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Biden wrestles with Ryan at VP debate   2012-10-12 16:02:44

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday wrestled aggressively with his Republican challenger Paul Ryan over the only vice presidential debate, trying to win back the Obama campaign's momentum waned by President Barack Obama in the first presidential debate last week.

The two locked horns at Center College in Danville, Kentucky, over the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya's Benghazi immediately after their debate began.

Picking up the Romney campaign's usual tone, Ryan slammed the weakness of the Obama administration on foreign policy, saying it took two weeks for Obama to declare the Libya incident as a terror attack.

Biden hit back, saying the image of a softer stance on foreign affairs that the opponents had been trying to describe of the Obama administration was "a bunch of malarkey."

He criticized the Romney-Ryan ticket for making political statements even before they got to know more facts about the incident, which left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others killed.

On the Iranian issue, Ryan attacked the Obama administration for leaving more time to Iran to build a nuclear weapon. "When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material -- nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five... They're four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability," said Ryan.

Biden defended that his administration has imposed on Iran "the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions."

Although the two debaters were seriously divided on the Iranian issue, they found a junction in Afghanistan. Both of them agreed on pulling out the U.S. troops by the year 2014. But Ryan also chided Obama that he should not announce a deadline for withdrawal.

As to Syria, Ryan criticized the inaction of the Obama administration, saying the country's foreign policy on Syria was in the light of the United Nations.

Biden explained that the last thing that his country needs is another ground war in the Middle East, adding if the Republicans want to send troops to Syria they should just say so.

The two clashed over how the country has been winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tried to sharpen contrast on national security and defense budget cutting.

Ryan refused to impose defense cuts, saying: "When we show that we are cutting down on defense, it makes us weaker. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us."

The debate has been moved back and forth between foreign affairs and domestic issues which include unemployment, health care and abortion.

Ryan bashed that the U.S. economy is heading toward the wrong direction, saying job growth in September was slower than it was in August despite the lowest 7.8-percent read since 2009.

The vice president said his administration acted for the middle class and immediately rescued General Motors. He satirized Romney by saying: "What did Romney do? Romney said, 'No, let Detroit go bankrupt.' We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said 'No, let foreclosures hit the bottom.'"

The two were also tangled in medicare. "It will not keep pace with health care costs. Because if it did keep pace with health care costs, there would be no savings," Biden said. "We will be no part of a voucher program or the privatization of Social Security."

Ryan said Democrats had not put a credible solution to the fiscal problems for medicare. "He will say all these things to try and scare people."

Both the two have tried to bring up issues which they had strong history in.

The 69-year-old vice president, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees, tried to highlight the Romney-Ryan ticket's lack of international experience during the debate.

The 42-year-old Ryan, a seven-term congressman and chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, is a leading figure outlining the Republican party's budget plan.

"It should not be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives," said Biden during the debate, referring Romney's secretly recorded remarks that 47 percent of Americans relied on the government.

Obama has been criticized by Democrats for failing to hit on the "47 percent" remarks during his first face-off with Romney on Oct. 3.

Thursday's vice presidential debate will not decide the outcome of the November showdown but still matters in this close election.

Vice presidential debates traditionally do not carry the same influence as presidential debates in elections. But stakes have been raised for both campaigns over the 90-minute debate on Thursday evening.

After Obama's lackluster performance in the first presidential debate with Romney last week, Biden is under pressure to do well in this debate. Polls showed Romney has obliterated Obama's lead nationally with his stellar performance.

For Romney's side, another win could help the Romney-Ryan ticket hold the momentum heading into the Nov. 6 showdown.

Viewers were split on who was more popular at the debate. According to a CBS News survey of undecided voters, Biden won by 50 percent to 31 percent, while a CNN poll of debate watchers scored Ryan the victor by 48 percent to 44 percent.


source : Xinhua     editor:: Ma Ting
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