More than halfway through the debate, the discussion moved to the struggling economy. Although Biden often mentions his humble roots in Scranton, Pa., it was Ryan who first brought up the northeastern Pennsylvania city's climbing unemployment rate under the Obama administration.
"Did they come in and inherit a tough situation? Absolutely," Ryan said. "But we're going in the wrong direction. Look at where we are. The economy is barely limping along."
Biden also took at shot at Romney's comments revealed on five-month-old hidden video of him speaking at a private fundraiser that "47 percent" of the country's citizens see themselves as "victims" dependent on the government. It was an attack line Democrats had hoped Obama would use in his first meeting with Romney but didn't.
Ryan defended Romney by telling Biden, who is occasionally gaffe-prone, that sometimes, politicians don’t say exactly what they mean. “I think the vice president very well knows that words don't always come out of your mouth the right way," he said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.