Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) went head to head in the first and only vice presidential debate Thursday, creating a tense atmosphere with each candidate strongly on the offense.
The candidates displayed drastically different debate styles. Ryan debated in a precise and self-contained manner, using numbers to his strategic advantage, while Biden opted for a freer, more hard-hitting debating style, going as far as interrupting Ryan mid-argument.
“Mr. Vice President, I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground,” Ryan said. “But I think people would be better served if we didn’t keep interrupting each other.”
Ryan criticized the Obama administration for indecision, and Biden fired back by dismissing Ryan’s arguments as “loose talk.”
Biden attacked presidential candidate Mitt Romney for being “not presidential”when he held a news conference on Libya right after a U.S. diplomatic compound was attacked and the ambassador killed. He also defended himself against Ryan’s criticism of Obama’s response to the attacks.
“Whatever mistakes were made will not be made again,” Biden said before pivoting to Romney’s support of the war in Iraq.
Ryan accused the Obama administration of projecting an image of weakness in America to the world, to which Biden retorted, “With all due respect, that is a bunch of malarkey.”
Despite their intense clash in views, both Biden and Ryan agreed conveyed that the U.S. should pull troops out of Afghanistan by 2014. While Biden said it is up to Afghanistan to take responsibility for its own security, Ryan said he does not want the United States to lose the gains achieved by the war.
Ryan said he agrees with President Obama’s plan to transition the country out of war by 2014, but also believes that the White House should refrain from announcing a deadline for withdrawal and expose weakness.
The contenders brushed on the infamous 47 percent remarks by Mitt Romney, something that did not come up in the first presidential debate.
“I’ve had it up to here with this notion that, ‘47 percent, it’s about time they take some sort of responsibility here,’” Biden said.
Ryan responded with a reference to Biden’s past verbal mix-ups.
“Mitt Romney’s a good man. He cares about 100 percent of Americans in this country,” Ryan said. “I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes, the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.”
While this is the only vice presidential debate of the campaign season, President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will debate again in the second presidential debate on Tuesday, October 16 at 8 p.m. CT at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.