Note: I was unable to connect to the internet during the debate, so this was done and timestamped in a Word file, then uploaded with links added after the fact. I realize actual live-blogging would have all this happening at once.
A transcript for the debate can be found here. This live blogging was done as part of a class assignment, and I do not represent any new agency.
Pre-Debate: Seems that Paul Ryan’s team has negotiated for him to be addressed at “Mr. Ryan” during the debate, rather than “Congressman Ryan.” Interesting little factoid. Does he really want to be disconnected from Congress that badly?
9pm: Debate begins! First thing that viewers at home notice–the size of each candidate’s flag pin. First question from Ms. Raddatz is about Libya. She asks Biden if the attack one month ago was a massive intelligence failure.
Biden answers, “I can make absolutely two commitments to you and all the American people tonight. One, we will find and bring to justice the men who did this. And secondly, we will get to the bottom of it, and whatever, 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.”
9:05pm: Mr. Ryan gets an opportunity to comment. “What we are witnessing is the unravelling of Obama foreign policy.” Ryan alludes to other military operations–Iraq, and pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014. When he gets to the tragedy in Benghazi, “We should have spoken out right away when the green revolution was up and starting; when the mullahs in Iran were attacking their people….We should always stand up for peace, for democracy, for individual rights.”
9:09pm: First chuckle of the night goes to Biden: “With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey.”
9:12: Should U.S. apologize for burning Korans and urinating on corpses? Ryan: “Yes, we should apologize for that … we should not apologize for our values.”
9:14pm: Regarding Iran–Ryan calls Iran “brazen,” moving faster toward nuclear weapon because of watered-down U.S. sanctions. Romney/Ryan administration would have credibility. Ryan puts a lot of importance in the credibility of the administration.
Biden’s response: “Most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions. … do you want to go to war?” Ryan responds that the goal is to prevent war. Biden continues, “And the interesting thing is, how are they going to prevent war? How are they going to prevent war if they say there’s nothing more that we — that they say we should do than what we’ve already done, number one.” From Biden’s remarks, it seems that he puts very little faith in the long-term effects of sanctions.
9:18pm: Raddatz asks Ryan if the Romney/Ryan ticket wins if some of these problems can be fixed by spring. Ryan seems to think that it can be done, but spring may be unrealistic. Meanwhile the cameraman must be having a good time as we keep getting cuts of Biden looking like he’s about to take flight.
Blogger’s note: This debate is getting more interesting as Biden begins to snicker, laugh, shake his head, and interrupt Ryan. Ryan calls Biden out on his interruptions.
9:20pm: Biden indicates that Iran can’t actually make nuclear weapons so we all just need to relax. Apparently they are only in need of uranium. Biden assures us that we won’t let Iran make nuclear weapons.
Ryan retorts: suggests that a nuclear-armed Middle East isn’t good for anyone and that Biden is being too flippant on the matter.
9:25pm: Raddatz seems to get a little impatient and switches subjects. Now she asks candidates to “level with the American people.” She wants to know if they can get unemployment to under 6%.
Biden: Apparently he’s tired of the “notion of the 47%.” Blames current economic problems on the previous administration saying that he and Obama “inherited” them. Points out that Obama saved GM, gave the middle class tax cuts, assisted on foreclosures, all while Romney was advocating letting Detroit go bankrupt. (Paints a picture of Romney as Nero watching Rome burn.)
9:27pm: Ryan tries to connect with Biden: unemployment rates for Scranton up to 10% from the 8.4% it was four years ago. Ryan makes everyone chuckle, saying “Mitt Romney’s a car guy.” Then gets a jab in at Biden for words coming out the wrong way.
9:31pm: It seems that Biden doesn’t play well with others. He appears to be recommending that Republicans just get out of the way so that the Democrats can make appropriate tax cuts. No sense of bipartisanship–or kindergarten-level compromising.
9:32pm: Ryan fires back with attacks on Obama administration for backing and funding a failed stimulus. Biden calls him out on requesting stimulus money, which Ryan shrugs off. Seems that’s part of his job as a Congressman.
9:37pm: Ryan starts talking about Medicare and Social Security. Hot topics for a lot of Americans. He tells an anecdotal story about his mom relying on federal help to get her feet on the ground, go back to college, and start a small business. Biden counters by saying that the Romney/Ryan proposal will cost Americans more money, not help them.
9:40pm: Ryan states that Obama got caught with his “hand in the cookie jar,” referring to using money from Medicare for Obamacare. At this point there’s a lot of back and forth between Ryan and Biden. Raddatz asks about raising the age for Medicare. Ryan starts talking about vouchers, the power of the market, failing social security, and clearly not the aging population.
Raddatz redirects asking who will pay more taxes if elected.
9:47pm: Biden is quick to answer: “The middle class will pay less and those over a million will pay higher taxes.” He says that Romney/Ryan are holding middle class tax cuts hostage.
9:52pm: Both candidates start arguing math. Biden references loopholes and math not adding up. Ryan suggests there aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to make much of an impact on the deficit. Upon referencing Kennedy, Biden cuts in, “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy.” Rousing laughter from everyone involved.
9:56pm: Ryan begins talking about downsizing military. Points out that the Navy will be at its smallest size ever. Raddatz asks about leaving Afghanistan. Ryan talks about a trip he took to Middle East and how he is amazed at what troops go through daily.
10:01pm: Biden promises troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2014, saving the US $800 billion. Ryan counters that while we want troops home, we shouldn’t advertise when we’re leaving and we should leave when it’s ok to leave, not on a timeline.
10:10pm: Ryan starts talking about bringing surge troops home. He paints a picture of how the fighting works, “fighting season” due to the mountains and the snow and how we need to bring troops home before fighting season. The downside is that the troops who are left in Afghanistan have the same missive to carry out–with less manpower.
10:12pm: Biden calls “my friend” out on not answering questions properly (he’s referring to Ryan, apparently they are best friends these days).
10:13pm: Raddatz asks what will happen if Assad doesn’t fall. Ryan says that we lose credibility while Iran keeps its allies.
10:14pm: Raddatz wants to know what the criteria for intervention in foreign nations is. Ryan’s answer seems straightforward: when it’s in the national interest of the US.
10:15pm: Now we get down to business. Raddatz very clearly informs viewers who may not know that both VP candidates are Catholic, and asks their opinions on abortion. Ryan says he doesn’t know how a person can total separate public and private life. Tells story about his daughter appearing on a sonogram as a bean–nickname she still has.
Biden holds true to Catholic faith and roots. He holds with the church’s decision on abortion, but says he won’t force his beliefs on others of differing religions (does that mean he will enforce other Catholics?). He also won’t force his beliefs on women–they should control their own bodies.
10:21pm: Ryan comes back saying that life begins at conception. No matter how conception happens, a life is a life (referring to rape and incest).
10:24pm: Raddatz turns the debate to ad campaigns and their negative tone (with a question about a soldier being embarrassed about ads; how do the candidates feel?). Biden has a nice sidestep, saying that many campaigns can be offensive. He also says a government has one objective: keep soldiers safe and bring them home.
Ryan counters that he would just thank the soldier and let them know that he won’t cut military. Refers to Obama campaign ads as “blame and defame.”
10:25pm: Ryan calls out Obama and Biden for putting two wars on credit cards. He says that all the financial “plans” Obama has are really just speeches, and no one can give him a budget plan. Keeps being passed on to press secretaries and speech writers.
10:27pm: Last question from Raddatz: “What can you give this country that no other human being can?”
Ryan: Short answer–solutions to problems. Currently Democrats aren’t cutting it.
Biden: Leveling the playing field. He feels his record speaks for itself.
10:28pm: Closing statements–
Biden: (Thanks everyone.) He and Obama inherited really bad circumstances, and the American people are in trouble.
Ryan: Says Obama had his chance, and four years haven’t gotten us anywhere. Says that America deserves better than poverty and unemployment. (Aside: He’s got the doe-eyes down pat.) Romney has skills to get the job done, and Americans should support him. Closes with “the choice is clear and rests with you, we ask for your vote.”
Blogger’s comments: At the end of this debate, my head kind of hurts, and I don’t know who is the clear winner. As a voter, I don’t think either candidate really answered questions that they were asked. No one seems to have come out with a winning performance. If I had to guess, I’d say that Biden seems to have performed better–more natural, more to the point. His laughing and hand-flailing detracted from that some. Ryan seemed a little too rehearsed. Sometimes it felt like he was just saying a monologue. I will be interested to see how others report this debate!