Biden Comes Out Ahead in VP Debates

Sal Polcino, El Vaquero Staff Writer

Heading into a four-game series down 0 – 1, Vice President Joe Biden needed to score big to bring the Democrats back into the race. He did just that, dominating the debate against Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Unlike Jim Lehrer in the first presidential debate, moderator Martha Raddatz, senior foreign affairs correspondent for ABC since 2008, took control from the beginning, never allowing the candidates to go off  topic or beyond their allotted two minutes. Raddatz chastised both speakers on more than one occasion for interrupting and smoothly changed directions when she felt things getting out of hand. Her questions were timely and succinct.
President Barack Obama’s coaches might have told him to wait for the right pitch in the first debate but Biden’s guys told him to swing away. Biden was aggressive from the start, shaking his head, grinning or laughing while Ryan spoke, showing disdain and incredulousness at the Republican’s answers. Biden’s attitude is the only point critics are harping on in the aftermath.
Ryan comported himself well but many of his replies were vague. When asked why Romney has a wait-and-see policy regarding withdrawal from Afghanistan Ryan had no clear reply. Biden said the current administration insists our troops will be pulled out in 2014, no exceptions.
More than once Biden reminded viewers of  Romney’s gaff with his now-famous “47 percent” remark. Ryan countered with an insult to Biden’s mistakes in the past, the only  cureveball Ryan threw all night. Biden,  unfazed, hit that one right back by saying he always means what he says.
When asked about the situation in Syria, Ryan accused the White House  of not providing enough security.  Biden denied there had been requests for more security before the shooting in Benghazi. Fact checkers found this to be untrue.
When Ryan called Syria “Iran’s biggest ally,” Raddatz quickly changed the subject to Iran.
Biden said sanctions on Iran are the toughest ever imposed and that Iran is far from building nuclear weapons. Biden added that the Ayatollahs  see that most of the world is against them.
Ryan’s take on Iran was much more militaristic, saying that although war is the last resort, Romney’s administration would do anything to protect the American people, even if it means sending troops into a situation that would disrupt the Middle East for generations to come.
On domestic matters such as taxes, the candidates reiterated their respective party’s platforms. Republicans cut taxes on the rich, according to Biden. Democrats tax everyone, according to Ryan.
Ryan also criticized Obama’s stimulus plan for green energy stating that $90 billion went to  “green pork,” not taking into account the thousands of homes that were converted to more efficient energy.
Ryan said the Romney White House  would cut taxes across the board by 20 percent. There is still no viable plan to do so and Biden was quick to criticize.
On Medicare and Social Security issues, Ryan said that “Obamacare” stole billions from Medicare. Biden said the opposite. The Republican plan to reinvent Medicare with a voucher system for the next generation was vague.
When Raddatz broached the question of abortion, both Ryan and Biden’s Catholic faith came into the forefront.  Ryan, always a pro-life advocate, softened his stance to follow the Romney camp’s take on allowing abortion in cases of rape, incest or risk to the mother. In the past,  Ryan’s record has a no tolerence stance on abortion in any instance.
Biden, while professing his strong faith and belief in the sanctity of life, said that he doesn’t have the right to impose his faith on others and would never tell a woman what to do with her own body.
In the final statements Biden’s message was “a fair shake for everyone,” referring to aiding the poor and the middle class. Ryan’s final statement was an attack on the current administration, asking voters if they are better off than they were four years ago.
Perhaps what this debate will be remembered for will be Ryan’s anecdotes of personal stories designed to make him appear a regular guy, not the life-long politician he is, and Biden’s sarcastic laughing while Ryan was speaking.
Experts have said Biden won this match but the polls will show if voters agree.