Vice president, Republican vice presidential candidate share opposing viewpoints during debate
Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan went head-to-head on Oct. 11 to discuss their views on foreign and domestic policy.
ABC News chief foreign correspondent Martha Raddatz moderated the heated debate between Biden and Ryan, the running mate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, at Centre College in Danville, Ky.
The two politicians had opposing opinions in regards to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11 where four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Biden pledged a two-fold commitment to avenge the killings.
“One, we will find and bring to justice the men who did this,” he said. “And secondly, we will get to the bottom of it and … wherever the facts lead us … we will make clear to the American public because whatever mistakes were made will not be made again.”
Media outlets have reported that prior to the attacks, Stevens had requested for more security.
Biden said that the intelligence community did not inform the Obama administration of these requests.
“We did not know they wanted more security again,” he said. “And by the way, at the time we were told exactly, we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew.”
Ryan said that President Barack Obama’s handling of the situation was poor, stating that the president blamed the attacks on an anti-Islam Youtube video instead of admitting that terrorists were behind the slaying of four respected Americans.
“It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack,” Ryan said. “He went to the U.N. and in his speech at the U.N. … he talked about the YouTube video.”
He said that Obama’s statement was indicative of his inability to handle foreign policies.
“[What] we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy which is making the world more chaotic and us less safe,” Ryan said.
Biden and Ryan had a heated disagreement on whether Iran should be allowed to have nuclear weapons.
“We cannot allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons capability,” Ryan said. “They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.”
Ryan blamed the current administration for what he believes is Iran obtaining nuclear technology at alarming pace.
“They’re moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. It’s because this administration has no credibility on this issue,” Ryan said. “It’s because this administration watered down sanctions, delayed sanctions [and] tried to stop us from putting the tough sanctions in place.”
Biden disagreed and said that the sanctions the U.S. has placed on Iran will hold.
“These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions,” he said.
The vice president insisted that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons.
“Iran is more isolated today than when we took office,” Biden said. “It was on the ascendancy when we took office. It is totally isolated.”
On the issue of unemployment, both individuals said that they could lower the approximate 8 percent unemployment rate to 6 percent, but had different plans for doing so.
Ryan said that under Romney’s five-point plan, the U.S. economy will undergo a rapid recovery.
Romney plans to make the U.S. energy independent, ensure Americans have the skills needed to get a job, control the deficit and national debt, export more American goods and champion small businesses.
“We want to get people out of poverty, in the middle class, onto lives of self-sufficiency,” Ryan said. “We believe in opportunity and upward mobility.”
But Biden accused the Romney-Ryan campaign of advocating for a free market that would lead to the government letting businesses go bankrupt and millions of Americans losing their jobs.
He said that he and the president have prevented a worse economic outcome by bailing out General Motors and cutting taxes for the middle class.
“Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something,” he said. “Show me a policy. Show me a policy where you take responsibility.”
Ryan asserted that under Romney, the economy would grow at 4 percent and 12 million jobs would be created in the next four years.
Ryan and Biden also squared off on Medicare and Social Security, each accusing the other of stripping Americans of their entitlements.
Ryan said that once younger people become eligible for Medicare, they should have a chance to choose their own health care plan wherein Medicare would subsidize their premiums.
“We would rather have 50 million future seniors determine how their Medicare is delivered to them instead of 15 bureaucrats deciding … when they get it,” he said.
Ryan said that the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” would only harm Americans.
“Look what Obamacare does,” he said. “Obamacare takes $716 billion from Medicare to spend on Obamacare.”
Biden said that in fact, Obama’s administration “applied” $716 billion to Medicare, cutting the cost of the health care plan and extending the program to 2024.
He said that the Romney-Ryan health care plan would lead to seniors paying an additional $6,400 a year for Medicare through a “voucher.”
“Their ideas are old, and their ideas are bad, and they would eliminate the guarantee of Medicare,” Biden said.
The debate also touched on the War in Afghanistan with Biden insisting that American troops should be brought home by 2014 because the mission of eliminating Osama bin Laden and weakening al-Queda forces is almost complete.
“It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security,” Biden said.
“We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion,” he said. “We’ve been in this war for over a decade.”
But Ryan said that while he and Romney agree that American troops should leave Afghanistan by 2014, the U.S. should remain wary of the threat of terrorism.
“We want to make sure that 2014 is successful,” he said. “That’s why we want to make sure that we give our commanders what they say they need to make it successful. We don’t want to extend beyond 2014.”
The two candidates, both of whom are Catholics, also spoke about their views on abortion.
The Catholic Church is against abortion, teaching that life begins at conception.
Ryan said that he is pro-life because he is in agreement with the Catholic principle, but said that Romney does have exceptions on the issue.
“The policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with the exception for rape, incest and life of the mother,” Ryan said.
He said that under the Affordable Care Act, Catholic institution funds will go toward paying for abortions.
Biden said that although he is also pro-life, women should have a right to choose.
“I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that women … can’t control their body,” he said.
Biden asserted that no religious institution will have to pay for contraception.
For closing remarks, Biden promised that he and Obama will be advocates for the middle class if re-elected for a second term.
“The president and I are not going to rest until that playing field is leveled,” Biden said. “[That the middle class] have a clear shot and they have peace of mind.”
Ryan said that the Obama administration has failed to fulfill their promise of change, instead causing a “stagnant economy” and forcing a “government takeover” of health care.
“We will take responsibility and we will not try to replace our founding principles,” Ryan said. “We will re-apply our founding principles.”
The next presidential debate will occur on Oct. 16. Obama and Romney will debate foreign and domestic policy.