Who Won the Debate: Why Joe Biden is the Clear Winner of the VP Debate 2012

On Thursday night, Vice President Joe Biden faced Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) in the first and only vice presidential debate before the election. The nationally televised debate took place from 9-10:30 p.m. (ET) at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and covered both foreign and domestic topics, giving each candidate an opportunity to articulate their ticket’s vision for America. The vice presidential debate had high entertainment value, bringing together the gaffe-prone Democratic incumbent, Joe Biden, and conservative policy wonk, Congressman Ryan.

Read the live blogging coverage of the debate below. 

10:32pm: Debate ends. Biden won. Ryan caught in traps on Syria, Afghanistan, and "math" of the Romney/Ryan budget. 

10:31pm: Ryan's closing statement. 

Ryan says the choice for Americans is between job creator and job destroyer. Says Romney will take responsibility and not duck the issues. Last sentence: "The choice is clear and the choice rests with you." 

Closing statement very rehearsed on Ryan's part, but clearer than Biden's. 

10:29pm: Biden's closing statement.

Biden says what makes him most frustrated is the Republican party taking shots at the middle class and vulnerable. Biden says he "wants playing field leveled" and wants "everything to be okay" for Americans going forward.

Biden's closing statement seems a bit off the cuff. 

10:28pm: 


10:27pm: Biden reminds voters who started the wars and economic crisis. 

10:26pm: Ryan's last answer reminds people about Obama's many promises but failure to deliver. 

10:25pm: Ryan says if you don't have anything in your track record to claim, you start to blaim. "Leaders run to problems to fix problems." Says Obama is doing nothing to create plans, only giving speeches.  

10:24pm: Biden says there have been things said which are unfortunate. Blaims Super PACs in part. 

10:20pm: Raddatz turns conversation to the "nastiness" of this campaign. 

10:16pm: Biden on his Catholic values: takes social care of the needy very seriously and accepts Catholic teaching about abortion for himself, but doesn't think government should impose these values. 

10:15pm: Ryan talks about right to life *with exception,* a major difference from what we were hearing during the Convention. August 21, from NPR:


10:15pm: Debate turns to Catholic values. 


10:14pm: Raddatz asks what Romney/Ryan's policy is for intervention and presses on humanitarian cases. Ryan says it has to be in America's interest ALWAYS to put boots on the ground. 

This clearly differs from the rhetoric of Ryan earlier talking about the emotional/humanitarian aspects of the Syrian civil war. 

10:13pm: Raddatz pushes Ryan on clearly articulating what Romney/Ryan would do differently in Syria. 

Ryan stumbles...agrees with Obama's red line. 

10:12pm: Ryan says Romney/Ryan would not put boots on the ground and would not work through the UN as he claims Obama/Biden have done. 

10:08pm: Raddatz: Why not do more in Syria as was done in Libya? Biden says it's a different country with a different context. He challenges Ryan to say that Romney/Ryan would put boots on the ground.

9:57pm: Raddatz: Why not leave Afghanistan now? Biden answers that a deadline is set and the administration is commited to having a stronger Afghanistan. Ryan says he and Romney are hesitant to set a deadline the enemies would know. 

9:57pm: 


9:55pm: "Math" questions by Raddatz now turn to the cuts to the military Romney/Ryan propose. 

9:54pm: A very lively, entertaining, and even joke-filled debate tonight!

9:52pm: Ryan just said an example of closing $5T worth of loopholes for his tax cut can be seen in the track record of Jack Kennedy. "Oh now you're a fan of Jack Kennedy!"-Biden

9:49pm: Raddatz just trapped Ryan, asks him to be clear how a 20% across the board tax cut could be paid for, with specifics. 

Ryan says he would find bi-partisan support. [Hahahaha, is that a joke?]

9:48pm: Ryan just said the Obama tax plan will raise taxes on the middle class, but factcheck.org disagrees.

9:47pm: 


9:46pm: Biden: Bush tax cuts should expire and permanently extend the middle class tax cut. 

9:45pm: On to taxes, Raddatz: "If your ticket is elected, who will pay more in taxes and who will pay less?"

9:43pm: According to Biden, $2600 to $4700 less in Social Security benefits with the Romney/Ryan plan. Calls on Americans to use their common sense when making these decisions. 

9:40pm: 


9:39pm: Ryan calls the voucher program bi-partisan. Biden says all Democrats have rejected it. 

Biden is on the attack, interrupting, and letting no "lies" pass him by. 

9:38pm:


9:36pm: Ryan says Biden is going to try to scare people by talking about vouchers with Medicare. Ryan thinks business is better than government panels for medical decisions. 


9:34pm: Raddatz turns debate now to Social Security. Raddatz is doing a good job of keeping the debate under control and moving forward. 

9:31pm: Biden says Ryan wrote two letters requesting foreign stimulus money for his state of Wisconsin. 

Biden to Ryan: "By the way, any letter you send me, I'll entertain."

9:30pm: Biden: Show me a policy that shows you care about the poor. 


9:28pm: Ryan tells touching story about Romney, "the man who gave 30% to charity." Tells story about Romney paying for someone's college education. 

ZINGER from Ryan. Says Biden more than anyone should know that sometimes things don't come out the right way (in reference to the 47%).

9:26pm: Ryan asks Biden if he knows what the unemployment rate is in Scranton: 10%. Ryan says the economy's growth is limping. Says we are headed in the wrong direction. Talks about Romney's 5 point plan for economic recovery. 

9:26pm: Biden at his most animated talking about the economy and the middle class. 

9:25pm: Debate turns to the economy. Biden cites the 47%. Driiinnnkkk. 

9:22pm: Raddatz: What's worse, another war or a nuclear armed Iran? Ryan answers nuclear armed Iran. Biden says war should be last option considered, but may happen if necessary. 


9:18pm: Ryan didn't get caught by the war trap. Says the red line's timeline is negotiable. 

Biden talks about his friend Bibi, says Obama talked to him for over an hour before UN General Assembly. 

Biden says everyone needs to calm down a little since there is no bomb yet. 

9:16pm: Biden: Sanctions would not have passed with Republican leadership. 

Obama has said: We will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon. How much more clear can you be without saying you'll go to war? 

Conversation turns to Ryan. Will he be caught by the war trap?

9:15pm: No apologies for values...sure, I'll apologize for urination. 


9:13pm: Focus moves away from Libya to Iran. Raddatz asks how effective a military strike can be. Ryan: we cannot allow Iran to make a nuclear weapon. He avoids the question about how effective a military strike would be. 

9:10pm: Biden: "We weren't told they wanted more security there." Assures audience "we will get to the bottom of this." Criticizes Romney for not uniting America during the time of crisis and instead politicizing the event. 

9:10pm: Raddatz: "What were you first told about the attacks?"

9:08pm: Biden smiled throughout Ryan's answer about Libya and national security and then says it was all lies. "These guys bet against America all the time."

9:07pm: Ryan thanks Biden's son Beau for his service to the country, but says the Obama foreign policy is making us less safe. 

9:06pm: Ryan says it took too long to call Libya a terrorist attack. "If we are hit by terrorists, we are going to call it what it is...shouldn't we have a marine attachment guarding our ambassador (in Libya)."

9:05pm: Biden turns to broader foreign policy outside of Libya. Says Obama has a steady hand and clear vision. The last thing we need now is another war. 

9:02pm: Biden to answer first question. Seated at horseshoe table. Raddatz begins with Libya after vowing to go back and forth between foreign and domestic policy. "Was Libya a massive intelligence failure?"

Biden: we will find who did this and find out what mistakes were made. These mistakes won't be made again. 

9pm: It's time! Watch live here: 


8:57pm: There is no doubt Ryan is going to focus his attacks on Obama instead of Biden, but where will Biden focus his criticism? Ryan has a robust track record with plenty of conservative ideas for Biden to point to, but Romney is the top of the ticket. In only minutes, we will know!

8:55pm: If body language and facial expression are everything:


8:49pm: Tonight would be a lot more fun if the debate comimssion let each candidate choose an entrance song like is done in boxing. Biden's song: "We're Not Going to Take It" by Twisted Sister. 

8:47pm: Ezra Klein of Washington Post is predicting Ryan is going to try too hard to be something he is not and thus, not appeal to voters. 

8:40pm: 20 minutes until the debate begins! Do you have your drink ready for the PolicyMic VP Debate drinking game? If the VP candidates' words start slurring for you, I'll do my best to help out. Get ready bailout, PBS, and Ayn Rand!

8:38pm:  From Washington Post, new data shows Romney is gaining in battleground states, but not enough to win

"On average [in the past week], Romney gained 2.1 points in battleground state polls, even though he picked up an average of 5.5 points in the 11 national surveys conducted after the first presidential debate. Given Obama’s pre-debate leads in the key battleground states, a 2.1 point gain would leave Romney well short of 270 electoral votes."

8:35pm: 


8:31pm: Larry Summers likens the Republican economic policy to an icecream and hamburger binge:

"It’s easy to say that 'My plan is to eat ice cream sundaes and chocolate cake and hamburgers as much as I want, my plan is to lose 60 pounds, and my plan is to avoid painful exercise, and those are all my objectives and I'm committed to every one of them...'"

8:27pm: Stephanie Cutter on MSNBC says the Romney/Ryan team have no new ideas for foreign policy. This week, Romney tried to clarify his FP platform in a speech, and last week he wrote about it for the WSJ.  Tonight's debate is supposed to cover foreign policy, but with both tickets proposing similar policies abroad, I predict much more focus on domestic issues. 

8:19pm: Timothy Stanley at CNN has predicted Ryan will win based on 3 factors: Ryan is younger, Biden is likely to blunder, and Ryan/Romney have momentum. Do you think they've got it right? Make your predictions in the comments section. 

8:04pm: This just in, predictions from ABC News' tarrot card readers. Paul Ryan to win tonight's debate with 70% confidence. Big Bird will not make another appearance. Education will be the leading subject of the VP debate. 

6:05pm: 


5:15pm: The latest polls show Romney and Obama in a dead heat going into tonight's VP debate. 


4:30pm: Biden arrives to Danville for the debate and tells reporters he's not going to "rope-a-dope" tonight.

"Rope-a-dope" is a boxing term coined by Mohammad Ali during his "Rumble in the Jungle" fight against George Forman. Ali let Forman pummel him until Forman became exhausted, and then "roped-a-dope," knocking Forman out and winning the fight. 

4:05pm: The Republicans' latest attempt to appeal to women voters.


3:50pm: A reminder of what happened last time Biden faced a VP challenger (courtesy of SNL). 


What to expect?

The Format: The 90 minute debate will cover foreign affairs and domestic policy topics, giving each candidate 2 minutes to answer questions. Unlike last Wednesday’s presidential debate where both candidates stood behind podiums on a stage, in this debate, both candidates will be seated at a table, giving a more casual atmosphere to the discussion.

The Moderator: The debate will be moderated by Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs correspondent from ABC News. Despite an outstanding record as a well-respected journalist with extensive foreign experience, the choice of moderator has recently drawn criticism after the revelation that Obama attended Raddatz’s 1991 wedding and later appointed her husband, Julius Genachowski as head of the Federal Communications Commission. While representatives of the debate commission have stated that Raddatz was thoroughly vetted and there is no reason to be concerned about her objectivity, the recent criticism may lead her to ask especially hard questions of VP Biden to defend her nonpartisanship.

From Joe Biden: Joe Biden is likely to be the aggressor in Thursday’s debate after the overly-passive performance by President Obama last week. This role should come easily to the VP who has felt comfortable attacking his opponents nationwide on the campaign trail. Ryan has said he is expecting Biden to come at him “like a cannonball” during the night’s debate.

While Biden is prone to gaffes, he will be careful to leave the foul language and culturally insensitive remarks at home to avoid criticism from the left. But he won’t leave his charisma and sense of humor behind, bringing life to a debate that could otherwise bore audiences with gritty policy details.

From Paul Ryan: Paul Ryan was only 2 years old when Joe Biden was first sworn in as senator of Pennsylvania, but he won’t let youth get in his way on Thursday. Even though he is much less experienced in debating, his youthful appeal, intelligence, and charm have already wowed supporters nationwide.

Ryan will need to be careful to demonstrate his impressive knowledge of policy while speaking in simplified and digestible terms that the American public can relate to. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem for him though as aides have said he has meticulously prepared to know the issues and speak convincingly.

No matter who wins, the debate is sure to be lively and entertaining. PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.

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Danielle Gram

Danielle is a graduate of Harvard College where she earned an AB in Religion and Sociology. After graduating in 2011, she traveled in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as a Sheldon Fellow, exploring issues arising from conflict and crisis. Danielle is the cofounder of the international nonprofit, Kids for Peace (www.kidsforpeaceglobal.org). Her main PolicyMic interests include foreign affairs, domestic politics, and geopolitical strategy.

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