DANVILLE, Ky. (AP) — In a spirited debate that laid out stark choices, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan teed up pointed arguments on the economy, social policy and America's place in the world that President Barack Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney now will drive forward into the campaign's final stretch.
With just 25 days to go in Campaign 2012 and throngs of people already voting, Obama and Romney will try to answer two questions that their running mates posed to the tens of millions of Americans who watched Thursday's hard-fought, 90-minute debate.
"Who do you trust?" Biden asked.
"Wouldn't it be nice to have a job-creator in the White House?" asked Ryan.
Biden, eager to make up for the president's lackluster performance in his first debate with Romney, played the aggressor throughout. And the president gave his running mate a quick thumbs up for delivering with the energy and feeling that he did not.
"His passion for making sure that the economy grows for the middle class came through so I'm really proud of him," Obama said after watching the debate aboard Air Force One on the way home after a day of campaigning in battleground Florida.
Ryan came back at the vice president with harsh talking points, a flurry of statistics and a sharp economic warning: In another Obama term, he said, "Watch out, middle class, the tax bill's coming to you."
Romney, who watched the debate at the end of a campaign day in North Carolina, got on the phone to Ryan immediately afterward to congratulate his running mate.
Now attention shifts to the two remaining debates between Obama and Romney: Tuesday's "town hall" style faceoff in Hempstead, N.Y., and a final showdown, over foreign policy, on Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.