Less than four weeks before the November 6 election between President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney, the vice presidential candidates had their only debate on some social and political issues.
Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan discussed the problems of the economy, taxes and Medicare. The atmosphere was far from being friendly. During the debate Ryan, sitting on the national debate stage for the first time, ridiculed Joe Biden’s speech.
In Kentucky, Biden and Ryan seemed ready to quarrel from the very opening moments on stage. Nobody was willing to let the other have the final word. They interrupted each other all the time.
And President Obama was cheered by the offensive. “I’m going to make a special point of saying that I thought Joe Biden was terrific tonight,” the president told reporters after stepping off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, on his way back to the White House after a day of campaigning in Florida.
And, on the contrary, Romney called Ryan and congratulated him on his performance. It was a success. After 90 minutes of the initial disagreement over foreign policy, the two men proceeded with a hot debate about reducing federal deficits.
69-year-old Biden brought the video in which Romney had said that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax, view themselves as victims and do not take responsibility for their own lives.
Ryan, 42, was ready to respond. ‘‘This is a man who gave 30 percent of his income to charity, more than the two of us combined,’’ he said of the man at the top of the Republican ticket.
‘‘Mitt Romney’s a good man. He cares about 100 percent of Americans in this country. And with respect to that quote, I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.’’
Also Ryan paid attention to recent economic statistics — 23 million are struggling to work, he said, and 15 percent of the country is living in poverty. ‘‘This is not what a real recovery looks like.’’
Medicare was a burning issue, as well. Ryan criticized Obama’s health care plan, noticing that Obama had diverted $716 billion from the program for seniors and created a new board that could deny care to patients who really need it.
Ryan, a seven-term congressman continued to criticize, saying ‘‘The president likes to say he has a plan, but in fact ‘‘he gave a speech’’ and never backed it up with details”.
And Biden claimed that Republicans indeed had a plan. But he said that if enacted it would have ‘‘eviscerated all the things the middle class care about,’’ including cutting health care programs and education.
Later Biden and Ryan discussed whether abortion should be legal. Biden, a Democrat, believes that abortion should be legal while Ryan opposes it except in the case of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger.
Biden personally agrees with the Catholic Church’s position on abortion. But he did consider it to be right to impose those personal views on other people who may have different religious beliefs.
Though Ryan expressed more conservative views on abortion and said a Romney-Ryan administration would allow abortion under certain circumstances.