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Instant analysis: Even-handed debate fires up Dems, GOP

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DANVILLE, Ky. — Vice President Joe Biden and Republican opponent Congressman Paul Ryan participated in the first and only vice presidential debate of the race at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky Thursday night. While the opponents had stark differences in policy, there was ultimately no consensus winner.

The debate covered a myriad of subjects in both foreign and domestic policy, divided into nine segments by Martha Raddatz, who asked good questions and controlled the direction of the debate.

"Raddatz has done a good job hitting major points, foreign and domestic, while throwing in a few curveballs," tweeted @peteschroeder.

Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity disagreed, tweeting: "Martha Raddatz is the worst moderator. Maybe next time @PaulRyanVP should invite her to his wedding."

The vice presidential debate is generally viewed as an aggressive debate, and both candidates were aggressive in their attack. While Biden is generally considered the more experience debater, Ryan held his own, going toe-to-toe with Biden's statements.

The two discussed in detail the stark differences between the parties and rallied their base. Neither candidate really hurt their running mate, but gave equally good statements to get Democrats and Republicans fired up.


BuzzFeed reporter McKay Coppins tweeted, "Game not changed."

Ultimately, both party will say their candidate won, while saying the opponent distorted the facts and has a failed plan for the presidency.

Although the debate was pretty even handed, several Americans struggled with Biden's mannerisms and interruptions.

"This isn't a good, aggressive charming Joey," tweeted @secupp. "This is a scary, off-kilter, annoying slightly unhinged Vice President Biden."

"I don't know jack about politics and never heard either guy speak before but Biden sure seems like an angry, arrogant jerk- 1st impression," tweeted Greg Biggins.

While Biden's mannerisms came off arrogant to some Americans, others were turned off by Ryan's broad statements. Raddatz asked Ryan several times about specifics of the Romney plan, but Ryan continued to give broad statements most of the time.

"Fair to say Biden is speaking with details and Ryan in broad platitudes," tweeted @samsteinhp. "Reflects their backgrounds on this subject matter."

Religion & abortion

Ryan said his faith forms who he is. He said he's not simply pro-life because he's Catholic, but is more for reason and science. Ryan said life begins at conception. Ryan called out Biden for supporting the one-child policy put in place in China.

Vice Presidential Debate Grades
Did the candidate answer the question?
  • Joe Biden: A
    • Biden was not afraid to answer the question, and even interrupted several times to answer more questions.
  • Paul Ryan: B+
    • Ryan held his own with Biden, but failed to give more than broad statements in most instances.

How was their delivery?
  • Joe Biden: A-
    • Biden came out strong and aggressive, but for some it was a little too arrogant.
  • Paul Ryan: A
    • Ryan delivered careful, reserved statements, and held his own with a more experienced debater.

How did they present themselves?
  • Joe Biden: B+
    • For many, Biden came off arrogant at times, interrupting Ryan and calling him "my friend."
  • Paul Ryan: A-
    • Ryan looked confident, but occasionally looked out of place.

Did they appear genuine?
  • Joe Biden: A
    • As Biden said, "I say what I really mean."
  • Paul Ryan: A
    • Ryan, too, appeared genuine and gave heartfelt answers.
Who was the overall winner?
  • Martha Raddatz
    • While both candidates will say they won, the debate has to go to Raddatz for controlling the discussion. Additionally, Raddatz asked thoughtful, but tough questions to get the candidates to talk more about policy than campaign talking points.

Biden said he accepts his churches doctrine that life begins at conception, but because other people don't believe that, laws should not be put in place to stop abortion.


Biden said Syria is five times as large as Afghanistan and is heavily populated in a dangerous part of the world. If the wrong people get in control, there could be some serious problems, which makes it worthy of a fight. However, Biden said America can't afford to get in another ground war.

Ryan said nobody is proposing to send troops to Syria. He said Romney wouldn't be outsourcing powers to the U.N., thus giving Russia's Vladimir Putin more power. Ryan said Americans will lose credibility if something isn't done about Syria, saying more should have been done earlier. Ryan said each instance should have the national interest of the American people, with each situation being different.


Ryan said Republicans don't want to lose the gains they've gotten and give the Taliban a safe haven. He said they want to have a good transition in 2014, but not get out before. Ryan said he wants Americans to come home and that they don't want to extend the war beyond 2014. He said it's not a success because of the Obama foreign policy. Ryan said Republicans do not have an absolute date to leave because they don't want to broadcast a date to enemies — allies should trust Americans.

Biden said the military was there for one reason: to get the people behind the terrorist attacks in 9/11, which is done. Biden said the military would be used for some training of the Afghan army, but 2014 would be the last date. Biden said Republicans want to not make it a clear date, but Obama will leave in 2014. Period. Biden said it's the Afghanistan people's responsibility, not America's. Biden said unless a timeline is set, the Afghanistan people will not step up.


Biden said middle class families will pay less under Obama's tax plan, with wealthy individuals contributing more to society. Biden blames the Republicans for holding hostage the middle class tax cut. The last people that need help are those that are wealthy. Biden said there is no way Republicans will be able to cut deductions by $5 billion.

Ryan said the Romney/Ryan plan is to grow the economy and create jobs. He said if families who make more than $250,000 were taxed 100 percent government would only run for 98 days. He said there are not enough wealthy people to fund the government projects. Ryan said taxes will hurt small businesses and cost Americans jobs, which wouldn't pay for 10 percent of Democrats projects. Ryan said Romney wants to have a bipartisan agreements and provide a framework to lower taxes to 20 percent, removing deductions for higher incomes earners.


Ryan says younger Americans should have an option — choice and competition, let them determine their coverage, not bureaucrats. Ryan said several seniors will lose coverage when Obamacare goes into effect. He said under the Romney/Ryan plan Americans 55 and above will not have changing plans. Ryan says Romney wants Americans to have a choice.

Biden says the Obama administration has cut cost to Medicare and has extended the life of the program to 2024. He said if Republicans take over, Medicare will barely make it to 2016. Biden speaks to seniors, saying they have more benefits now. He said Obamacare will not cost them more and Americans should follow their instincts. Biden said the Democrats will not look to privatize Medicare.



Biden attacks the Republicans on the 47 percent comments, saying Republicans holding middle class Americans hostage; that they should take responsibility. Biden said Romney has no compassion for the auto industry and wanted it to fail. He says if Republicans could get out of the way and pass several bills, Americans could start getting jobs back. He said Republicans should stop talking and show me American people some good policies.

Ryan said a real recovery is not what America looks like now, says the rising unemployment in small towns is worse than when Obama took office. Ryan said Romney is compassionate and cares for the middle class and has worked to help people all his life. Ryan says the Obama administration had party control when he took office and could do everything he wanted, but nothing happen. In fact, Ryan says, the unemployment rate increased. He said the Romney/Ryan plan would get the economy growing at 4 percent.


Ryan says Obama administration watered down sanctions against Iran. To avoid war Americans have to negotiate with Iran peacefully and change their minds, but they're not changing their minds, Ryan said. Ryan said it undermines the country's credibility if actions aren't done. Iran is the world's largest sponsor of terror, and if they get nuclear weapons, it will give others terrorists weapons.

Biden said he feels quite confident that they could make a serious blow against the Iranians. They are far away from getting nuclear weapons, he says. Biden says Iranians don't have a weapon and are totally isolated. Biden laughing at a lot at Ryan's statements. He says war is a last resort.


Biden comes out saying they will find who's behind the attacks in Benghazi, and says Romney does not have a clear plan. Biden adds that Obama has clear vision, while Romney just wants another war. He said the president has done everything he said he would do, says the facts were exactly what he was told at the time. Biden says they were not told they wanted more security in Libya.

Ryan comes out saying the administration did not recognize the intelligence provided. He says the Benghazi issue is indicative of the problems with the Obama administration. Ryan says there were more requests for security, but nothing was given. He adds that we should not apologize for American values.

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Josh Furlong


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