2012 VICE-PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
Thursday 11 October 2012
Location: Norton Center for the Arts: Centre College-- Danville, Kentucky
Subject: various Foreign Policy and Domestic issues
(this being the only Vice-Presidential Debate of this election campaign)
Friday, October 12, 2012
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
2012 VICE-PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
Thursday 11 October 2012
Location: Norton Center for the Arts: Centre College-- Danville, Kentucky
Subject: various Foreign Policy and Domestic issues (this being the only Vice-Presidential Debate of this election campaign)
Moderator: Martha Raddatz, ABC [the American Broadcasting Company] News Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Format: moderator asking a "lead question" in each of 9 approximately 10-minute segments; 2 minute response by the candidate to whom the question is directed (the candidate to whom the question is directed is determined by coin toss [which Vice President Biden won: he elected to go first]), each subsequent "lead question" alternates between the candidates as regards who answers it first), followed by a 2 minute response by the other candidate; an "open discussion"- controlled by the Moderator- takes up the remainder of each of the 9 segments. Debate to last no longer than 90 minutes all told.
Scoring for 'The Green Papers' by RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON TheGreenPapers.com Staff
Explanation of the SCORING SYSTEM used by 'The Green Papers' for the 2012 Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates
Round 1: One month ago tonight- on the anniversary of 9/11- Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The State Department has now made clear there were no protesters there: it was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure?
Vice-President Biden took this question first. "What it was was a tragedy", he began. "And I can make absolutely two commitments to you and all the American People tonight: One, we will find- and bring justice to- the men who did this and, secondly, we will get to the bottom of it... wherever the facts lead us- wherever they lead us- we will make clear to the American public because whatever mistakes were made will not be made again". Later in his answer, Biden turned to the issue of the killing of Osama bin Laden: "I was sitting with [the President] in the Oval Office: he called in the CIA and signed an order saying 'my highest priority is to get bin Laden. Prior to the election, prior to [the President] being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked a question about how he would proceed: he said 'I wouldn't move Heaven and Earth to get bin Laden'; he didn't understand it was more than about taking a murderer off the battlefield: it was about restoring America's heart and letting terrorists around the world know, if you do harm to America, we will track you to the gates of Hell, if need be!"
For his part, Congressman Ryan said: "We mourn the loss of these four Americans who were murdered. When you take a look at what has happened just in the last few weeks, they sent the UN Ambassador out to say that this was because of a protest and a YouTube video: it took the President two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack... Look, if we are hit by terrorists, we're going to call it for what it is: a terrorist attack!... This is becoming more troubling by the day: they first blamed the YouTube video, now they're trying to blame the Romney-Ryan Ticket for making this an issue... This Benghazi issue would be a tragedy in and of itself but, unfortunately, it is indicative of a broader problem and that is: what we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama Foreign Policy which is making the World more chaotic and less safe".
After noting that the Obama Administration had "disavowed their own statement that they had put out earlier in the day in Cairo", Ryan declared that "it's never too early to speak out for our values" and then chided the Administrating for "call[ing] Bashar [al-]Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people. We should always stand up for peace, for democracy, for individual rights... when we equivocate on our values, when we show that we're cutting our own defense budget, it makes us more weak: it projects weakness and, when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us, they're more brazen in their attacks--"
"With all due respect", Biden interrupted at this point, "that's a bunch of malarkey... because not a single thing he said is accurate... This talk about this 'weakness', I don't understand what my friend is talking about here! This is a President who has gone out and done everything he said he was going to do; this is the guy who's repaired our alliances so the rest of the World follows us again... I mean: these guys bet against America all the time!"
The moderator then asked: "Why were people talking about protests?... Why did that go on for weeks?"-- to which the Vice President responded: "Because that's exactly what we were told by the intelligence community... As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment... and, as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view: that's why I said we will get to the bottom of this... usually when there's a crisis, we pull together- we pull together as a Nation- but... even before we knew what happened to the Ambassador, the Governor [Romney] was holding a press conference: that's not presidential leadership!"
After Ryan was asked if the United States should apologize for urinating on Taliban corpses (to which he answered "Oh gosh- yes!" [although he, at the same time, ducked whether or not just such a response also applied to the burning- however accidental- of copies of the Qur'an]), the Congressman opined that "what we should not be apologizing for are standing up for our values". Bringing the focus back around to Libya (the original thrust of he question for this 'Round'), Ryan noted "There were requests for extra security: those requests were not honored. Look, this was the anniversary of 9/11: it was Libya, a country we knew had al-Qa'eda cells there."
Scoring: Biden started off well by noting what the Administration would do (indeed, is doing) in response to what had happened in Libya a month earlier but then turned this into a more generalized criticism of the Romney/Ryan Foreign Policy positions re: the Middle East. Ryan parried Biden's original "thrust" as regarded Libya but then he, too, got involved in a rather platitudinous attack of his own (for instance, decrying "the unraveling of the Obama Foreign Policy" without the specificity Biden himself had brought to his own such attack on Romney/Ryan). But it was Biden's spirited defense of his chief (combined with Ryan's less compelling response to the issue of "apologies") that won the Vice President this Round, although Ryan saved himself from a worse loss by at least bringing the whole segment back to its original subject matter: Biden 10, Ryan 9.
Round 2: Both President Obama and Governor Romney have said they will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, even if that means military action. Last week former Defense Secretary Bob Gates said a strike on Iranís facilities would not work and "could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations". Can the two of you be absolutely clear and specific to the American people how effective would a military strike be?
Congressman Ryan answered this one first: "We cannot allow Iran to get a nuclear weapons capability... When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material- nuclear material- to make one bomb: now they have enough for five. They're racing towards a nuclear weapon!... Mitt Romney proposed these sanctions in 2007; in Congress, I've been fighting for these sanctions since 2009: the Administration was blocking us every step of the way. Only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough sanctions were we able to overrule their objections and put them in in spite of the Administration... and talk about 'credibility'! When this Administration says that all options are on the table, they send out senior Administration officials that send all these mixed signals."
"Incredible!", Biden exclaimed while chuckling when his turn came to answer this one. "Imagine we had let the Republican Congress work out the sanctions: you think there is any possibility the entire World would have joined us?-- Russia and China, all of our allies? These are the most crippling of sanctions in the history of sanctions- period!... you're talking about doing more: what are you-- you're going to go to war? Is that what you want to do now?"
Ryan interrupted at this point: "We want to prevent war!"
Biden continued: "How are they going to prevent war if they say that there's nothing more that we should do than we've already done- number one? And- number two- with regard to the ability of the United States to take action militarily... we feel quite confident we could deal a serious blow to the Iranians... how close the Iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon: they are a good way away... There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point: both the Israelis and we know we'll know if they start the process of building a weapon. So what's all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk-- what are they talking about?!... What more can the President do? Stand before the United Nations, tell the whole world, directly communicate to the Ayatollah 'we will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon- period'-- unless he's talking about going to war!"
Ryan responded: "Let's look at this from the view of the ayatollahs: what do they see? They see this Administration trying to water down sanctions in Congress for over two years... They see President Obama in New York City the same day Bibi Netanyahu is and, instead of meeting with him, goes on a daily talk show... They are not changing their mind: that's what we have to do- is change their mind so they stop pursuing nuclear weapons".
Biden himself responded to this: "Let me tell you what the Ayatollah sees: the Ayatollah sees his economy being crippled; the Ayatollah sees that there are 50% fewer exports of oil-- he sees the currency going into the tank; he sees the economy going into free fall and he sees the World, for the first time, totally united in opposition to him getting a nuclear weapon. Now- with regard to Bibi- he's been my friend for 39 years. The President has met with Bibi a dozen times: he's spoken to Bibi Netanyahu as much as he's spoken to anybody... just before he went into the UN, I was in a conference call with the President- with him talking to Bibi- for well over an hour in stark relief and detail about what was going on!... Let's all calm down a little bit here: Iran is more isolated today than when we took office- it was on the ascendancy when we took office. It is totally isolated- I don't know what world you guys are in!"
Ryan now chimed in: "Thank heavens we have those sanctions in place! It's in spite of their opposition! They have given 20 waivers to this sanction and all I have to point to are the results: they are four years closer toward a nuclear weapon. I think that case speaks for itself!"
"No", the Vice President insisted, "they are not four years closer to a nuclear weapon; they're closer to being able to get enough fissile material to put in a weapon if they had a weapon... Facts matter: all this loose talk about them- 'all they have to do is get to enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon': not true, not true!... and, if we ever have to take action- unlike when we took office- we will have the World behind us and that matters- that matters!"
Ryan retorted: "The ayatollahs see these kinds of statements and they think 'I'm going to get a nuclear weapon'... This is the World's largest sponsor of Terrorism: they've dedicated themselves to wiping an entire country off the map; they call us the Great Satan and, if they get nuclear weapons, other people in the neighborhood will pursue their nuclear weapons as well."
Biden responded: "War should always be the absolute last resort... and we've made it clear: big nations can't bluff- this President doesn't bluff!"
Scoring: Biden would have won this Round in any event, as its subject matter itself well points to an innate problem with many- if not most- of Romney/Ryan's Foreign Policy arguments: what would the Republican National Ticket do, if elected, that is inherently different from that which the Obama Administration is already doing? Biden's suggestion that- pretty much- the only option the Administration has not taken is War itself was, indeed, quite difficult for Ryan to well parry (that is: if he still wished to commit a potential Romney/Ryan to Peace re: Iran), yet the Vice President undermined what could have been an even bigger win here by his having had to acknowledge that Iran has, in fact, acquired more fissile material despite the sanctions-- meanwhile, Ryan's own somewhat simplistic notion of "changing the ayatollahs' mind(s)" (while Biden's own admission shows that minds are not being changed) kept the Congressman from taking advantage of this last, however (so long as he kept insisting that Romney/Ryan was not in favor of war with Iran): Biden 10, Ryan 9.
Round 3: The number one issue here at home is jobs: the percentage of unemployed just fell below 8% for the first time in 43 months; the Obama Administration had projected that it would fall below 6% now after the addition of close to a trillion dollars in stimulus money. Can you get unemployment to under 6% and how long will it take?
Biden answered: "I don't know how long it will take. We can, and we will, get it under 6%... Let's look at where we were when we came to office: the Economy was in free fall... we knew we had to act for the Middle Class: we immediately went out and rescued General Motors... and, when that occurred, 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'. But it shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47% of the American People are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. My friend [Ryan] recently, in a speech in Washington, said 30% of the American People are 'takers'. These people are my mom and dad, the people I grew up with- my neighbors: they pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his Federal income tax!"
Ryan responded: "Joe and I are from similar towns... you know what the Unemployment Rate in Scranton [Biden's birthplace] is today? 10%. You know what it was the day you guys came in? 8.5%! That's how it's going all around America... we're going in the wrong direction! Look at where we are: the Economy is barely limping along. It's growing at 1.3%- that's slower than it grew last year and last year was slower than the year before! Job growth in September was slower than it was in August and August was slower than it was in July... this is not what a real recovery looks like: we need real reforms for a real recovery!"
Biden retorted, in part: "I have never met two people who are more down on America across the board. We're told everything is going bad: we have 5.2 million new jobs, private sector jobs. We need more, but 5.2 million!... if they'd get out of the way and let us pass the tax cut for the Middle Class- make it permanent; if they'd get out of the way and pass the jobs bill... just get out of the way! Stop talking about how you care about people: show me something, show me a policy... And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession as if it fell out of the sky- like 'oh my goodness: where did it come from?'... And now, all of a sudden, these guys are so seized with concern about the debt that they created!"
Ryan himself retorted:"Let's not forget they came in with one-Party control: when Barack Obama was elected, his Party controlled everything- they had the ability to do everything of their choosing and look at where we are right now!... They said that, right now, if we just pass this stimulus, the Economy would grow at 4%- it's growing at 1.3!"
Biden then noted that Congressman Ryan had asked for stimulus money for companies in his own Wisconsin: "We sent millions of dollars"-- to which Ryan replied "On two occasions, we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants: that's what we do"- to which Biden chuckled and said "I love that- I love that!"
Scoring: Ryan won this Round for much the same reason Governor Romney ended up winning the First Presidential Debate (at least by my Scoring System!): no Economic Statistics- even those indicating Growth- are going to, overall, be all that good for Obama and Biden. But the Vice President held his own here (especially in that exchange about Ryan getting money from the stimulus he himself decries for his own Congressional District). Ryan 10, Biden 9.
Round 4: Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive?
Congressman Ryan answered first: "Absolutely! Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt: these are indisputable facts!... if you reform these programs for my generation- people 54 and below- you can guarantee they don't change for people in or near retirement, which is precisely what Mitt Romney and I are proposing. Look at what 'Obamacare' does: 'Obamacare' takes $716 billion from Medicare to spend on 'Obamacare'... and then they put this new 'Obamacare' board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors!"
Biden retorted: "You know, I heard that 'death panel' argument from Sarah Palin: it seems that, every Vice-Presidential Debate, I hear this kind of stuff about panels!... What we did is we saved $716 billion and put it back- applied it to- Medicare: we cut the cost of Medicare! We stopped overpaying insurance companies... and it extends the life of Medicare to 2024. They want to wipe this all out. It also gave more benefits. Any senior out there- ask yourself: do you have more benefits today? You do... They wipe all of this out and Medicare becomes insolvent in 2016."
Ryan responded: "Here's the problem: they got caught with their hands in the 'cookie jar' turning Medicare into a 'piggy bank' for 'Obamacare'... Ten thousand people are retiring every single day in America today and they will for twenty years: that's not a political thing- that's a math thing!"
Biden, in turn, opined that "if they allow Medicare to bargain for the cost of drugs like Medicaid can, that would save $156 billion right off the bat!"
Ryan interrupted: "And it would deny seniors choices!"
Biden retorted: "Seniors are not denied... Look, folks, and all you seniors out there: have you been denied choices?"
Ryan jumped in again: "Because it's working well right now", to which Biden himself jumped in: "Because we changed the law!"
Ryan later noted that "Barack Obama- four years ago, running for President- said 'if you don't have any fresh ideas, use stale tactics to scare voters; if you don't have a good record to run on, paint your opponent as someone to run from: make a big election about small ideas'".
Biden later declaimed that "The idea of changing- and change being, in this case, to cut the benefits for people without taking other action you could do to make it work- is absolutely the wrong way. Look, these guys haven't been big on Medicare from the beginning: their Party's not been big on Medicare from the beginning and they've always been about Social Security: as little as you can do. Look, folks, use your common sense: who do you trust on this?"
Ryan came back: "This is what politicians do when they don't have a record to run on: try to scare people from voting for you"
Scoring: A tough one to so score and, therefore, a very close one. Any discussion about what will- or won't- be solvent- or not- and when is highly speculative, even over the short term, because it cannot take into account those inevitable variables the future will almost certainly thrust upon the whole endeavor and, in any event, it very much reminds me of what my Dad- whose career was that of a commercial loan officer in a bank- used to often complain about when it came to economic statistics in general: "When a man has his head in the refrigerator and his feet in the oven, on average he feels just fine!" (to which I would usually intone "All things being equal- which they almost never are!"). There is, however, much merit in trying to figure out how best to save something before doing away with it almost altogether! Ryan's point about the "bubble" of retirees amongst the 'Baby Boomers' is well taken but he, nonetheless, lost this Round more due to his carping about 'scare tactics' than re: Biden having anything approaching a better defense of the Administration's own position. Biden 10, Ryan 9.
Round 5: If your ticket is elected, who will pay more in taxes? Who will pay less?
Vice President Biden answered this one first: "The Middle Class will pay less and people making a million dollars or more will begin to contribute slightly more... We want to extend permanently the Middle Class tax cut... The Middle Class got knocked on their heels: the Great Recession crushed them; they need some help now".
Congressman Ryan responded: "Look, if you taxed every person in a successful small business making over $250,000 at 100%, it'd only run the Government for 98 days: if everybody who paid income tax last year- including successful small businesses- doubled their income taxes this year, we'd still have a $300 billion deficit. You see: there aren't enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending-- and so, the next time you hear them say 'don't worry about it- we'll get a few wealthy people to pay their fair share', watch out Middle Class! The tax bill is coming to you!"
When asked about the apparent lack of specificity in the Romney/Ryan plan for a 20% across the board tax cut, Ryan replied: "Look what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did: they worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base and they worked together to fix that."
Biden retorted: "I was there when Ronald Reagan tax breaks- I mean, he gave specifics of what he was going to cut!"
Ryan: "You can cut tax rates by 20% and still preserve those important preferences for Middle Class taxpayers".
Biden (interrupting): "Not mathematically possible!"
Ryan: "It is mathematically possible- it's been done before: it's precisely what we're proposing!"
Biden: "It has never been done before!"
Ryan: "Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth..."
Biden: "Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy!"
(Laughter among the audience at this allusion to Lloyd Bentsen's famous retort to Dan Quayle in the 1988 Vice-Presidential Debate)
Ryan: "Republicans and Democrats have worked together on this".
Biden: "But we told each other what we were going to do: when we did this with Reagan, he said 'Here! Here are the things we're going to cut'. That's what he said!'
Ryan: "We can agree on a framework: let's work together to fill in the details. That's how you get things done: you work with Congress... Mitt Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, where 87% of the legislators he served with were Democrats. He didn't demonize them- he didn't demagogue them: he met with those Party leaders every week. He reached across the aisle- he didn't compromise principles: he found common ground and balanced the budget four times without raising taxes."
Biden: "If he did such a great job in Massachusetts, why isn't he even contesting Massachusetts?"
Scoring: This Round included the closest thing we've had in a long time to what I myself described in my 11 October 2012 piece as having occurred in the early history of these Vice-Presidential Debates and- like those other similar incidents- this probably will not serve the National Ticket of antagonist (Vice President Biden, in this case) all that well. But Ryan still lost this Round because I would think that the "Bell Curve" voter would like at least a little more 'meat' on what is otherwise the mere 'bones' of just such a Romney/Ryan across-the-board tax cut proposal; Biden's citing his own experience as a United States Senator during the so-called 'Reagan Revolution' some three decades ago served him well in refuting Ryan's methodology of dealing with the proverbial "devil in the details". Interestingly- had it not been for this exchange- Ryan might well have, instead, won this Round because, once again, the economic statistics the Congressman had cited early on (in this case re: Taxation) were not at all in Obama/Biden's favor. Biden 10, Ryan 9.
Round 6: On Afghanistan-- we've reached the recruiting goal for Afghan forces; we've degraded al-Qa'eda. So why not leave now? What more can we really accomplish? Is it worth more American lives?
Congressman Ryan answered: "We don't want to lose the gains we've gotten: we want to make sure that the Taliban does not come back and give al-Qa'eda a safe haven... We've been skeptical about negotiations with the Taliban, especially while they're shooting at us... we want to make sure our commanders have what they need".
Vice President Biden responded: "Let's keep our eye on the ball... The fact is: we went there for one reason- to get those people who killed Americans: al-Qa'eda. We've decimated al-Qa'eda Central; we've eliminated Osama bin Laden: that was our purpose... It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security: we have trained over 315,000- mostly without incident: there have been more than two dozen cases of 'green on blue' where Americans have been killed. If the measures the military has taken do not hold, we will not go on joint patrols, we will not train in the field: we'll only train in the army bases that exist there. But we are leaving: we are leaving in 2014- period!"
Ryan retorted: "You know- if it was just this, I feel that we would be able to call this a success: but it's not. What we are witnessing- as we turn on our television screens these days- is the absolute unraveling of the Obama Foreign Policy. Problems are growing abroad but jobs aren't growing here at home... We don't want to broadcast to our enemies, put a date on your calendar, wait us out and don't come back... What we do not want to do is give our allies reason to trust us less... we don't want to embolden our enemies."
Biden came back: "That's a bizarre statement since... 49 of our allies said 'out in 2014'. It's the responsibility of the Afghans: we have other responsibilities... Unless you set a timeline, Baghdad in the case of Iraq and Kabul in the case of Afghanistan will not step up: they're happy to let us do the job, international security forces to do the job. The only way they step up is we say 'Fellas, we're leaving! We've trained you: step up!' "
Ryan later declaimed that "we drew 22,000 troops down last month but the remaining troops that are there- who still have the same mission to prosecute: counterinsurgency- are doing it with fewer people. That makes them less safe!".
Biden interrupted: "Because we turned it over to the Afghan troops we trained! No one got pulled out that didn't get filled in by trained Afghan personnel!"
"They're still fighting us", Ryan noted. "They [the Taliban] are still coming over the passes... but we are sending fewer people to the front to fight them- and that is not safe".
"That's right!", Biden interrupted. "Because that's the Afghan responsibility: we've trained them!... You'd rather Americans be going in and doing the job?"
Ryan replied: "We're already sending Americans to do the job- but fewer of them: that's the point!"
Biden responded: "That's right! We're sending in more Afghans to do the job-- Afghans to do the job!"
Scoring: Once again- if only in the realm of Foreign Policy- Congressman Ryan seemed at least somewhat "out of his League" (the exchange about the trust of our allies re: Afghanistan, in the main, more favored Obama/Biden) and Ryan's non sequitur of 'Problems Growing Abroad, No Job Growth Here' might well make for a great bumper sticker but it didn't at all win him this Round. Biden 10, Ryan 9.
Round 7: In March of last year, President Obama explained the military action taken in Libya by saying it was in the national interest to go in and prevent further massacres from occurring there. So why doesn't the same logic apply in Syria?
Vice President Biden answered: "It's a different country... [Libya has] 1/5 the population, five times as large geographically... [re: Syria] You're in a country that is heavily populated in the midst of the most dangerous area in the World and if, in fact, it blows up and the wrong people gain control, it's going to have impact on the entire region... And all this loose talk of my friend, Governor Romney, and the Congressman about how we could do so much more in there, what more would they do than put American boots on the ground? The last thing America needs is to get into another ground war in the Middle East!"
Congressman Ryan responded: "Nobody is proposing sending troops to Syria- American troops... How would we do things differently?... We wouldn't be outsourcing our Foreign Policy to the United Nations, giving Vladimir Putin veto power over our efforts to try and deal with this issue... We gave Russia veto power over our efforts through the UN and, meanwhile, about thirty thousand Syrians are dead!"
Biden asked: "What would my friend do differently? If you notice, he never answers the question!... You don't go through the UN!... Our allies were all on the same page- NATO as well as our Arab allies- in terms of trying to get a settlement: that was their idea. We're the ones that said 'Enough!' ".
Asked about what would happen if the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad doesn't fall, Ryan answered: "Then Iran keeps its greatest ally in the region. He's a sponsor of Terrorism: he'll probably continue slaughtering his people-- we and the World Community will lose our credibility on this... What we should have done earlier is work with those freedom fighters, those dissidents, in Syria: we should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer and we should not have waited for Russia to give us the green light at the UN to do something about it!... Each situation will come up with its own set of circumstances but putting American troops on the ground? That's got to be within the National Security interests of the American People. That means things like embargoes and sanctions and overflights- those are things that don't put American troops on the ground."
Scoring: Here, as in 'Round 2' earlier, the essential problem re: putting forth Romney/Ryan positions on Foreign Policy (especially in the Middle East) rears its ugliest head: one, once again, brought to the fore by Biden's pointed question 'What would you do differently?' In addition, Ryan's concern with the credibility of "the World Community" seemed rather disconnected from his notion of Foreign Policy having been "outsourc[ed].. to the United Nations", a point further drummed home by Biden's own referring to "NATO as well as our Arab allies". All of this points to a potential minefield for Governor Romney himself come the final Presidential Debate (which is supposed to be all about Foreign Policy) a week and a half from now but, for now, this Round merely goes Biden 10, Ryan 9.
Round 8: This debate is, indeed, historic: we have two Catholic candidates, first time on a stage such as this. What role has your religion played in your own personal views on Abortion?
Congressman Ryan answered: "I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith: our faith informs us in everything we do... I believe that life begins at conception... those are the reasons why I'm pro-Life. Now, I understand this is a difficult issue and I respect people who don't agree with me on this but the policy of a Romney Administration will be to oppose Abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother."
For his own part, Vice President Biden said: "My religion defines who I am and I've been a practicing Catholic all my life and it has particularly informed my social doctrine... I accept my church's position on Abortion... Life begins at conception: that's the Church's judgement; I accept it in my personal life- but I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews: I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here- the Congressman".
Scoring: This one is most difficult to score, as each man has clearly thought most deeply about their respective positions- both in relation to their personal morality, as well as in relation to their respective Oaths of Office. There is simply no way to declare a winner of this Round as, no matter what, one would then have to be judging the policy position itself and there is also no way to apply the "tiebreaker" (already utilized, if only to some extent, earlier in this Debate) of answering the question as to which candidate's position more negatively might play within the "sensible Center" at the core of that "Bell Curve" of the electorate each National Ticket is now most trying to attract. Despite "10 Point Must", I here must not give either candidate 10 points (the reader who might disagree with me can always award 1 more point re: the FINAL SCORE to the winner he or she might perceive within this Round should he or she so wish!) Biden 9, Ryan 9.
Round 9: A highly decorated soldier has said that this presidential campaign has left him dismayed: "the ads are so negative and they are all tearing down each other, rather than building up the country". What would you say to that American hero about this campaign and- at the end of the day- are you ever embarrassed by the tone?
Vice President Biden answered first: "We only have one truly sacred obligation as a Government: that's to equip those we send into harm's way and care for those who come home... everything else falls behind that... This dedicated soldier... fought for his country: that should be honored; he should not be thrown into a category of the 47% who don't pay their taxes while he was out there fighting and not having to pay taxes and, somehow, not taking responsibility... There are things that have occurred in this campaign- and occur in every campaign- that I'm sure both of us regret anyone having said, particularly in these special new groups that can go out there, raise all the money they want, not have to identify themselves and say the most scurrilous things about the other candidate-- it's an abomination!"
Congressman Ryan responded: "You have a President who ran for President four years ago promising 'Hope' and 'Change' who has now turned his campaign into 'Attack, Blame and Defame'... Look at all the string of broken promises... A debt crisis is coming: we can't keep spending and borrowing like this- we can't just keep spending money we don't have. Leaders run to problems to fix problems: President Obama has not even put a credible plan on the table in any of his four years to deal with this debt crisis... We've got to tackle this debt crisis before it tackles us!"
Scoring: This Round is Biden's, but only because he- unlike Ryan- actually answered the question (although neither candidate began by directly answering the question and the Vice President was rather disingenuous in his throwing in a "47%-based" attack on Romney/Ryan before declaring those outside the campaigns engaged in what is euphemistically referred to as 'Opposition Research' "an abomination", considering that the video of Governor Romney's now-infamous "47%" remarks was the very product of such 'Opposition Research'! In essence, then, the Vice President only wins this Round by default). Biden 10, Ryan 9.
It is the position of 'The Green Papers' that any Opening and Closing Statements at these Debates, being largely repetitions of the messages of each candidate's campaign and not at all responses to "off the cuff" questions for which the candidates cannot prepare in advance, are not really part of the Debate itself. Thus, the Closing Statements from each candidate are not included herein and do not factor into the
FINAL SCORE: Vice President Biden-88; Congressman Ryan-82