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THE DAY AFTER DANVILLE—At this point, you probably know what happened last night: Joe Biden showed up on stage wearing a metaphorical cape and did his best to save President Obama's campaign. If you're a Democrat you probably thought the veep turned out to be a real-life political superhero; if you're a Republican you likely saw him as a slightly unhinged old man playing dress-up. If you're one of those rare undecided swing voters who very well may decide this whole thing, well, we seriously doubt that a 90-minute VP debate was the only thing you were waiting on to finally make up your mind about who you'll vote for on Nov. 6.
BUT BEFORE WE LOOK BACK—Let's look forward. Now that the understudies are finished with their sole turn in the debate spotlight, the focus shifts back to the top of the tickets, where this race was always going to be decided. President Obama and Mitt Romney will face-off in their second debate next Tuesday at a town hall-style debate at Hofstra University.
MODERATOR IN THE MIDDLE—CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley will be running the show in Long Island. She'll have a tough act to follow after Martha Raddatz drew nearly universal praise for using a heavier hand to control the political back-and-forth than did Jim Lehrer during the first presidential debate in Denver. What the 63-year-old's hoping to see from Obama and Romney (via NYT): "Surprise me. Don’t make it so that I know what you’re going to say. That is what I most want out of both these guys. Sit back, drop your 12 points and surprise me with an answer."
INSIDE THE HUDDLES—Politico: "The Biden-Ryan exchange presents challenges for both presidential nominees. ... Obama will need to match Biden’s substantive aggressiveness, while avoiding stylistic excesses that would look especially out of place for a president. Romney must revive his momentum from the Denver debate after Ryan did little to help the cause at the Centre College debate."
JUST RIGHT—NBC News's First Read: "Obama is looking for a Goldilocks' performance. Obama in Denver was too cold, Biden in Danville might have been too hot, and Obama, the sequel, has to figure out how to be just the right combination of assertive without being condescending."
HOORAY, IT'S FRIDAY! You made it. We all did. Welcome to The Slatest PM, where your afternoon host heads into the weekend on a Ken Jennings news quiz winning streak. Here's the Slate office leader board from this week: 1) Josh Voorhees 499; 2) Dan Kois 453; 3) Farhad Manjoo 439; 4)David Plotz 438; 5) Rachael Larimore 433; 6) June Thomas 424; 7) Jeremy Stahl 385; 8) Aisha Harris 382; 9t) David Haglund 359; 9t) Vivian Selbo 359.
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FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS—THR: "Peter Berg, the writer-director of the Friday Night Lights movie and television series, is not pleased that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has co-opted a phrase from the show for his campaign appearances. In a letter to the Romney campaign sent Friday and obtained exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter, Berg calls the use of 'Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose' an act of stealing. 'Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series,' Berg writes in the letter. 'The only relevant comparison that I see between your campaign and Friday Night Lights is in the character of Buddy Garrity—who turned his back on American car manufacturers selling imported cars from Japan.' Full Letter Here.
WHAT DICKERSON SAW LAST NIGHT—Slate's John Dickerson: "Biden won the debate, but it was a qualified victory. He energized Democrats who had been down in the dumps since the president’s supine performance, but he also energized Republicans who found him rude and dishonest. Swing voters might have been turned off, too. But it probably doesn’t matter since they’re going to vote for the top of the ticket."
WHAT WEIGEL SAW LAST NIGHT—Slate's David Weigel: "Liberals and conservatives respond to identical events, identical setbacks to their sides, in precisely opposite ways. Conservatives wonder if the data is skewed. Democrats just know that they’re screwed. After Obama failed them, liberals spent a long holiday weekend discussing just how badly he’d failed. They called into NPR to talk about why he’d failed. They blogged at Daily Kos about why he’d failed. Biden calmed them. For at least 45 minutes he laughed at everything Ryan said—a pitying, who-is-this-schmuck laugh. The first credible Republican spin I heard in Danville: Well, you know, that’s good for him, but not really good enough."
WHAT KAPLAN SAW LAST NIGHT—Slate's Fred Kaplan: "It wasn’t as lopsided as Gov. Romney’s win over President Obama last week, but Joe Biden mopped the floor with Paul Ryan in their debate Thursday night, on foreign as well as domestic policy, though on one big issue—the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan—the vice president had his facts wrong."
WHAT LARIMORE SAW LAST NIGHT—Slate's Rachael Larimore: "Hey Commission on Presidential Debates: Give us more reporters! ... You knew from the very first question, when [Martha] Raddatz asked, directly and specifically, about the Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, that she was going to steer the debate toward substantive issues and demand specific answers."
WHAT THE REST OF US SAW LAST NIGHT—
- The 2012 Vice Presidential Debate Awards (Danville Edition)
- Five Big Dubious Claims in the VP Debate
- Joe Biden Called Paul Ryan His "Friend" 14 Times, and Other Numbers From the VP Debate
- For Good and Bad, Biden Is the One Who Has the Pundits Talking
- Not Everyone Loved Martha Raddatz's Turn as Debate Moderator
- How the Debate Played on Today's Front Pages
- Paul Ryan, Unprompted, Makes Contraception an Issue in VP Debate
- What Does Paul Ryan's Bean Have To Do With Abortion?
- Paul Ryan's Bean Story Is Not Universal
ALL THIS DEBATE TALK HAVE YOU CRAVING A DRINK? How Much Drinking Is Too Much Drinking?
CHECKING THE NON-DEBATE TRAPS—
WaPo: "The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, a choice that celebrates Europe’s post-World War II economic and political integration but comes as the 27-nation body confronts widespread criticism over its handling of a massive debt crisis that has become the biggest challenge of its existence."
WSJ: "The federal budget deficit topped $1 trillion for the fourth consecutive year, highlighting the severe fiscal challenges President Barack Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney will face during the next four-year term in the White House."
AP: "A Secret Service officer was arrested early Friday after being found passed out and apparently drunk on a Miami street corner several hours after President Barack Obama left the state following day trip to the city, police in Florida said."
Reuters: "The deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis expanded to 12 states with the first case confirmed in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday, bringing the total of cases to 184. The number of deaths from the outbreak linked to injections of steroid remained at 14 on Friday."
We'll see you back here Monday. But until then, tell your friends to subscribe here, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.