US vice-presidential hopefuls clash in debate
US Vice President Joe Biden and Congressmen Paul Ryan clashed on Iran, Libya, Afghanistan and domestic issues that included health care, abortion and tax in their sole televised debate on Thursday evening.
In a combustive debate, Biden savaged Mitt Romney over his remark to rich donors that 47 percent of Americans were “victims” reliant on government, an attack Obama avoided in his debate with Romney.
Biden then came under pressure from Ryan on Obama’s handling of the killing of US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, in Benghazi on 11th September.
“We will find and bring to justice the men who did this. Whatever mistakes were made, will not be made again,” Biden promised, then publicised Obama’s record on national security.
Biden highlighted Obama’s promise to end the war in Iraq and his successful operation to hunt and kill Osama bin Laden. He also maintained Obama’s priority to bring troops home from Afghanistan by 2014.
“The President of the United States has led with a steady hand and clear vision. Governor Romney, the opposite,” he charged.
Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, replied with an assault on Obama’s foreign policy and complained that the US ambassador to Paris had a Marines detachment while Stevens did not.
“Look, if we’re hit by terrorists, we’re going to call it for what it is, a terrorist attack,” Ryan said, hitting a Republican theme that Obama didn’t admit the truth for political reasons.
Ryan also mentioned a deeper problem for Obama: “What we’re watching is the unravelling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making things more chaotic and us less safe.”
Biden replied: “With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey.”
Immediate analysis by pundits scored the clash a draw, with Biden apparently doing enough to cheer Democrats and Ryan avoiding serious errors that could harm the Republicans.
Obama, who watched the debate aboard Air Force One, told reporters he “could not be prouder” of Biden and his strong advocacy of the middle class.
Romney called Ryan to congratulate him on his performance, aides said.
New polling gave the impression that Romney’s surge had lifted the Republican ticket into a tie, less than a month before Election Day.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey had Obama up six points in Ohio, but two other surveys in the state said the race was within a single point.
Romney had narrow leads in Colorado and Virginia, while Obama was up in another Virginia poll and led by one percent in Florida. Other states showed signs of a narrow race.
Thursday’s clash served as a warm-up for the final two presidential debates between Obama and Romney, in New York on 16th October and in Florida on 22nd October.
You can watch the full debate here: