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Biden, Ryan put on a slugfest
Vice President Joe Biden (L) debates Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R) during the vice presidential debate in Danville, Ky., on Thursday night. (REUTERS/John Gress)
Accusations of inaccuracies and political posturing flew as soon as Thursday night's debate began between Vice President Joe Biden and the Republican nominee, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.
“With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey,” Biden said after Ryan accused the administration of President Barack Obama of ignoring requests for increased security and misleading American citizens regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead.
Ryan said Obama initially blamed the attack on protests over a video that offended Muslims, then later confirmed it was a deliberate terrorist attack.
“It took the President two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack,” Ryan said. “Unfortunately, it's indicative of a larger problem.”
Biden said “the intelligence community” provided the administration with information that later was altered. He called untrue the charges that the consulate asked for more security.
“There were requests for more security. Those requests were ignored,” Ryan responded.
The stark positions between Biden and Ryan continued when debate moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News asked when the unemployment rate, which in recent reports was at 7.8 percent, would be below the benchmark of 6 percent that she said the Obama administration had promised.
“I don't know how long it will take,” Biden said.
Referring to a video of Romney saying 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government, Biden said Romney disagreed with Obama's efforts to rescue General Motors and provide mortgage refinancing options to homeowners.
“That shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives,” he said.
“Governor Romney cares about 100 percent of the American people,” Ryan said. “I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes words don't come out of our mouths the right way.”
Ryan said job growth has continued to slow each month over the last several months.
“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” Ryan told the debate audience at Centre College in Danville, Ken.
The debate featured plenty of heated moments, as Biden frequently interjected when Ryan spoke, and vice versa.
When Ryan said the unemployment rate rose from 8.5 percent to 10 percent in Biden's hometown of Scranton, Penn., and said, “This is how it's going across the country,” Biden spoke over him, saying, “No it's not. It's going down.”
“I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other,” Ryan said to Biden at one point.
The forum jumped between foreign and domestic issues, including tensions with Iran, the civil war in Syria, taxes, the economy and health care.
Biden accused Ryan of misrepresenting as “small businesses” those who earn more than $1 million per year and who would be affected by Obama's call for the Bush-era tax breaks to expire.
“You know who these small businesses are they're talking about? Hedge funds,” he said. “Ninety-seven percent of small businesses make less than $250,000.”
The debate also had a moment that echoed one of the most famous lines in debate history, when Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Lloyd Bentsen told Republican candidate Sen. Dan Quayle, “Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy” after Quayle compared his length of service in Congress to that of President John F. Kennedy.
When the discussion turned to taxes, Ryan said previous presidents had cut taxes by as much as the 20 percent Ryan has proposed and named “Jack Kennedy.”
“Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy?” Biden said.
New Hampshire's Sen. Kelly Ayotte made the following statement after the debate:
“Paul Ryan offered solutions while Vice President Biden tried to duck blame,” the Republican said. “He couldn't defend the failed Obama economy, which has buried America's middle class and left 23 million Americans struggling for work.
“While Biden delivered more misleading rhetoric, Paul Ryan told the American people how a Romney administration would get millions of jobless Americans back to work. And he was clear about the need to solve our debt crisis — not hide from it, like President Obama has. The Romney-Ryan ticket is showing Americans that it has the right vision to grow the economy, create jobs, and get our fiscal house in order.”
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