Vice Presidential Contenders Clash In Danville

Oct 12, 2012

DANVILLE, Ky. - Danville’s Centre College played host to a feisty debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan Thursday and debate-goers weren’t shy about sharing their thoughts afterward.

A rendition of the national anthem aided by Churchill Downs’ bugler may have announced the official start of the evening, but the harmony didn’t last long.

"They butted heads a lot and I wasn't expecting that," said Centre junior Johnny Kehr, who experienced the debate inside the hall. He said seeing the exchange live gave the issues a much more immediate feel.

"Hearing those views in person really made it seem more real and not just something that was at a distance," he said.

State observers hoping for a discussion on coal or environmental regulations went home empty-handed, but the two candidates did spar on a host of topics, touching on Syria, Medicare, and abortion during the 90 minute debate. Much of the discussion afterward, however, focused on the incumbent’s demeanor. Linda Acton and Leona Barr-Davenport typified the reactions heard outside the debate hall.

"I don't like the way Joe Biden laughs at everything. He didn't seem very vice presidential doing that," Acton, a Republican from Louisville, said.

"I like the fact that Joe Biden stood his ground and he told the truth," said Barr-Davenport.

With the national race tightening, organizers also noted more intense interest in Thursday’s matchup than the vice presidential debate held at Centre in 2000 between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. Still, debate-goers in Danville seemed doubtful Thursday’s debate will cause any major shifts in the race.