Four years ago the Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin was watched by more than 70 million Americans. It was the second most watched campaign debate in history, behind only the Reagan - Carter showdown in 1980. Biden beat Palin soundly then, but most people think he will face a tougher challenge tonight when he squares off against Congressman Paul Ryan. In 2008 the much of the country tuned in for the entertainment value. The stakes are much higher this time. Jon Najarian co-founder of OptionMonster.com joined Breakout to discuss what he expects to see and the trading implications.
Najarian says each man will step on stage with a clear mission. For Biden, the goal is staying focused, substantive and on message. The Vice President's greatest strength is coming coming across an affable, real, person. The problem is real people speak off the cuff and say things they perhaps shouldn't. With Biden that's resulted in a long history of gaffes that would have sunk a lesser personality years ago. The Veep needs to be warm where the President was cold, and focused where Obama was atypically distracted.
Paul Ryan has to stay out of the analytical weeds and seem ready for prime time. The VP candidate is well known to fans of financial television but an enigma to the rest of the country. As a budget and economic ax, Ryan has to explain to the country why last month's stronger than expected unemployment rate isn't all that it seems and how Romney can speed the recovery. In many ways Ryan's goal is to do just what his boss did last week; humanize himself without pandering to the crowd.
Above all, both men need to repeat what Najarian refers to the President's "Xanax" moment.
"A lot of us are betting that Ryan really takes Biden apart," he says in the attached video. From a trading perspective that bet involves getting long coal and defense stocks. Lockheed Martin (LMT), Northrop Grumman (NOC) and anyone else making weapons that troops carry would stand to benefit from increased defense spending or even avoiding the cuts mandated by the fiscal cliff.
It's important to keep some perspective on the event. While must-see TV, the Presidential election seldom, if ever, is influenced by Vice Presidential candidates. Obama's mental no-show in the first debate raises the stakes tonight but not so much so that Najarian plans to buy or sell anything based on either man's performance. Under all but the most extreme circumstances, VPs and doctors have the same mandate: first do no harm.