Elections
Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin participate in the vice presidential debate at Centre College, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Pool-Rick Wilking) Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin participate in the vice presidential debate at Centre College, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Pool-Rick Wilking)  

GOP, Democrats catalog errors by Biden, Ryan after VP debate

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Advocates on both sides of America’s political divide are touting political flubs and fact-challenged claims supposedly committed by their rivals during the vice presidential debate Thursday night in Danville, Kentucky.

Republicans argued that Joe Biden turned off swing voters with repeated rudeness toward Ryan, by deceiving viewers, and by claiming ignorance about security officials’ pre-attack pleas for better protection of the Benghazi diplomatic facility in Libya.

In turn, Democrats claimed Paul Ryan alienated middle-ground voters by describing and defending his pro-life position, and by suggesting that U.S. forces could be reinforced in Afghanistan.

Ryan “opened the door to putting additional forces in Afghanistan. … It was a remarkable moment for me,” said the vice president’s son, Beau Biden.

Democrats also crowed over Ryan’s opposition to the Supreme Court’s 39-year control over abortion policy, and his endorsement of legislative compromises. “I understand this is a difficult issue … but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother,” Ryan said during the debate.

“I think this may be the voting issue,” MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews claimed afterward.

Democrats also said Ryan’s decision to not explicitly disavow changes to personal income tax deductions for mortgage interest created another vulnerability for Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign.

“Clarifying moment #2. Biden asked Ryan if he’d take mortgage deduction that benefits middle class families off the table? Ryan refused,” said David Simas, a staffer in Obama’s campaign.

But Republicans highlighted Biden’s demeanor, his claim of ignorance about the Benghazi attack and a list of 10 “lie[s].”

“For 90 minutes Vice President Biden laughed and rolled his eyes to try and distract from his inability to defend the last four years and provide a vision for the next four,” said a statement from the Republican National Committee.

The RNC quickly produced an online video highlighting Biden’s demeanor.

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Several establishment-media reporters ultimately backed up the GOP’s charge.

“The smile, the laugh, I think a lot of people maybe view that and think that he was a little too hot, too aggressive, maybe condescending,” said NBC political reporter David Gregory.

GOP advocates also jumped on Biden’s statement about the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11.

“One of the most significant takeaways from the debate was the Vice President’s attempt to mislead the American public about the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi,” said a late-night statement from Ryan Williams, a Romney spokesman.

“We weren’t told they wanted more security,” Biden had said in the debate, only a day after several State Department officials told a House hearing that senior State Department officials rejected multiple requests for extra security.

A group of heavily-armed jihadis attacked the facility Sept. 11. They killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, a civil-service aid and two security officers. After the attack, White House officials insisted the attack came from a Muslim mob angry at a little-seen YouTube video that was critical of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

State Department officials said this week there was no mob, and the jihadis attacked during a peaceful evening.

The RNC also argued that Biden misstated facts during the debate.

“Biden claimed he wanted to be ‘completely accurate’ in the debate, but instead he twisted the facts. … Lie #2: Biden claimed there was no waste or abuse of stimulus money. … Lie #3: Biden claimed the administration saved money from Medicare and put it back in the program,” said the RNC statement.

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