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VP face off

Biden, Ryan spar in first and only debate

October 12, 2012
By Jasmine Rogers ( , The Marietta Times

Upcoming presidential debatesIt was the vice presidential candidates' turn to shine Thursday night. After the first presidential debate left viewers chattering more about Big Bird than the issues, Vice President Joe Biden and challenger Paul Ryan tried not to stray from the general issues in their first and only debate before the election.

"Well I thought they both stood up well, and I did not see any stumbles particularly," said Robin Bozian, 60, of Cutler.

However, more time for each talking point would have allowed the candidates to get deeper into the issues.

Article Photos

The Associated Press
Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin gesture after the vice presidential debate at Centre College, Thursday, in Danville, Ky.

"I was disappointed that we never did get the cuts that they keep talking about," said Bozian in reference to how Ryan and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would fund their proposed 20 percent tax cut.

Moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News asked Ryan if he had a specific plan in place that would account for the tax cuts.

"What we're saying is here is our framework. Lower the tax rate by 20 percent. Deny those loopholes to higher tax brackets," he answered.

Fact Box

Upcoming presidential debates

- Each debate will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels, including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC among others.

- Oct. 16, 9 p.m.-10:30 p.m., a town meeting format in which undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization will be able to ask questions which each candidate has two minutes to answer. Will include topics on both foreign and domestic policy.

- Oct. 22, 9 p.m.-10:30 p.m., a foreign policy debate moderated by Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's Face the Nation. The format will be identical to the first presidential debate.


Though Ryan did not give specifics when pressed by Raddatz, he did guarantee the math adds up.

"Everything I have read says you can not do that without being pretty catastrophic to social programs," commented Bozian.

Beyond proposed tax plans, Ryan and Biden tackled issues ranging from foreign policy in Iran and Afghanistan to domestic policies such as Medicare and Social Security.

The candidates struck very different stances on the nuclear capabilities in Iran.

"What would be worse, another war in the middle east or a nuclear armed Iran?" asked Raddatz.

In response, Ryan said even the possibility of nuclear weapons in Iran would lead to a nuclear arms race in the middle east, a situation that could lead to war in the long run.

Biden, however, said that war should always be the last resort. He maintained that Iran is nowhere close to having nuclear capabilities.

Marietta resident Sharon Farnsworth, 65, said the conversation was eerily reminiscent of previous president George W. Bush's comments Iraq.

"When I heard Paul Ryan talking about Iran, it reminded me of George Bush talking about Iraq. It just brought me back to that whole business of weapons of mass destruction," said Farnsworth.

When the topic turned to domestic policy, Biden fought hard to defend the Affordable Care Act, which Ryan said has forced thousands of Americans to give up health care plans which they preferred.

"The American Medical Association, American Association of Retired Persons endorsed what we did. It extended the life of Medicare to 2026," argued Biden.

If Romney and Ryan repeal Obamacare like they have promised, it would make Medicare insolvent in 2016, added Biden.

Ryan said his plan would not change Medicare benefits for Americans over 55, and would give the younger generation the freedom to make their own decisions.

Marietta resident Mary Finley, 61, felt Biden did a good job bringing up some of the points that Obama skimmed over during last week's debate.

"I was really happy Vice President Biden point out that GM is alive and well. Governor Romney was, of course, willing to let Detroit fail," said Finley.

Biden said Romney had no commitment to the automobile industry.

"He said let it go bankrupt. I've never met two guys who are more down on American," said Biden.

Ryan painted a picture of an economy that is still not where it needs to be.

"We need real reforms for real recovery. This is not what recovery looks like," said Ryan.

He pointed to his hometown of Scranton, Pa., where the unemployment rate has risen from 8 to 10 percent since President Barack Obama took office.

Biden interrupted saying that number contradicted the national average, which actually shows the unemployment rate at its lowest point in nearly four years.

Biden's frequent interruptions were disrespectful, said Marietta resident Anita White, 50.

"Joe Biden seemed extremely condescending and rude, with his chuckling and his smirk," said White.

Conversely, Ryan handled the interruptions well and remained even tempered throughout the night, added White.

When Biden brought up Romney's comment that 47 percent of Americans feel entitled to government help, Ryan defended Romney, quipping, "As the vice president very well knows ... sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way."

Ryan also gave a more compelling closing statement, said White.

"President Obama had his chance. He made his choices. It has failed to create the jobs we need," Ryan said in closing.

The presidential debates pick back up Tuesday with a town hall style debate. The final presidential debate will take place Oct. 22 and will closely follow the format of the first presidential debate.



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