Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 12, 2012

Squabbles mark VP debate

DANVILLE, Ky. — At odds early and often, Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan squabbled over the economy, taxes, Medicare and more Thursday night in a contentious, interruption-filled debate. “That is a bunch of malarkey,” the vice president retorted after a particularly tough Ryan attack on the administration’s foreign policy.

“I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don’t interrupt each other,” Ryan said later to his rival, referring to Democratic pressure on Biden to make up for President Barack Obama’s listless performance in last week’s debate with Mitt Romney.

There was nothing listless this time as the 69-year-old Biden sat next to the 42-year old Wisconsin congressman on a stage at Centre College in Kentucky.

Ninety minutes after the initial disagreement over foreign policy, the two men clashed sharply over steps to reduce federal deficits.

“The president likes to say he has a plan,” Ryan said, but in fact “he gave a speech” and never backed it up with details.

Biden conceded Republicans indeed have a plan, but he said if it were enacted, it would have “eviscerated all the things the middle class care about.”

The debate took place a little more than a week after Obama and Romney met in the first of their three debates — an encounter that has fueled a Republican comeback in opinion polls.

With Democrats eager for Biden to show the spark the president lacked, he did so.

Unprompted, he brought up the video in which Romney had said

47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax, view themselves as victims and do not take responsibility for their own lives.

“It’s about time they take responsibility” instead of signing pledges to avoid raising taxes, Biden said — of Romney, Ryan and the Republicans.

The serial disagreements started immediately after the smiles and handshakes of the opening.

Ryan said in the debate’s opening moments that U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens had been denied sufficient security by administration officials. Stevens died in a terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

“Not a single thing he said is accurate,” Democrat Biden shot back.

Republicans and Democrats alike have said in recent days the presidential race now approximates the competitive situation in place before the two political conventions. The two men are generally separated by a point or two in national public opinion polls and in several battleground states, with Obama holding a slender lead in Ohio and Wisconsin.

Both the president and Romney campaigned in battleground states during the day before ceding the spotlight to their political partners for the evening.

In Kentucky, Biden and Ryan seemed primed for a showdown from their opening moments on stage, and neither seemed willing to let the other have the final word. They interrupted each other repeatedly — and moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC as well.

With Democrats eager for Biden to show the spark the president lacked, he did so.

Unprompted, he brought up the video in which Romney had said 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax, view themselves as victims and do not take responsibility for their own lives.

“It’s about time they take responsibility” instead of signing pledges to avoid raising taxes, Biden said — of Romney, Ryan and the Republicans.

But Ryan quickly turned to dreary economic statistics — 23 million are struggling to work, he said, and 15 percent of the country is living in poverty. “This is not what a real recovery looks like.”

Medicare was a flashpoint, as well. Ryan said Obama’s health care plan had diverted $716 billion from the program for seniors and created a new board that could deny care to patients who need it.

Democrats “haven’t put a credible solution on the table,” he said. “They’ll tell you about vouchers. They’ll say all these things to try to scare people.”

Biden quickly said that Ryan had authored not one but two proposals in which seniors would be given government payments that might not cover the entirety of their care. Otherwise, he said, the Romney-Ryan approach wouldn’t achieve the savings they claimed.

Unlike Obama, Biden had no qualms about launching a personal attack on Romney.

After Ryan argued that Romney’s plan would pay for reduced tax rates by eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthy, Biden noted that on a recent interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Romney defended the 14 percent tax rate he pays on his $20 million income as fair, even though it’s a lower rate than some lower income taxpayers pay.

“You think these guys are going to go out there and cut those loopholes,” Biden asked, addressing the national TV audience.

Across 90 minutes, the two men agreed precisely once.

That was when Ryan, referring to the war in Afghanistan, said the calendar was the same each year. Biden agreed to that, but not to the underlying point, which was that it was a mistake for Obama to have announced a date for the withdrawal of the remainder of the U.S. combat troops.

The fiercest clash over foreign policy came in the debate’s opening moments, when Ryan cited events across the Middle East as well as Stevens’ death in Libya as evidence that the administration’s foreign policy was unraveling. The Republican also said the administration had failed to give Stevens the same level of protection as the U.S. ambassador in Paris receives.

Biden rebutted by saying that the budget that Ryan authored as chairman of the House Budget Committee had cut the administration’s funding request for diplomatic security by $300 million.

On the nation’s economy, both men were asked directly when his side could reduce unemployment to 6 percent from the current 7.8 percent. Both men sidestepped.

Biden repeated the president’s contention that the nation is moving in the right direction, while Ryan stated the Republican view that economic struggle persists even though Democrats had control of both houses of Congress during the first two years of Obama’s term.

“Where are the 5 million green jobs” we were told would be created? Ryan said to Biden.  

Obama campaigned in Florida during the day. Mocking recent changes in Romney’s rhetoric, he told a rally in Miami rally, “After running for more than a year in which he called himself severely conservative, Mitt Romney is trying to convince you that he was severely kidding.”

Romney visited with 93-year-old Billy Graham in North Carolina before speaking to an evening rally in Asheville, N.C. “Prayer is the most helpful thing you can do for me,” he told the evangelist.

For Biden, Thursday night’s debate was his first since the 2008 campaign, when he shared a stage with Sarah Palin, then John McCain’s running mate.

Ryan spars frequently with Democrats during debates on legislation on the House floor and in the House Budget Committee, which he chairs, but not in a one-on-one encounter covering 90 minutes and a virtually unlimited range of topics.

For all their differences, the two men shared a common objective, to advance the cause of their tickets in a close race for the presidency — and avoid a gaffe that might forever seal their place in the history of debates.

Romney’s choice of Ryan as running mate over the summer cheered conservatives in the House, many of whom regard him as their leader on budget and economic issues. The seven-term lawmaker has authored a pair of deficit-reducing budgets in the past two years that call for spending cuts and changes in Medicare, blueprints that Republicans passed through the House and Obama and his allies in Congress frequently criticize. He also champions a no-tax increase approach to economic policy.

As a senator before becoming vice president, Biden was chairman of the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees, and he has long experience in national security issues. More recently, he was Obama’s point man in arduous, ultimately unsuccessful negotiations with Republicans on steps to cut the deficit.

Both Ryan and Biden held extensive rehearsals, with stand-ins for their opponents.

Biden turned to Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who is well-versed in Ryan’s policy views from his tenure as senior Democrat on the Budget Committee.

Ryan’s foil in rehearsal was former Solicitor General Ted Olson, a skillful courtroom advocate.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Baytree Animal Hospital LB copy.JPG Animal hospital named Business of the Week

    Baytree Animal Hospital was named Leading Business of the Week by the  Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce for July 14.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gavel-courtroom.jpg Water treatment plant discussed

    The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners discussed purchasing two pieces of equipment for the Alapaha Water Treatment Plant and the Spring Creek System for a total of $1,638,000 during its Monday work session and is expected to vote on the issue tonight.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • education.jpg Charter school petition denied

    Both the Valdosta City and Lowndes County school boards unanimously denied the joint charter petition from Scintilla Charter Academy during their respective meetings Monday evening.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • echols_alapapa.jpg WWALS gets grant from river network

    The Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River Systems Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) received a $500 Alapaha Water Trail Grant from the Georgia River Network

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140718-ARJim2.jpg Teacher at home anywhere in the world

    Variety is the spice of life. South Georgia is home to a diverse group of people, each with a unique life story. One man with glorious tales of travel and selfless volunteer work is Jim Kokoruda.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • fire2a.jpg Blaze damages North Lowndes home

    Lowndes County Fire Rescue responded to a fire call Sunday at 3756 Cross Creek Circle near Bemiss Road.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • 140719-KidsInc3 copy.jpg Kids get a taste of retail operations

    Valdosta Mall shoppers may have noticed a few additional shopping options Saturday as they walked through center court.
    Children ranging in age from 6 to 15 years old set up booths and sold products to consumers.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140719-UnseenProject7 copy.jpg CrossPointe welcomes ‘Unseen’ travelers home

    CrossPointe Church members gathered Saturday to greet their pastor and fellow congregationalists returning from a filmed two-month-long motorcycle trip across the nation and back.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • election.jpg Runoff set for Tuesday

    Advanced voting ended Friday for the runoff election from the May 20 primary.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Modern Woodmen RC copy.JPG Woodmen welcomed to Valdosta

    The The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce and its Ambassadors welcomed the Valdosta chapter of Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, July 15.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results