VP, Ryan combative in debate
By Mike Wereschagin and Salena Zito
Published: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 11:00 p.m.
Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan engaged in heated exchanges in their sole debate, interrupting each other, shaking their heads while the other was talking and accusing each other of not telling the truth.
Martha Raddatz, senior foreign correspondent for ABC News, who moderated the debate on Thursday night at Centre College in Danville, Ky., largely let the two attack each other, interrupting to ask for specifics on issues or cutting off a candidate who'd gone on too long.
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who is Mitt Romney's running mate, said the unrest in Egypt and the attack on the Libyan consulate in Benghazi, in which an ambassador and three other Americans were killed, is part of “the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the world more chaotic and less safe.”
“With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey,” Biden said.
The two had a series of exchanges that were much sharper than Romney's and President Obama's last week.
Ryan said Obama tried to water down sanctions against Iran. Biden said the administration's approach attracted crucial international support that isolated Iran in ways the GOP wouldn't have.
“Do you want to go to war?” Biden said to Ryan.
“We want to prevent war,” Ryan shot back.
Biden noted Romney supported keeping the sanctions in place, and added, “I may be mistaken. He changes his mind so often.”
Biden accused Republicans of “holding ... hostage” the Bush-era tax cuts for people making less than $250,000 a year. Ryan said taxing “every successful small business at 100 percent” would only fund the government for 98 days.
“There aren't enough rich people and small businesses to pay for their spending,” the congressman said.
When Biden interrupted him on one question, Ryan said, “I know you're under duress… but I think we'll be better served if we don't interrupt each other.”
“Well, don't take up the whole four minutes (of response time) then,” Biden said, talking over the end of Ryan's statement.
Both men entered Congress in their late 20s — Ryan at 28 and Biden at 29. Biden, 69, rose to prominence for his work on foreign policy and bills aimed at combating crime and violence against women. Ryan, 42, became a hero among conservatives for the austere federal spending plan he put forward soon after taking over as House Budget Committee chairman in 2011.
Biden attacked Ryan for criticizing the economic stimulus bill while requesting money for his Janesville congressional district.
“He sent me two letters saying, ‘By the way, can you send me millions of dollars?'” from the stimulus, Biden said.
Biden's gestures — laughing at some of Ryan's answers and rolling his eyes at others — came across poorly on the split-screen broadcast, said GOP strategist Bruce Haynes, a managing partner at Purple Strategies.
“He came well-prepared but lost control by alternating between inappropriate laughter and condescending rudeness,” Haynes said. “Any good points he might have made were overwhelmed by his bad attitude.”
“This was a messier debate than the last one, but Vice President Biden controlled the direction of the conversation and cut Congressman Ryan off at the knees every time he tried to assert something that was untrue,” said Mark Nevins, a Philadelphia-based Democratic consultant. “What will be interesting now is the debate after the debate. ... The next two-three days will tell us whether Biden stopped the Romney momentum in its tracks.”
That momentum was generated by Obama's lackluster performance in the first presidential debate last week.
Biden's challenge mirrored the one that faced then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, after President Ronald Reagan was seen to have lost in his first match against Democrat Walter Mondale.
“That vice presidential debate was a big deal in 1984 because President Reagan had an off night in his first debate,” Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, said of his father's challenge. “There was a lot of pressure for him to do well but he couldn't be too aggressive.”
That's partly because Bush was debating the first female candidate for the vice presidency, Geraldine Ferraro. Biden debated the second — former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — in 2008.
Ryan plans to campaign at Youngstown State University on Friday. Biden heads to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, in Ryan's home state, to campaign with his wife, Jill Biden.
Two remaining presidential debates are scheduled for Tuesday and Oct. 22.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Mike Wereschagin & Salena Zito are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Wereschagin can be reached at 412-320-7900 or email@example.com. Zito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Young Pakistani immigrant linked to Pennsylvania woman known as ‘Jihad Jane’ sentenced to prison
- NBA player plans Russia’s 1st Hooters
- Wrongfully arrested man sues city of Pittsburgh, police
- Emboldened by Italy move, QVC to expand into France
- Pens insider: Penalty killing a concern in Stanley Cup playoffs
- Kittanning baseball scores 5 runs in 1 inning for win
- Undersized rookie Gibbons is blur on ice for Penguins
- High school roundup: West Allegheny softball earns Section 2 win over Montour
- Putin’s national address to Russians raises fears of possible incursion into southeastern Ukraine
- Plum native Umberger inching closer to return for Blue Jackets
- Penguins’ Bylsma, Blue Jackets’ Richards know each other well