Vice President Biden generated the most boisterous responses on Twitter during the vice presidential debate Thursday night.
The audience in the Centre College auditorium — where Thursday night's vice presidential debate between Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was held — was asked not to tweet for the duration, but that didn't stop the tweets from flying elsewhere.
Still, the debate generated far fewer tweets overall than the first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney last week. Twitter's politics team counted just over four million tweets sent related to Thursday's debate, compared to the record-setting 10 million tweets sent for last week's debate.
Biden joked "malarkey" was an old Irish term, using it twice within the first 20 minutes of the debate and quickly prompting a nationally trending hashtag: #malarkey. The hashtag was helped along by members of President Obama's campaign staff, including Campaign Manager Jim Messina and Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter.
It was also one of the top four Google search terms associated with Biden during the debate.
Team Obama quickly began promoting a tweet from Biden to show up at the top of tweets using the hashtag #malarkey, as well, a smart move to keep Biden at the center of the conversation.
But it was Biden's persistent laughing and smiling while Ryan spoke that prompted multiple parody Twitter accounts.
MSNBC compared the laughing to the sighing of Al Gore during a debate in 2000, when Gore's reactions seemed to overshadow the content of the debate in later coverage. CNN's Piers Morgan seemed distracted by the smile, but later seemed to come around, saying Biden's expressions were infectious. ABC's Amy Walter didn't think the "laughing/smirking" worked at all, another sign that the laughter will come up in post-debate conversation.
Expect the Romney campaign to say Biden's laughter was a sign of desperation, while the Obama campaign will say Biden was reacting naturally to his opponent's policy claims. Shortly after the debate, the Republican National Committee was already pushing the hashtag #BidenUnhinged, and Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted, "The smirk didn't work."
People are complaining about Biden smiling/laughing. I like it. Paul Ryan is saying absurd things. #VPDebate— Krystal Ball (@KrystalBall1) October 12, 2012
If this keeps up much longer, Joe Biden's going to sprain his laugh muscles. #vpdebate— Indecision (@indecision) October 12, 2012
Joe, seriously, STOP SMIRKING. This is serious stuff. Be Vice-Presidential. #PMTdebate— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 12, 2012
Biden's smirk is infectious. I'm starting to laugh too. Maybe this is a deliberate cunning strategy. #PMTdebate— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 12, 2012
Fired up! @joebiden Grinning, cackling, laughing and rudely interrupting when he's out on ropes.— Karl Rove (@KarlRove) October 12, 2012
Biden won the Polident voting block.— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) October 12, 2012
Updated at 11:42 p.m.