Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan came out swinging in Thursday's one and only debate between the V.P. candidates, trading political and personal barbs in a 90-minute conversation that became heated at several points.
Immediately notable about the debate format was that the candidates did not stand behind podiums, but rather were seated behind a desk in office chairs, facing moderator Martha Raddatz at Centre College in Danville, Ky. The combative tone of the debate was markedly different from last week's meeting between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, with Ryan and Biden frequently interrupting and speaking over each other to clarify their positions on domestic and foreign issues including taxes, health care, and the removal of troops from Afghanistan. Biden in particular refused to back down on any points — often openly laughing at Ryan's responses, and at one point referred to the Wisconsin congressman's arguments as "a bunch of malarkey."
Ryan got in a few jabs as well, however. When the verbal gaffe-prone Biden referenced Romney's 47 percent comments, Ryan responded: "I think the Vice President knows, sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way." "But I always say what I mean," Biden shot back.
At another point, Ryan referenced President Obama's lackluster performance in the first presidential debate, telling Biden, "I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for a lost round, but I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other."
On foreign policy, Biden stressed that the Obama administration's policy was to avoid war at all costs, while Ryan spoke of his and Romney's concern about America appearing weak. The two candidates also referenced their faiths (it was the first time two Catholic candidates had met in a vice-presidential debate) when outlining their opposing views on abortion.
Here's a breakdown of each candidate's views on some of the issues that were discussed:
On preventing Iraq from obtaining a nuclear weapon:
Biden: "If we ever have to take action, unlike when we took office, we will have the world behind us. And that matters."
Ryan: "They're racing toward a nuclear weapon. ... The administration ... [says] the military option is on the table, but it's not being viewed as credible ... In a Romney administration, we would have credibility on this issue."
On the economy:
Biden (addressing Republicans): "Just get out of the way. Stop talking about how you care about something. Show me something. Show me a policy where you take responsibility. ... They talk about this great recession if it fell out of the sky like, 'Oh my goodness! Where did it come from?' It came from this man [Ryan] voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, and a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy ... and now all of a sudden these guys are so seized with the concern about the debt that they created."
Ryan: "The economy is barely limping along. ... They came in with one-party control ... and look at where we are right now. ... Was it a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like China and spend it on all these various different interest groups?"
Ryan: "They haven't put a credible solution on the table. ... We would rather have 50 million future seniors determine how their Medicare is delivered to them instead of 15 bureaucrats deciding what, if, where, when they get it."
Biden: "Any senior out there, ask yourself, do you have more benefits today? You do."
Ryan: "We are not going to jeopardize this program, but we have to save it for the next generation so it doesn't go bankrupt."
Biden: "You are jeopardizing the program. You're changing the program from a guaranteed benefit to a premium support whatever you call it. The bottom line is, people are going to have to pay more money out of their pocket, and the families I know, the families I come from, they don't have the money to pay more out of pocket."
On tax cuts:
Ryan: "We think that government taking 28 percent of a family and business' income is enough. President Obama thinks that the government ought to be able to take as much as 44.8 percent of a small business' income. ... Watch out, middle class. The tax bill's coming to you."
Biden: "The middle class will pay less and people making a million dollars or more will pay more. ... let [the Bush tax cuts] expire like they're supposed to on those millionaires. We can't afford $800 billion going to people making a minimum of a million dollars. They do not need it."
On withdrawing troops from Afghanistan:
Biden: "We are leaving in 2014, period. ... The primary objective is almost completed. Now all we're doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It's their responsibility, not Americans'."
Ryan: "We don't want to broadcast to our enemies, 'Put a date on your calendar, wait us out and then come back.' ... We agree with the timeline and the transition. ... What we do not want to do is give our allies reason to trust us less and we don't want to embolden our enemies to hold and wait out for us and then take over."
Ryan: "I believe that life begins at conception. ... The policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother."
Biden: "I accept my church's position on abortion. ... I accept it in my personal life, but I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews. I just refuse to impose that on others ... I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people, women, that they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor."
Did the debate help move the needle on the campaign? Who do you think came out on top?