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Biden & Ryan Face Off: VP Debate

9:15 AM, Oct 12, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican Paul Ryan is slamming the Obama administration in the vice presidential debate for failing to call the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya a terrorist attack.

WEB EXTRA: Debate analysis from Carl Calabrese and Bruce Fisher 

Vice President Joe Biden is criticizing Ryan and Mitt Romney for launching political attacks before they knew the facts on the ground.

Ryan says the U.S. is witnessing the unraveling of President Barack Obama's foreign policy. He says the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens shows the U.S. is projecting weakness abroad.

Biden says that's, quote, "a bunch of malarkey." He says the U.S. will bring those responsible to justice and ensure any mistakes aren't repeated.

The vice president says Obama has led with a steady hand and clear vision, and that Romney would do the opposite.

Biden says his administration has the toughest sanctions in history on Iran, even as his Republican rival says the White House has no credibility on the issue.

Ryan said that President Barack Obama has allowed Iran to get four years closer to building a nuclear weapon.

Biden said that he is "quite confident" the administration could deal a serious blow to Iranian's nuclear ambitions.

The vice president called Ryan's criticisms of his foreign policy a "bunch of malarkey," but Ryan contended he would stand up for Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also plays a prominent role in the first and only debate between vice presidential candidates.

Ryan accused Biden and President Obama of ignoring Netanyahu and giving Iran the time to forge ahead toward building a nuclear weapon. Biden dismissed him and said Obama's met with "Bibi" dozens of times. Ryan's accusations, Biden said, "is a bunch of stuff," or "malarkey."

Biden said the Iranians don't yet have a nuclear weapon and called any claim to the contrary "loose talk." In a speech to the United Nations last month, Netanyahu said Iran was ready to move to the final stage of making a nuclear weapon.

Biden says Romney's opposition to the auto bailout and government steps to prevent foreclosures "shouldn't be surprising" given his comments about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income tax.

Biden is referring to remarks Romney made to wealthy donors. In a secretly recorded video, Romney said 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims and entitled to government help.

Biden says some of those people are senior citizens show are living off social security.

President Obama never mentioned Romney's comments in his first debate, to the dismay of many Democrats.

Romney has since said his comments were wrong. Biden says if voters believe they were a mistake, he has "a bridge to sell you."

Biden says Paul Ryan and Republicans must take responsibility for obstructing the economic recovery.

Biden says that Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, has stood in the way of making middle-class tax cuts permanent and helping struggling homeowners. He says Ryan and Mitt Romney shouldn't talk about how they care about people until they're ready to pitch in.

Ryan says this isn't what a real recovery looks like. He points out that unemployment in Biden's hometown of Scranton, Pa., is at 10 percent, compared to 8.5 percent when Biden and President Barack Obama took office.

Ryan says Biden and Obama want to raise taxes on small businesses, while he and Romney want to help struggling Americans get good jobs.

The two candidates are also clashing over their plans for Medicare and Social Security, government programs for seniors.

Often appearing exasperated by Ryan, Biden says he and President Barack Obama would never sign onto the sort of voucher program proposed by Ryan and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Ryan fired back that the Republican plan would give seniors more choice in their medical care.

Romney's plan would introduce undetermined subsidies to help future retirees buy private insurance or join a government plan modeled on traditional Medicare. Obama's health care law cuts Medicare spending for hospitals and other providers by more than $700 billion over a decade. Those cuts are being used to provide health insurance to more working-age Americans.

Republican Paul Ryan says there aren't enough rich Americans to tax to pay for all of President Barack Obama's spending.

Ryan tells viewers of the vice presidential debate, quote, "Watch out, middle class. The tax bill is coming to you."

Ryan says he and Mitt Romney want to give Congress a framework for taxes that involves lowering rates by 20 percent. He says he guarantees that can be paid for by closing loopholes, mostly on the upper class. But he isn't saying which loopholes he'd close.

Vice President Joe Biden says the only way to pay for Romney's plan is to raise middle-class taxes. He says Republicans insist on needless tax cuts for the rich and are holding hostage middle-class tax cuts that Obama wants to make permanent.

Vice President Joe Biden says it's up to Afghanistan to take responsibility for its own security.

Republican rival Paul Ryan said he doesn't want the United States to lose the gains achieved in its decade-long war there following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Both Biden and Ryan conveyed at Thursday's vice presidential debate that it's time to wind down U.S. involvement. Ryan said he agrees with President Barack Obama in transitioning out of the country by 2014, but said the White House should not announce a deadline for withdrawal and expose weakness.

Both men were responding to a question about why American troops shouldn't just leave Afghanistan immediately.

The vice presidential hopefuls say their Catholic faith informs their public policy decisions, but they come down on different sides of the abortion debate.

Biden said his Catholicism teaches that life begins at conception but that he would not impose that belief on people of other faiths. Ryan, the running mate of GOP challenger Mitt Romney, said he opposes abortion but that the policy of a Romney administration would include exceptions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake.

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