Whoever wins on November 6, and however the president is thought to have done in the remaining debates, the only sure winner of the debate season is Joe Biden.

He has moved from the nearly man to the coming man, from also-ran to man-to-watch. Why so? Biden attracted a great deal of criticism from conservatives for his grimacing in the veep debate in Danville, Kentucky, for laughing in the face of GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, for shamelessly grabbing all the attention so that even when Ryan was speaking, everyone was watching Biden’s scoffing antics on the split screen. The Democratic base loved every second.

In a practical lesson on how to hug the limelight and dominate the conversation, Biden showed President Barack Obama how he should have torn into GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Denver -- and how he will have to make up lost ground in the few remaining weeks.

There is a great deal to recover. Before Denver, Obama enjoyed a clear lead over Romney in every head-to-head poll, bar a handful, since mid May. In the two weeks since, Obama has lost the precious momentum that propels into the White House the candidate who persistently looks a winner. Obama the hoopster dropped the ball, and safe-hands Biden picked it up and drove for the basket.

Biden not only showed Obama how to do it – with his passionate defense of the middle class, his calling out of the Romney-Ryan ticket for their plans to privatize Medicare and their fibs about the insolvency of Social Security, his use of personal anecdotes and pouncing zingers (“Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?”) – but he warmed the heart of newly nervous Democrats, who saw victory slipping from their grasp, with a landmark performance that has ensured his place on the party’s Mount Rushmore.