Though vice presidential debates historically have not weighed heavily on Americans’ voting decisions, tens of millions tuned in to Thursday night's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan.
After the first presidential debate in which many deemed Gov. Mitt Romney the victor over President Barack Obama, the stakes were high tonight in Danville, KY, as each candidate tried to bolster their respective presidential candidates. Before the debate, pundits said that Joe Biden shouldered the responsibility of rebounding the Democratic ticket from Obama’s “lackluster” performance. Paul Ryan, they said, had to carry the momentum of Romney’s performance in Denver and further paint the Obama administration as ineffectual.
Going into the match, a new Pew poll said Joe Biden was viewed favorably by 39 percent surveyed in contrast to 44 percent who viewed Paul Ryan favorably. However, Ryan was quick to point out that Biden is a strong debater, having won several primary debates back in 2008 when Biden ran for president.
Tonight’s debate topic — domestic policy — had both men talking everything from social issues to war.
The Gloves Are Off
Ryan came out of the gates swinging after Moderator Martha Raddatz asked each candidate about the Obama administration’s response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11 that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
Ryan accursed the Obama administration of “making us less safe” and calling it an “unraveling” of foreign policy. Biden immediately called this statement “malarkey.”
Raddatz proceeded to touch on some controversial issues, including abortion, and directly mentioning both candidates’ Catholic faith. Both aligned with their churches, believing that life begins at conception. However, both disagreed on policy with Ryan stating that the Republican ticket opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest, while Biden said he would not want to impose his personal beliefs on anyone.
A potential war in Syria and the current war in Afghanistan took hold of the debate next. Biden firmly stated that he would not want to start another war in the Middle East despite reportings of human rights abuses. Ryan was critical of the Obama administration’s handling of the situation, but Biden then accused Ryan of not offering a specific alternative.
Both candidates agreed that pulling the troops out of Afghanistan by 2014 was an appropriate and realistic timeline, although Ryan was critical of broadcasting the U.S.’s plans to the enemy.
Biden stuck by the mantra that there will be tax cuts for the middle class while the Bush tax cuts would expire and those earning $1 million of income will pay more taxes. Ryan stated that under a Romney Administration, there would be a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. He acknowledged that there would be an increase in defense spending but a cut in soldiers to reduce the Navy.
Biden also brought up the viral video of Romney at a May fundraiser calling the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income taxes “victims.” He noted that no administration should sign off on almost half of the nation.
But Ryan used statistics to point out an economy that still needed much mending: 23 million unemployed and 15 percent of the nation in poverty.
So tell us in the comments ... Who gave the better debate performance?