Politics

October 12, 2012

VP showdown a 90-minute slugfest

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan trade jabs in a debate that showed their differences on spending, foreign policy, taxes and more.

By DAVID ESPO and MATTHEW DALY The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, respond to moderator Martha Raddatz during the vice presidential debate at Centre College, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Associated Press

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Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, right, listens as Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the vice presidential debate at Centre College, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Associated Press

Related headlines

UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

DEBATE TWO

WHEN: Tuesday, 9 p.m.

WHERE: Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.

MODERATOR: Candy Crowley, chief political correspondent, CNN

FOCUS: Foreign and domestic policy

DEBATE THREE

WHEN: Oct. 22, 9 p.m.

WHERE: Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.

MODERATOR: Bob Schieffer, chief Washington correspondent, CBS News

FOCUS: Foreign policy


Likewise, Romney called Ryan and congratulated him on his performance, a campaign spokesman said.

Obama and Romney hold their next debate on Tuesday in Hempstead, N.Y, then meet again on Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.

In Kentucky, Biden and Ryan seemed ready for a showdown from their opening moments on stage, and neither seemed willing to let the other have the final word. They interrupted each other repeatedly – and moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC as well.

Ryan focused on dreary economic statistics – 23 million are struggling to work, he said, and 15 percent of the country is living in poverty. “This is not what a real recovery looks like.”

Medicare was a flashpoint, as well. Ryan said Obama’s health care plan had diverted $716 billion from the program for seniors and created a new board that could deny care to patients who need it.

Democrats “haven’t put a credible solution on the table,” he said. “They’ll tell you about vouchers. They’ll say all these things to try to scare people.”

Biden quickly said that Ryan had authored not one but two proposals in which seniors would be given government payments that might not cover the entirety of their care. Otherwise, he said, the Romney-Ryan approach wouldn’t achieve the savings they claimed.

Unlike Obama, Biden had no qualms about launching a personal attack on Romney.

After Ryan argued that Romney’s plan would pay for reduced tax rates by eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthy, Biden noted that on a recent interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Romney defended the 14 percent tax rate he pays on his $20 million income as fair, even though it’s a lower rate than some lower income taxpayers pay.

“You think these guys are going to go out there and cut those loopholes?” Biden asked, addressing the national TV audience, his tone of voice indicating he did not.

But Ryan said he and Romney believe “taking 28 percent of families’ and businesses’ income is enough.”

“What we’re saying is lower tax rates across the board and close loopholes primarily on the higher income people,” Ryan said. He said that instead of specifying what loopholes and other tax breaks would be eliminated, Romney preferred to lay out broad principles in hopes of reaching a bipartisan agreement.

Across 90 minutes, the two men agreed precisely once.

That was when Ryan, referring to the war in Afghanistan, said the calendar was the same each year. Biden agreed to that, but not to his rival’s underlying point, which was that it was a mistake for Obama to have announced a date for the withdrawal of the remainder of the U.S. combat troops.

The fiercest clash over foreign policy came in the debate’s opening moments, when Ryan cited events across the Middle East as well as Stevens’ death in Libya as evidence that the administration’s foreign policy was unraveling. The Republican also said the administration had failed to give Stevens the same level of protection as the U.S. ambassador in Paris receives.

Biden rebutted by saying that the budget that Ryan authored as chairman of the House Budget Committee had cut the administration’s funding request for diplomatic security by $300 million.

On the nation’s economy, both men were asked directly when his side could reduce unemployment to 6 percent from the current 7.8 percent. Both men sidestepped.

Biden repeated the president’s contention that the nation is moving in the right direction, while Ryan stated the Republican view that economic struggle persists even though Democrats had control of both houses of Congress during the first two years of Obama’s term.

(Continued on page 3)

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