U.S. Vice President Joe Biden struck a blow for his boss Barack Obama and for the Democratic Party on Thursday evening in Danville, Kentucky, when he put on a strong showing at the second high-level, pre-election debate, this time squaring off with Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
In what was billed as a much more impassioned exchange between the vice-presidential aspirants, relative to the recent presidential showdown between Mr. Obama and rival Mitt Romney in Denver on October 3, 2012 Mr. Biden appeared to dominate Mr. Ryan on a range of policy issues, from deficit-reduction to foreign policy in West Asia.
Further, Mr. Biden succeeded where Mr. Obama failed, for he managed to hammer out numerous arguments that the President did not. For example the Vice-President did not miss the opportunity to raise Mr. Romney’s controversial remarks, captured on videotape, in which Mr. Romney said that 47 per cent of Americans did not pay income taxes and were essentially entitlements-minded dependents who considered themselves victims.
Also unlike the Denver debate, which Mr. Obama was considered by many to have lost, the moderator, ABC channel anchor Martha Maddatz, won pundit plaudits for her piercing questions and strict control over the progress of the discussion. In Denver University, moderator Jim Lehrer was thought to have been unable to keep tabs on Mr. Romney in particular, who at points over-ruled the moderator’s request to close the discussion.
The debate itself threw into relief the two candidates’ starkly different positions on issues from the devastating September-11, 2012 attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, to their support for the reproductive rights of women.
When Mr. Ryan argued that incidents such as the one in Benghazi bolstered the case for rejecting “devastating defence cuts” that the Obama administration had allegedly planned as “It projects weakness,” Mr. Biden retorted, “With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey.”
When pressed by Ms. Raddatz on specifics Mr. Biden pointed out that “The Congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, [firstly]... [Second,] Governor Romney, before he knew the facts, before he even knew that our ambassador was killed, he was out making a political statement which was panned by the media around the world.”
Fact checkers at numerous media outlets confirmed the veracity of Mr. Biden’s comments in this regard, although some noted that his remark that the administration was not aware of the request for additional security by State Department officials in the embassy there was contradictory to the testimony of these officials to the U.S. Congress last week.
On the pro-life/pro-choice debate Ms. Raddatz pressed the candidates, both men members of the Catholic Church, to speak of their personal beliefs and how they impacted their views on the subject.
Touching upon his alleged personal view against the right of women to have an abortion, even in the cases of rape, incest and a danger to the life of the mother, Mr. Ryan said, “All I'm saying is, if you believe that life begins at conception, [the method of conception] therefore, doesn't change the definition of life. That's a principle.”
Contrarily Mr. Biden answered, “I accept my church's position on abortion as a... doctrine... in my personal life... But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here.
Although Mr. Biden’s performance is likely to have buoyed the flagging spirits of the Democratic Party faithful since the first presidential debate, history suggests that the vice-presidential debate does not move the polls as much. The next presidential debate, the second of three, will be held on October 16, 2012 in Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, and the third debate will be on October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida.