Biden, Ryan have heated VP debate
BY NATASHA KORECKI Political Reporter @natashakorecki October 11, 2012 9:58PM
Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan of Wisconsin shake hands before the vice presidential debate at Centre College, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)
Updated: October 11, 2012 10:29PM
In age, in demeanor and in policy, vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan showed Americans Thursday night two vastly different options and style for the Nov. 6 election as they verbally sparred for 90 minutes on issues including taxes, foreign policy and abortion.
It was the battle of an impassioned, in-your-face 69-year-old Biden vs. a cool, numbers-crunching 42-year-old Ryan.
The two men delved right into the issues in their one and only debate after moderator Martha Raddatz asked whether the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya was a massive intelligence failure.
“It was . . . a tragedy,” said Biden. “We will find and bring to justice the men who did this.”
Biden later defended the initial information that the attack was the work of protestors. He said the administration was not attempting to mislead but was relying on what they were told by intelligence.
Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, didn’t hesitate to pounce on the issue.
“It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack … Look, if we’re hit by terrorists, we’re going to call it for what it is,” Ryan said. “This is more troubling by the day.”
Ryan criticized the Obama administration for not having proper security at the embassy — at least at the same level as it was at the French Embassy, Ryan said.
At that — and throughout the verbal sparring match — Biden appeared unable to keep a straight face. The cameras keyed in on a smirking, smiling, sometimes laughing Biden, who often talked over his opponent.
“With all due respect that is a bunch of malarkey,” Biden responded, saying that it was Ryan who asked for budget cuts that would cover such security.
After President Barack Obama had a poor showing in his first verbal bout with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Biden was tasked with coming out with a terrier-like persona.
He brought up Romney’s “47 percent” remark more than once — something Obama did not do in his debate.
Biden occasionally talked directly into the camera, addressing senior citizens and other voters with personal appeals.
Ryan was more reserved and stuck to numbers and details — even though Biden often dismissed his deficit reduction plan as “not mathematically possible.:”
Ryan did, however, get off one zinger: “I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way,” he said to much laughter.
Biden is known for making verbal gaffes.
At one point, the vice president tried to turn the tables, accusing Ryan and Romney of “loose talk.”
At another point, Ryan said Kennedy had lowered taxes and stimulated growth.
“Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy!” Biden exclaimed.
Ryan hit hard on unemployment and job creation, even while acknowledging that Obama walked into a dire situation in 2009.
Still: “We’re heading in the wrong direction … 23 million Americans are struggling for work today,” Ryan said.
On abortion, the two men, who are both Catholic, said they believed that life began at conception. Biden said that the decision was personal and would not interfere in a woman’s right to choose. Asked if a woman’s right to choose, which is now legal, could be in jeopardy depending on who was elected, Ryan said this:
“We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision,” saying, instead, the decision should go to elected officials.