Thursday, October 11, 2012

Live-blogging the vice-presidential debate of 2012

[Added: Here's the transcript.]

I'll be live-blogging the only vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan here, starting at 9:00 Eastern tonight.

Keep reloading this post for more updates.

You can watch the debate online on or YouTube.

As always, I'll be doing writing down quotes on the fly without the aid of a transcript or pause/rewind button, so they won't necessarily be verbatim but I'll try to keep them as close to accurate  possible.

Feel free to comment on the debate in the comments.

9:03 - They're sitting down. That might produce a calmer vibe than in the last debate.

9:04 - Biden promises "to find and bring to justice the men" who killed Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

9:05 - Biden says that Obama on day 1 made it a top priority to get Osama bin Laden, whereas Romney said during his previous campaign that he "wouldn't move Heaven and Earth" to kill bin Laden. "It was about more than taking a murderer off the battlefield. It was about restoring America's heart, and sending a message to terrorists."

9:06 - Ryan says that "if we're hit by terrorists, we'll call it what it is." Instead, the Obama administration "blamed the YouTube video" for the killing of Stevens. Ryan thanks veterans, turning to Biden and extending the thanks to his son Beau.

9:08 - While Ryan keeps giving his long answer about the attacks, Biden rudely mutters over him: "Do I get to say anything?" Once it's Biden's turn, he says, "With all due respect, that's malarkey. Because none of what he said was accurate."

9:11 - Biden says that Romney's decision to hold a press conference about the Libya attacks was "not presidential leadership." Is Romney not allowed to say anything about a foreign-policy crisis during his campaign just because he's a challenger? That doesn't seem fair.

9:14 - Ryan says a Romney administration, in contrast with the Obama administration, "will have credibility" on sanctions against Iran. Biden: "Incredible! . . . These are the most crippling sanctions in history, period. Period."

9:15 - Biden rhetorically asks if Ryan wants to start a war with Iran. Ryan interjects: "We want to prevent war!" Biden asks what more Romney/Ryan would want Obama to do on Iran, "unless they want us to go to war."

9:19 - Ryan's main debate tactic on Iran seems to be repeating the word "credibility."

9:20 - The moderator, Martha Raddatz, says Biden is "making it sound like [Iran doesn't] want a nuclear weapon." Biden says no, but "facts matter," and they're still far from being able to make a weapon.

9:22 - Ryan is stumbling over his words a lot, e.g. saying "desperation" when he means "daylight."

9:22 - Ryan warns of Iran getting a nuclear weapon, which would set off "a nuclear arms race in the Middle East."

9:23 - Biden on Iran: "We've made it clear . . . This president doesn't bluff."

9:24 - Biden paraphrases Romney: "47% of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives." He mentions that Romney himself pays relatively low taxes, and points out that Romney's "47%" includes veterans and elderly people on Social Security.

9:25 - Biden says Romney/Ryan are "holding middle-class tax cuts hostage" in order to cut taxes for the very wealthiest Americans. He's clearly putting into practice what many people felt President Obama should have done last week.

9:27 - Ryan repeats Romney's defense of tax cuts for the rich, which is that those taxes apply to small businesses, which create jobs. Why couldn't they amend the tax code with enough precision to give a break to those small businesses, without cutting everyone's personal income taxes?

9:30 - The debate has been pretty somber. Biden brings up the car accident that killed his first wife and daughter.

9:31 - Ryan focuses on something I don't remember hearing about at all in the previous debate: the fact that there was single-party Democratic control of Congress and the White House for the first half of Obama's term. "They had the opportunity to do whatever they wanted. Look where they are right now." He points out how much higher unemployment is than the administration projections.

9:34 - Ryan gives a passionate, personal defense of "entitlements" — Medicare and Social Security — describing how they helped his mother and grandmother to be successful. He and his mom collected Social Security benefits after his dad died, and this allowed her to go to college and start a business.

9:37 - Biden says Ryan supported the Bush administration's plan to privatize Social Security. "Imagine where all those seniors would be now if their money were in the market."

9:38 - Ryan: "They got cut with their hands in the cookie jar, turning Medicare into a piggy bank for Obamacare."

9:39 - Ryan: "I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we didn't keep interrupting each other." True. [Added: here's the video:]

9:42 - Ryan says Biden has "nothing to run on," so he's painting his opponent as "something to run from." Ryan says Biden is wrong to call their Medicare plan a "voucher" system.

9:47 - Ryan: "There aren't enough rich people and small businesses to pay for all their [Obama/Biden's] spending. So when they say it's time for the wealthy to pay their 'fair share' — watch out, middle class, they're coming for you!" [Added later: this was a brilliant tactic of inverting Obama's argument from the first debate that the math of Romney's tax plan doesn't add up, and the middle class will end up getting stuck with the bill.]

9:50 - The moderator asks why Romney/Ryan aren't giving the specifics of their tax plan. After Ryan answers, the moderator sums up: "Still no specifics."

9:51 - Raddatz should be more aggressive about stopping Biden from constantly interrupting Ryan.

9:53 -There's an extremely busy back-and-forth between Biden and Ryan over what kinds of taxes and tax deductions Romney would cut.

9:55 - Ryan accuses Obama of trying to cut the Navy to its smallest size since World War I.

9:59 - Biden says Romney's position on withdrawing from Afghanistan is: "It depends." "It does not 'depend' for us."

10:01 - Ryan on Afghanistan: "What we're seeing when we turn on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy."

10:04 - Biden on Afghanistan: "The only way to make 'em step up is to say: 'Fellas, we're leavin'. Step up.'"

10:05 - Ramesh Ponnuru asks: "Are normal people still watching this?" He also made a good point back in the section on taxes:

The Democrats could have permanently extended the middle class tax cuts in 2009-10 if they really wanted to.
10:12 - I'm not following the discussion of Syria, and I wonder if it's really going to affect anyone's vote.

10:14 - Ryan is asked about his criteria for military intervention in any country. "Only when it is in our national-security interest."

10:15 - Ryan, asked about abortion, says: "I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life — or from their faith. . . . I believe that life begins at conception. . . . The policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother." [I originally didn't catch whether or not he included the mother's "health" as an exception. Based on the transcript, he didn't.]

10:17 - Ryan says Democrats used to say abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare," in Bill Clinton's famous words. "Now, they support it without restriction, and with taxpayer funding."

10:18 - Biden says he's personally opposed to abortion based on his Catholicism, but "I refuse to impose that on equally devout Christians, Muslims, and Jews."

10:25 - Ryan says Obama won't show us a "credible plan" to prevent the debt crisis. (Again, he emphasizes credibility.) What we get from the administration is "speeches, not leadership." He's trying to hoist Obama on his own petard (they won't show us their plan).

10:27 - More disorienting crosstalk from Ryan and Biden. Raddatz: "Let me calm this down." She asks what each of them could bring to the country that no one else could. Ryan smartly rejects the premise that no one else could bring what he would.

10:30 - Biden, in his closing statement: "You probably sense my frustration with their attitude toward the American people. My friend [Ryan] says 30% of the American people are 'takers.'" He repeats Romney's 47% line. "They're talking about my mother and father."

10:30 - Ryan thanks the moderator, the college hosting the debate, and "you, Joe. It's been an honor." Unless I missed it, I think Biden thanked only the moderator and the college, not Ryan.

10:32 - "Mitt Romney and I want to earn your support." He pauses and says the word "earn" very emphatically, as if to say: Obama and Biden didn't earn it.

10:40 - The debate is over. I was so wrong in my prediction that the debate would be relatively calm because they're sitting down. Here are two live-blog updates from my mom, Ann Althouse (an hour earlier than here):
8:51: The stress level is rising. Biden is so angry. Why is he yelling? Ryan needs nerves of steel not to lose his cool. I'm impressed that Ryan, when he gets his turn, is able to speak in an even, natural voice. It's hard to concentrate on the policy itself, because the emotional static is so strong.

9:11: Biden has been yelling at Martha Raddatz for the last 15 minutes (as the subject is war). It's so inappropriate!
Based on Jonah Goldberg's Twitter feed, where he's been retweeting other people including other National Review editors, it seems like conservatives weren't very happy with Ryan's performance. Jeffrey Goldberg says:
Biden right now is talking to people, Ryan is talking to members of the House budget committee.
Jonah Goldberg also says:
If Biden was advised to be angry at everything he doesn't find hysterical, he's executing perfectly.
So, Biden was too rude and aggressive, while Obama, by his own admission, was too polite and not aggressive enough last week. Maybe after Obama's campaign puts him through debate "study hall," he'll finally get it just right.


Unknown said...

The moderator is terrible. America has no humanitarian interest in foreign policy concerns, nor should we. America is not a charity. I cannot believe that she asked that question.

American foreign policy is not about humanitarianism. It is about our national interest.

q12345q6789 said...

Joe Biden has gone into the late night soft talking drunk mode while talking about abortion. I feel like somebody in the hall signaled to Joe to Calm it Down.

rcommal said...

Paul Ryan, vice-president candidate, ended up reminding me of Joe Biden, when he was running in the primaries for president back in the '80s. Joe Biden, incumbent vice-president candidate, ended up reminding me why the rehearsed Biden is so much worse than the unrehearsed one (I'm actually a sincere appreciator of that latter one, whether I'm agreeing with him or not, approving of his intent or not, in that mode, on any particular point).

Color me all the way around as notably underwhelmed, unimpressed and annoyed by this debate and by both participants in it, to make short work/summary of it.

LilyBart said...

Thanks for live blogging. Interesting to read your view.

(came over from Althouse blog to check your thoughts)