U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan exchanged heated words in their only debate Thursday night, with polls claiming both sides won the verbal battle.
According to a CBS insta-poll of 500 uncommitted voters, Biden beat Ryan 50 – 31, and 19-percent called the debate a tie. A CNBC online poll initially had Biden losing to Ryan by 20 points, a result quickly picked up by conservative media outlets like Breitbart. But as of this writing, Biden is edging out Ryan in the vote.
A third poll conducted by CNN showed 48-percent said Ryan won, while 44-percent said Biden was the victor. This result is within the poll’s margin of error.
The debate was dominated by an incredibly defensive Biden, who violently argued his points and refuted Ryan’s arguments. When Ryan would make his case on issues on the economy and foreign policy, the vice president would tilt his head back and broadly smile, showing this very white teeth to the audience. He would then break out into exasperated laughs in response to what Ryan said. While discussing Medicare, Biden looked directly at the camera and addressed senior citizens, telling them the Republicans were going to destroy the entitlement system.
Ryan, who appeared cool and unfazed, told moderator Martha Radditz that his opponent had no platform to argue on, and was resorting to demonizing because of it.
Debate watchers and pundits frowned on the vice president’s constant smiling and laughing during the contest, reports Politico. In an op-ed, the UK Daily Mail blasted Biden’s debate performance as “both comical and self-defeating,” and compared it to fellow Democrat Al Gore’s disastrous debates in 2000.
The Mail also claimed Biden lied on what the Obama administration knew about the terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. Four Americans, including the ambassador, were killed in the assault.
In claiming the administration did not know the embassy requested additional security, Biden directly contradicted two State Department officials, who testified that the department knew of the need for more protection.
Perhaps the best remark of the night came when Vice President Biden brought up Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remark. Taking advantage of Biden’s penchant for gaffes, Ryan responded by saying, “I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.”
Still, Ryan could not come up with direct answers to specific questions asked by the moderator. For example, when asked what Romney/Ryan would do in Syria if they got into office, Ryan could only nitpick at what Obama/Biden had already done on the issue.
Ryan also failed to hit Biden when he said the real problem with Iran is not the level of uranium they can enrich, but whether or not the Islamic republic could get a weapon to equip it with. Iran not only has close ties with Russia, China and the rogue nuclear nations Pakistan and North Korea, they successfully tested long- and short-range missiles back in 2009. Iran also announced at that time that it could strike Israel with a missile.
On the abortion issue, conservative pundit Steve Malzberg noted that Ryan was “weak” on what should have been a winning argument.
“Needed to say that Obama is radical on this issue,” Malzberg wrote. “That majority of Americans say they are pro-life. That Obama favors late term AKA partial birth abortion, something a small minority of Americans favor and that Obama voted against keeping babies born of botched abortions alive.”
FOX News analyst Charles Krauthammer broke down who won on the media it was viewed on. “If you read the transcript, it was a tie, if you heard it on radio, Biden won, and if you saw it on television, Ryan won,” he said.
The center-left New York Daily News wrote in an op-ed that Biden “offered virtually nothing as to the future throughout a contentious conversation indelibly marked by the vice president’s often smirking, often scoffing attitude.
“He was hot and dismissive, even to the point of offputting arrogance, his facial expressions and tone aimed clearly at conveying disdain for the Republican ticket, whether the topic was tax policy, the unemployment rate or the Middle East.”
The paper wrote that Ryan “was cooler and more cerebral in presenting the Romney brief. He showed a composed command of facts and held his own pretty much throughout, fairly well answering Biden’s attempts to undermine the credibility of the Romney program but falling shorter than he surely would have liked in dissecting the Obama record.
“While lacking the gravitas and emotional punch that well served Romney, he looked forward more than Biden did.”