US Presidential Election 2012
The United States' 57th quadrennial presidential election took place in November 2012. Incumbent President and Democrat Barack Obama won election and is running for a second term. His major challenger was former Massachusetts Governor, Republican Mitt Romney. From January to June, Americans voted in nationwide state level primaries and caucuses, which serveed the purpose of selecting party representatives of states to be sent for the party convention. The key issues in this race for the White House were social issues including the state of the economy, abortion and contraception, gay marriage, and immigration.
Joe Biden smirks his way through Paul Ryan's remarks
Vice-president can't keep a straight face as he listens to rival's arguments
Reuters in Washington
He is known for his blunt opinions, but the US vice-president showed something else in his arsenal as he took on his Republican wannabe: the smirk.
Well, not just the smirk, there was also the guffaw and the exasperated grin.
Joe Biden's expressions during Thursday's vice-presidential debate theatrically conveyed dismay, disbelief or amusement at the various points Paul Ryan was making. And they became a key part of the show.
During the 90 minutes he sat across the table from his opponent, Biden smirked, lifted his eyes to the ceiling, and gave mocking smiles. At one point, he raised his hands in the air; at another point while Ryan was talking, he mouthed: "Not true."
Twitter and other social media was soon abuzz with criticism and praise of the 69-year-old's reactions.
Ryan, 42, employed his own signature expression throughout the contest - a boyish tilt of the head, with a smile that melts into a frown at both ends. It's a look that can be read a number of ways, but on this night mostly seemed to express sympathy for someone whose ideas had gone tragically astray.
Ryan got a laugh, too, as he provided a translation for moderator Martha Raddatz when Biden cryptically criticised Ryan's plans as "a bunch of stuff".
"What does that mean, a bunch of stuff?" Raddatz asked.
"It's Irish," Ryan said. Biden agreed. However, there wasn't much else the two agreed on.
A number of times Biden didn't let Ryan finish an argument - a big departure from Obama's much-criticised laidback demeanour in his first debate against Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney. And not all conservatives appreciated Ryan's restraint.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch gave the Republican a terse review on Twitter: "Ryan too polite to interrupt and score points," he said.
He may have expected something different after photographs of Ryan's pumped-up biceps were published just hours before the debate.
Time magazine posted a series of pictures of the famously fit Ryan, which it said were taken in late 2011 when Ryan was a finalist for its Person of the Year issue.
Naturally, the pictures sparked a surge of debate, attention and parody on the web.
"Paul Ryan pics spark dumbbell debate," announced the headline on the Politico news website's most emailed article of the day.