Vice President Biden came to tonight's debate ready to make up for his boss' lackluster performance of a week ago, bringing the fight to Republican Paul Ryan within moments of the debate starting, calling his challenger's statements "a bunch of malarkey" and a "bunch of stuff."
Ryan, 42, also skipped the pleasantries, quickly citing the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya last month, said the Obama administration had denied Stevens sufficient security, and saying it demonstrated the "unraveling of Obama's foreign policy."
"With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey," Biden, 69, shot back, adding, "It's Irish."
"Not a single thing he said is accurate," Biden said. He added that Ryan voted for a bill that would cut embassy security by $300 million.
When talking taxes, Ryan said at one point, "Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan..." But he was cut off by Biden saying, "Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy."
For 90 minutes, the vice president and the man campaigning to replace him, battled, grimaced, smiled and interrupted each other in a feisty verbal duel.
Biden appeared exasperated, laughing at answers he disagreed with, rolling his eyes and calling one Ryan's answers a "bunch of stuff." The vice president showed up at Center College in Kentucky ready to rumble, coming off far more aggressive than President Obama was in his first debate with Mitt Romney last week.
Online, viewers immediately responded to Biden's attitude, on Twitter "#bunchofstuff" quickly began trending as did the mock user @laughinJoeBiden. Republican operatives took to the internet to accuse the vice president of "smirking."
"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," Ryan said at one point.
Biden was clearly on a mission to re-energize the Democratic base after Mitt Romney saw a bounce in the polls following last week's debate.
"Joe Biden won," said Matt Dowd, a Republican strategist and ABC News consultant. "He stopped the bleeding."
But Nicole Wallace, a former Bush administration spokeswoman and ABC consultant, said Biden may have won with liberals but wondered whether his "goofy faces" and being "almost unhinged" may have turned off independent voters.
Biden hammered Romney's decision to let the auto industry go bankrupt rather than support the massive bailout.
"I know Mitt Romney's not a car guy," Biden said, contradicting Ryan's description of Romney just moments earlier. "He said let it [auto industry] go bankrupt."
"But it shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives," said Biden, reminding voters of a Romney gaffe that 47 percent of Americans are looking for government handouts.
Ryan got in a dig at Biden's own history of gaffes, replying, "I think the vice president knows sometimes the words don't always come out the right way."
When Ryan criticized the Obama administration's massive stimulus program, Biden said he had two letters from Ryan seeking a share of the stimulus money.
Ryan countered that he was seeking the funds for his constituents, prompting a Biden laugh and the quip, "He said it will stimulate jobs."
The debate, moderated by ABC News' chief foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, was wide ranging, touching on foreign policy, taxes and jobs and abortion.
In a heated exchange over taxes and the health care act, Ryan said the middle class would ultimately end up paying for the administration's entitlements.
"Watch out, middle class. The tax bill is coming to you," Ryan said.
Biden was emphatic about a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014, insisting that it was "the responsibility of the Afghans" to secure their own country. But Ryan attacked that point, saying it was irresponsible and dangerous for the Obama administration to announce a deadline for withdrawal.
Biden said Obama had pushed for the toughest sanctions against Iran that the world has ever seen and he was "quite confident" that the U.S. could strike Iran if necessary.
Ryan, however, said the administration had not taken a hard enough line with Iran and was "projecting weakness abroad."