The Vice Presidential in Danville, Kentucky starts in 10 minutes and I will be live-blogging it.
Tonight’s debate could be a big rumble. With the race tightening up, Obama’s mediocre performance and Romney’s stronger performance last week, the two Veep candidates are not under the same pressure to fly above the fray. Expect the gloves to come off. Joe Biden needs to land some hits and Ryan needs to try make sense of his tax plans for the American people.
My prediction is that Biden will ‘win’ the debate. He will look older, more experienced more ‘vice presidential’ (whatever that means). He will land some solid blows and Ryan won’t be able to shrug all of them off. Paul Ryan will try to call something socialism in essence, but it won’t stick. Brian Williams is on now. Here we go.
Nine segments in 90 minutes? That’s expecting a lot. Did we even get through two segments last week?
The moderator starts out by putting Biden on the defensive. (And conservatives were whining she’s in the tank for Obama, because she met him 20 years ago.) Biden expands the Benghazi issue to foreign policy generally. He starts out attacking Romney on his poor judgment on foreign policy. Romney wouldn’t go after Bin Laden or end Iraq. I hope he mentions that GOP congressman outed a CIA safehouse in Benghazi yesterday in their politicized witch hunt.
Ryan says ‘now they’re trying to blame us for making this an issue?’ Uhhh, Romney was making it an issue AS Ambassador Stevens was being murdered. Ryan says “the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.” Ryan says we’re making devastating defense cuts. What cuts have been made were made by the GOP House.
Biden calls Ryan on his embassy staff cuts. Calls Romney on injecting himself into an ongoing crisis. He says “these guys bet against America all the time.”
“Usually before there’s a crisis, we pull together as a nation.” “But even before we knew… Romney was holding a press conference.” Great line!
Ryan says there was no Marine detachment in Benghazi. Is he unaware that the GOP outed a CIA safehouse that was secretly providing security because the GOP cut embassy staff in the House hearing yesterday?
Ryan says Iran has enough fissile material for five nuclear bombs? What? Ryan says the House imposed the sanctions, even though the White House tried to stop them. That is a WHOPPING lie.
Biden: “These are the most crippling sanctions. … There’s nothing more they could do than what we’ve done.” Says Israel and US intelligence are at the same place, both admit Iran is a long way from a bomb. They don’t have delivery capability. All this bluster, what more could Obama do?
Ryan: Let’s look at this from the view of the Ayatollah. Iran sees division between US and Israel. He doesn’t mention that there are serious divisions between Netanyahu and his own Israeli defense council.
The idea that the White House would water down sanctions is nonsense. What reason would they even have for doing that? No one has ever claimed this before. Ryan seems to be trying to fight Biden to a draw on this.
Oh brother, Ryan is trying to pin “47%” on Biden, he says that Biden says gaffes, too. The idea that the 47% is a gaffe is ludicrous. It was a speech.
Biden refers to “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” Romney doesn’t care about automotive industry. Says, get out of the way of the jobs bills. They talk about the recession like it fell out of the sky. Biden says Ryan (and House GOP implied) they caused the recession by starting a war and putting it on the credit card.
Ryan changes the subject. Says Obama had one party control. This canard has been floating around lately, but it was only a few months, not the two years like they claim. He’s ignoring special elections.
Biden says Ryan asked for stimulus! Bam!
Biden: this is such a bad program and he writes me a letter saying we need this stimulus because it will create growth and jobs.
Biden asks Ryan to be a little more candid.
Ryan: should we build windmills in China? Huh?
Medicare and Social Security.
Ryan says Obamacare taking from Medicare. Ryan says: he’ll tell you about vouchers to scare you. Uhh, vouchers and being put at the mercy of corporate medical insurance is pretty damn scary. Ryan says Obama created a panel to take money from Medicare. That’s false, that panel is designed to minimize costs, not shuffle costs.
Biden says he has to listen to death panels argument in every Veep debate. Compares Ryan to Sarah Palin.
Biden: We will not privatize Social Security. Biden says what would have happened to Social Security if it had been put on the stock market like Bush and the GOP wanted.
Ryan says: “they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar” about Medicare. What is he referring to?
Ryan refers to democrats who support him, Biden says they don’t.
Biden points out that the Ryan voucher plan will not keep pace with inflation, and thus medical costs will rise.
Moderator points out Ryan was one of the only Congressman who stood with Bush to private Social Security. He says, “for young people.” I think I’m young, and I don’t want my pension on the stock market, Congressman.
Taxes: who will pay more who will pay less.
Biden says middle class will pay less, people making $1 million will start to contribute more.
Biden says we don’t need to continue Bush tax cuts (which, I might add, have never been paid for and are responsible for roughly half of the deficit along with the Iraq war the GOP never paid for).
Biden says GOP wants $5 trillion tax cut for the top 120,000 families.
Ryan says we can’t raise taxes on the wealthy, because it won’t make a difference. As Ryan talks about small business, I wonder if he includes Walmart in his definition of small business. He peddles the lie that Obama spends like crazy. The fact is that Obama has grown the government less than any president since Eisenhower. Reagan and W. Bush spent faaaar more than Clinton did or Obama has.
Biden says small business includes hedge funds. Biden points out that Romney’s capital gains 14% tax rate on $20 million is fair.
Ryan says you can cut rates 20% and pay for everything. Biden says that isn’t mathematically possible.
Ryan claims that the House GOP is trying to be bipartisan. What. A. Crock!
Ryan is saying they won’t increase defense?! Romney has promised to raise defense! He’s contradicting the top of his ticket!
Ryan says cutting our defense “invites weakness.” Yes, I’m so afraid that um… Brazil!… will invade us if we only build 100 F-22As instead of 120. This is really where Ryan exposes his side’s nonsense. They’re going to expand defense and put in a massive tax cut. That is EXACTLY what Bush did and how did that work out for everyone?! We cannot do that again.
Biden: “We’ve decimated al Qaeda central; we eliminated bin Laden.” He says we’ve agreed with allies to build them so we can pull out.
At this point, what good would it do to stay in Afghanistan any longer? The civilian government will either hold or it won’t. We can’t stay there forever.
Ryan says he wants to make the commanders successful. And the Obama White House doesn’t? Ryan is parsing the same hairs here that Bush did in Iraq in 2007 about leaving but without a date.
Ryan trots out an obviously rehearsed slogan: problems around the world are growing but jobs aren’t growing. Both of those are demonstrably false. Terrorist attacks are at the lowest rate around the world in decades and the unemployment rate is down 1.3% from 4 years ago after the second largest economic crisis in a century.
Is Ryan saying we should pull out everyone all at once? Minutes after he said we shouldn’t pull them out? Ugh… he looks like such a snake oil salesmen. He clearly is not a ‘wonk’ on foreign policy.
Ryan looks petulant here talking about seasons, it’s warm, it’s cold.
Biden is nailing Ryan on the east of Afghanistan. Afghans are taking over, fewer Americans in danger. Ryan looks in over his head here.
Biden says Syria would seep into other countries. It could have an impact around the region. We are working together with our allies in the region to ensure a legitimate government. Biden says Romney/Ryan can’t do anything different but put American troops on the ground.
Ryan says we’re giving Putin veto power at the UN. If he doesn’t want us to go in there, does he want us to give weapons to a mosaic of rebels that almost certainly would end up in al Qaeda hands.
Biden makes Ryan look like he doesn’t know what’s going on behind the scenes diplomatically.
Ryan wants us to work with the rebels in Syria. Biden says “the opposition is being armed.”
Ryan says criteria for intervention is strategic interest. Wouldn’t intervene for humanitarian reasons, after accusing Obama of letting civilians die in Syria. How does he square that circle?
Seriously, moderator? We’re going to talk about how they’re both Catholic now?
Biden should go after the loony right social issues on this question. Ryan says Romney will oppose abortion. Romney said a few days ago he wouldn’t take any abortion legislation onto his platform. This clearly refers to the Supreme Court.
Ryan peddles the loony canard that the Church has to sue the government to exercise their rights. The church does not have the right to deny their lay employees basic medicine. And if they were serious about diminishing abortion, they should be gung-ho about contraception.
Ryan says Obama sympathized with China’s forced abortion policy!!!! Wow, that is a whopper!
Biden says Ryan has said in the past that rape victims shouldn’t be allowed an abortion.
Ryan doesn’t refute that one!
Biden raises specter that Romney/Ryan could appoint someone like Scalia on Supreme Court. Biden said picked justices with an open-mind.
Are they embarrassed by the tone of this election?
Biden says only sacred obligation is to equip troops for mission. Embarrass things happen in campaigns, especially since Citizens United. He says Obama will do better lifting up the middle class, and has been smart and careful about engaging overseas.
Ryan says Obamacare is full of taxes. Says Obama just gives speeches.
Biden points out that the House GOP has opposed everything that would help the middle class.
Ryan says the one thing that he can give this country is honesty. Wow, meta-lie! Grow the middle class.
Biden says the middle class grows the country and he holds Wall St. to the same standards as Main St.
Biden whacks R/R on “takers” and “47%”. We just need to give people a shot and level the playing field. We won’t rest until we help the middle class.
Ryan says we face a big choice. What kind of country will we be. More spending, more taxes. Government takeover of health care. Fact: individual mandate is not a ‘government takeover’. Ask the conservative Heritage Foundation which hatched the idea.
Ryan: we have a stagnant economy. Oh really? Maybe no one told him that corporate profits and the stock market are at an all time high.
My concluding thought: that was a great debate. Decades from now, historians will look at this debate as a useful nutshell of the issues that we faced in our times.
They really went after each other. Biden attacked, attacked, attacked and didn’t let Ryan get away with anything. No charge went unanswered and Biden got solid hits in, while smiling and being polite. His experience showed.
Ryan looked a bit smarmy, and made a number of claims that were demonstrably false. He also went after Biden and the president aggressively. Ryan threw a lot of numbers and percentages around and accused the president of weak leadership and raising taxes.
I think on domestic issues, they mostly fought each other to a draw. On economic issues, Ryan may have gained a slight upperhand, because he tossed out more (misleading) statistics, and Biden laughed dismissively one or two too many times.
On foreign policy, though, Joe dominated and made it look easy. Ryan twisted himself into a pretzel trying to simultaneously say the president is weak and R/R would be stronger but wouldn’t do anything qualitatively different. Biden asked him if he wanted another war, Ryan basically said of course not, but said they’d be stronger. That effectively ceded the issue of foreign policy to the Democrats although the GOP has clearly been hatching some empty slogans.
This was a very substantive debate and my hat goes off to the moderator. She egged them on just enough to engage each other meaningfully, kept their feet to the fire and kept them on schedule and on task, while also staying out of the way when it counted. I liken her to a master referee officiating a heavyweight bout. I hope Jim Lehrer was watching.