

VIDEO: VP DEBATE'S BEST MOMENTS. Highlights from the first and only debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. WATCH:

GMA VIDEO: DEBATE MODERATOR'S CLOSE-UP VIEW. ABC's Martha Raddatz on what it was like to moderate the VP debate: "I was a little surprised that I got in as many follow-ups … when you're there, and you're in the moment, you really have to go with what's happening. … That table is very intimate, so it's very different than the presidential debate last week … That close to one another, and they're sort of going at each other, and the laughter and some of the jabs at one another, it felt way more personal just because of that intimate setting." WATCH:

GMA VIDEO: DOES THE DEBATE SHIFT MOMENTUM? Donna Brazille and Nicolle Wallace hash out the significance of the debate on "Good Morning America." Brazille: "Joe Biden came prepared. He came prepared to argue, he came prepared to debate, and he also came prepared to be Joe Biden." Wallace: "Democrats feel that because he restored what Obama lost last week, got them back some equilibrium, that it was a success, but that doesn't represent any threat to the momentum that Romney was able to create with last week's debate performance."


with ABC's Shushannah Walshe, Arlette Saenz and Michael Falcone

BATTLE OF THE SPINNERS: ROMNEY BRINGS THE BIGGER ARMY. ABC's Michael Falcone reports that after President Obama's campaign found itself undermanned with surrogates in last week's post-debate "Spin Room," once again the Romney campaign brought a giant troupe of 18 surrogates an 14 advisers and RNC staff to the VP debate.

Paul Ryan aide, Dan Senor:

"I thought that Congressman Ryan looked like a vice president, he was serious, he respected the viewers, he was prepared to have a serious adult discussion…he was energetic and brimming with ideas and energy. As for Vice President Biden's demeanor I'll let you be the judge of that whether that was appropriate."

Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md.:

"I think that Paul Ryan behaved in a way that showed that he is not up for being vice president of the United States," O'Malley, the Maryland governor and Obama surrogate said. The governor said that Biden comported himself well and that there were "a lot of living rooms out there that were saying, 'Go get 'em, Joe.'" O'Malley, on the other hand, called Ryan a "very immature young man who's not ready for this job."

Paul Ryan communications director, Kevin Sheridan:

"Well I think if you take anything away from the debate on a positive side for the Democrats I think the one thing they may have gotten away with is firing up their base, with 25 days left to go in the election 25 days is way too late to be firing up your base and if that's what they were going for with wild gesticulations and cackles and strange performance by any measure…it was an odd performance at best for Vice President Biden."


with Chris Good ( @c_good)

FACT CHECK! How many times has Obama met with Netanyahu? Not quite a dozen. Does Obamacare pay for abortions? It's complicated. Would an Obamacare board deny care to seniors? Well…it's not supposed to. ABC's fact-check team sorts through the spin:

MEME WATCH: 'LAUGHIN' JOE' STEALS THE SHOW. From ABC's Abby Phillip: Vice President Joe Biden's chuckles, sighs and interruptions during the first and only vice presidential debate with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., took off on the Internet during the debate. Within minutes, a new @LaughinJoeBiden and Twitter handle emerged and added hundreds of followers every minute. By the end of the debate, more than 7,000 users followed the parody account which tweeted out photos and animated gifs of Biden's laugh, punctuated by "lol."

ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: WHAT THE VP CANDIDATES NEEDED TO DO. What did Joe Biden and Paul Ryan need to accomplish Thursday night? That was the question ABC's George Stephanopoulos answered before last night's debate in the latest installment of "George's Bottom Line." VP debates usually don't make a big difference, but with so much on the line in a close presidential race, Thursday night's could be the exception. WATCH:


BEAU BIDEN: MY DAD WAS RESPECTFUL, IN COMMAND. The vice president's son responded to criticism of his father's debate performance, Politico's Katie Glueck reports: "[My] dad was up there, he was respectful, he was in command of the stage," Beau Biden, Delaware's attorney general, said Friday on CNN's "Starting Point." "Any time you're being attacked for style points, you know you've landed punch after punch after punch after punch. I think that's why, in the spin room last night, the only thing Republicans were talking about was my dad smiling too much. I'll take that criticism any day."

MORE ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: CANDIDATES GO HOLLYWOOD. In the latest installment of "Politically Foul," ABC's Amy Walter flags President Obama for admitting his debate stumbles at a swanky L.A. fundraiswer and Mitt Romney for co-opting the pre-game chant from the TV show "Friday Night Lights." WATCH:

VIDEO: MCCONNELL CALLS LIBYA EXPLANATION 'DISTURBING.' ABC's Abby Phillip reports: "We're finally getting the right story from the professionals down at the State Department who have been saying from the very beginning that it was a terrorist attack," said McConnell, R-Mo., on the ABC News/Yahoo News pre-vice presidential debate live stream show. "I don't know where this notion that this thing was video inspired came from in the first place." WATCH McConnell's remarks:

RYAN'S HOUSE OPPONENT TRAVELS TO KENTUCKY, ASKS FOR DEBATE. Rob Zerban, who is challenging Rep. Ryan, R-Wis., for his House seat, traveled to Danville, Ky., for Ryan's debate there against Vice President Joe Biden to tell anyone who would listen that he wants a debate against Ryan for himself. "He's running around the county carrying water for Mitt Romney, and he'll only fly to the district for $1,000-a-plate dinners," Zerban told ABC News. "And if he can find time to do that, he should come back to the district and find time to debate."

OBAMA: ROMNEY 'SEVERELY KIDDING' ABOUT HIS 'SEVERELY CONSERVATIVE' POSITIONS. Mitt Romney told the crowd at CPAC 2012 in February that he was a "severely conservative Republican governor," and now ABC's Mary Bruce reports that President Obama is mocking him for it: "After a year in which he has been calling himself 'severely conservative,' he's now trying to convince us that he was severely kidding about everything," the president told some 700 supporters who'd paid $500 and up to see the president at the JW Marriott Marquis. His remarks echoed ones he'd made earlier today at the University of Miami … In the week since Obama's lackluster debate performance, his campaign has retooled its messaging to paint Romney as a flip-flopper, eager to change his positions to sway voters.

VIDEO: THURSDAY'S OTHER DEBATE BRAWL. A debate last night between two Democratic House members (Howard Berman and Brad Sherman) running for the same seat in California got physical, ABC's Jonathan Karl and John Parkinson note. In a heated exchange between the two congressmen, a woman in the audience tried to calm Sherman down as he put an arm around Berman, pulled him in close and said, "Do you want to get into this?" A sheriff stepped in to nudge the two men apart.

ROMNEY: OBAMA ISN'T TAKING LIBYA ATTACKS SERIOUSLY. ABC's Emily Friedman reports from Asheville, N.C.: itt Romney offered his harshest attack to date on the Obama administration's handling of last month's terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans, accusing the president of failing to "grasp the seriousness" of the incident. … "His campaign said this today about the Benghazi terrorist attack," Romney began at a rally in Asheville, N.C., this evening. "They said and I quote, 'The entire reason this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.'" "No, President Obama, it's an issue because this is the first time in 33 years that a United States ambassador has been assassinated," said Romney. "Mr. President, this is an issue because we were attacked successfully by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11," said Romney. "President Obama, this is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you to admit that this was a terrorist attack."

DEBATE THE DEBATE DINNERS: SALMON VS. SPAGHETTI. ABC's Russell Goldman reports: Before heading into the arena at Centre College in Danville, Ky., Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, known for his conscientious diet and exercise regime, planned to eat a light dinner of salmon and rice, according to aids. He had a tuna salad sandwich for lunch today, and spent the rest of his day studying up, relaxing with his family and working out. Vice President Joe Biden also kept things light, planning a pre-debate meal of grilled chicken, with spaghetti and salad. … During preparations, Biden's team snacked on M&Ms and animal crackers.

GRAHAM OFFERS PRAYERS, HELP TO ROMNEY. ABC's Emily Friedman reports from Asheville, N.C. on Mitt Romney's meeting with evangelist Billy Graham at Graham's home: Near the end of thirty minute meeting, Graham led a prayer for the Romneys and said, "I'll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that," according to a Romney aide who sat in on the private meeting. Graham is 93 years old and is in frail health-he was hospitalized over the summer after he came down with bronchitis. He has had prostate cancer and been diagnosed with Parkinson disease. But today Graham appeared upbeat during the meeting with Romney and Graham's son, Rev. Franklin Graham.

CAN SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY PREDICT POLITICAL LEANINGS? From ABC's Bill Weir: Is your office neat or messy? Would you choose a documentary or a sci-fi flick down at the cineplex, or opt for something in the action or horror genre? And if you were picking out a pet dog, would you prefer a gentle breed with a mind of its own? Or would you want one that was loyal, obedient and easy to train? Based on how you answer, social psychologist and New York University professor Jonathan Haidt thinks he has a pretty good idea how you would vote. "The big difference between liberals and conservatives is a trait called 'openness to experience,'" he explained while quizzing passers-by in Times Square. "Some people on the left tend to like variety, difference, something that's different. People on the right tend to like things that are more predictable and orderly, more conventional."

BIDEN CONTRADICTS WEDNESDAY'S BENGHAZI TESTIMONY. BuzzFeed's Rebecca Berg reports: ";But we weren't told they wanted more security there,' Biden responded [to a question from ABC's Martha Raddatz]. 'We did not know they wanted more security there.' That assertion runs counter to evidence and testimonies that were presented at a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday, where the committee released five memos requesting additional security, and witnesses from the State Department confirmed that those requests had been denied."

VIDEO: CAMPAIGN-TRAIL BEAUTY TIPS. First Ladies and candidates' wives don't get much time in front of the mirror. In the latest installment of "Politically Dressed," ABC's Shushannah Walshe gets some trail tips from beauty expert Marla Malcolm Beck on how to stay fresh-faced and trendy while campaigning. WATCH:

STRICKLAND ON OBAMA'S CHANCES: 'I'M A HAPPY GUY.' ABC's Abby Phillip reports on our debate-night livesream: Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said he's confident about President Obama's chances in the Buckeye State, despite polls that show a slight tightening in the race after Obama's lackluster performance in the first presidential debate. "The latest poll that I see has the president at 51 to 45 or 56 percent, and I'll take that," Strickland said during an ABC News/Yahoo News livestream show on Thursday. "Ohio's a closely contested state. It will be a very close election, but any time the president is over 50 percent, I'm a happy guy."

BEFORE DEBATE, RYAN'S MOCK MODERATOR PRAISES REAL MODERATOR. ABC's Abby Phillip reports: Kerry Healey, a former Mass. lieutenant governor and Paul Ryan's mock debate moderator, had praise for the debate's real moderator, ABC's Martha Raddatz, who she said would help shine the spotlight on foreign policy at tonight's debate. "The thing that I find interesting about Martha Raddatz is her deep experience with foreign policy," Healey said during the ABC News/Yahoo News Debate livestream show. "Were in a situation now… where the foreign policy of the Obama administration seems to be unraveling."

BOEHNER TO CAMPAIGN IN N.C. Roll Call's Daniel Newhauser reports: "Speaker John Boehner touched down in North Carolina [Thursday] for a weekend of rallies and fundraisers aimed at turning the battleground state solidly red. … Republicans are likely to pick up three seats in the state - those of retiring Reps. Heath Shuler (D) and Brad Miller (D) and Rep. Larry Kissell (D) - and they may steal another from Rep. Mike McIntyre (D), who is locked in a tossup race."

LINDSAY LOHAN FOR MITT ROMNEY. So reports Fox News' Hollie McKay: "Four years ago, Lindsay Lohan referred to Obama's Presidential victory as 'amazing,' but cut to 2012, and it seems the "Mean Girls" star has had a serious change of heart. 'I think unemployment is very important for now, so as of now I think (my vote) is Mitt Romney,' Lohan told reporters, including FOX411's Pop Tarts, at the Mr. Pink Ginseng Drink Launch Party Los Angeles on Thursday night."


-OBAMA CAMPAIGN'S RYAN CLIPS. The Obama campaign cuts highlights of Paul Ryan and splices them with criticism. From the campaign: "Obama for America highlights key moments from last night's debate when Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan reminded the American people why the Romney-Ryan plan would be so dangerous for the middle class. Last night, Paul Ryan doubled down on widely and repeatedly debunked attacks. He hid the truth of his and Mitt Romney's plans that would devastate the middle class."

-ROMNEY CAMP: BIDEN'S BENGHAZI BLUNDER. Citing Biden's claim that the White House didn't know of any requests for more security at the Benghazi compound, the Romney campaign sends out this statement from foreign-policy adviser Dan Senor: "Vice President Biden continued the Administration's pattern of misleading the American people about events in Libya. He wrongly stated that the Administration was not aware of requests for more security from our diplomatic facilities in Libya. But we now know from the sworn testimony of two U.S. security officials who were stationed in Libya that there were repeated requests for more security in the face of rising threats. We need leaders who will be truthful with the American people and who are informed about vital issues of national security. Joe Biden's comments point to the larger failures of the Administration to be completely transparent about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi and the security situations leading up to the attacks."

-STUDY EXAMINES CONSEQUENCES OF EPA REGULATIONS: The American Energy Alliance, the political off-shoot of the conservative Institute for Energy Research, commissioned a study by the Center for Political Economy at Troy University to research a cost vs. benefit analysis of recent EPA regulations. Among the conclusions, passed along to The Note by a source close to the group, which has run ads attacking President Obama this election year: "Some costs associated with various EPA regulations have been, 'ignored in recent EPA cost-benefit analysis.'; 'The substantial co-benefits of recent EPA regulations are highly dubious.'; While EPA touts the benefits of its regulations, '…negative side effects of co-costs have been downplayed or ignored.'; EPA's patterns of justifying its regulations on industry are moving into, 'uncharted waters.'"


@DavidMDrucker : Post #VPdebate analysis: Benghazzi consulate terrorist attack issue might have pierced public consciousness for first time.Cld B significant

@Reince : " @Timodc: 1: number of times Biden said Obama by name. So The president has now been a no-show at the first two debates"

@HotlineJosh : Wow, @lisalerer featured in new Carmona ad attacking Jeff Flake! Full on photo …

@JenniferJJacobs : Iowa reax: Biden hot, Ryan calm. Biden smirking might be turn off in Iowa, where polling says he's more of liability.

@thegarance : "The Many Gesticulations Of Joe Biden"


with ABC's Joanna Suarez

- President Barack Obama is in Washington, DC with no public events.

-Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will hold an evening rally in Lancaster, Ohio

-Vice President Joe Biden holds a campaign rally at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse, Wisc.

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