Any momentum Mitt Romney had after the first presidential debate was slammed to the mat by Vice President Joe Biden in his Thursday night debate with Paul Ryan.
This was the performance Republicans have worried was coming once the policies advocated by Romney and Ryan were held accountable, and specifics were asked about how they truly worked.
This heated contest at Centre College in Danville, KY lasted 90-minutes and often was accelerated by Biden.
Last week the incumbent ticket lost ground in polls after Barack Obama’s lackluster performance in the first presidential debate, and Biden came out determined to stop that bleeding by articulating the successes of President Obama, and illuminating the lies told by Romney and Ryan.
Moderator Martha Raddatz did a fantastic job of keeping this conversation moving, controlling the exchanges, asking intuitive follow-up questions, and cooling down both candidates.
Fox News and Republicans, like Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, were all horribly offended by the off-camera smirks and interruptions Biden made, but in actuality they were in response to falsehoods being told by Ryan.
Afterwards Republicans wanted to talk about Biden’s aggressive style – that he was combative and condescending. No questions about the veracity of his comments, and more importantly, no Obama campaign official had to come out and correct untrue claims, like was required by the Romney campaign the previous week.
When all you can do is complain about a candidate’s tone or demeanor, which are non-substantive issues, you lost the debate. Biden controlled this one from start to finish, and was more credible and believable.
“Facts matter,” as Biden said, and he abused Ryan with them on Afghanistan, taxes, Medicare, and abortion.
Biden responded to every claim leveled at him by Ryan with answers substantiated by facts and figures, leaving Ryan nowhere to go.
On foreign policy, Romney and Ryan wanted to appear more hawkish than Obama, but in the end they agree with everything already being done by the current administration in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. This was a non-issue, unless the Republicans advocate the U.S. enter another Middle East war, where additional American lives would be lost.
The discussion on taxes was ugly. Republicans want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, and give an additional $5 trillion cut aimed at the wealthy. This is trickle down economics – giving the rich more breaks in the belief they will invest the money in their businesses, hire more people and increase wages.
It sounds good in theory, but has failed multiple times. Jack Kemp tried it under Reagan and taxes had to be raised to rescue the economy. The current recession is the result of George W. Bush deciding to cut taxes, particularly for the wealthy, and borrowing the costs to fight two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Trickle down is a recipe for failure.
The idea that Romney and Ryan will add $6 trillion in tax cuts, plus another $2 trillion in military spending without increasing the deficit, debt or raising taxes is a fantasy.
Romney wants us to think this 20-percent tax cut across the board will be revenue neutral, but Biden called Ryan out, and the Republican challenger couldn’t explain how he would pay for it or specifically what loopholes in the tax code Romney planned to eliminate.
That is a significant problem.
“Stop talking about how you care about people,” Biden said. “Show me something. Show me a policy where you take responsibility.”
Ryan attempted to criticize Biden on Obama’s stimulus spending that was successful in preventing the U.S. economy from falling into a depression, but Biden turned the tables on Ryan by reminding the congressman that twice Ryan sent letters to the administration requesting stimulus money for Wisconsin.
That was a staggering blow landed cleanly.
One of the most damaging segments came when Ryan was asked to discuss his religion, and abortion in particular. Ryan is militantly pro-life and declared his belief that life starts at conception.
For the sake of the Romney ticket, Ryan expressed that he is against abortion except in incidences where rape, incest or life of the mother is concerned. But when further questioned about expected legislation women might see under a Romney administration, Ryan indicated that he believed the control over the decision for abortion rights should be taken away from the courts and placed in the capable hands of mostly white men who fill the halls of Congress.
On a personal level Ryan believes a woman’s right to get an abortion should be restricted even further than the Romney position. Ryan advocated that how the conception occurred doesn’t matter, so even in cases of rape, incest, or when a mother’s life is on the line, under Paul Ryan that is considered God’s will, and if the baby comes you just deal with it.
That is some scary draconian shit.
This man and his ilk want to outlaw abortion, period.
Meanwhile, Biden was at his populist best. Both these candidates are Catholic, but Biden’s personal beliefs about abortion are maintained within his own household and family – as they should be.
If you don’t believe in the option of an abortion, don’t have one. Practice safe sex, use contraceptives, get married, abstain, pull out, whatever.
But Romney and Ryan are hypocritical when they scream about how it is not right that the Affordable Care Act forces people into health care coverage, when on the other hand they as Republicans want to take the most personal of decisions for a woman and legislate it for them, even though they are men.
Biden, this lunch box politician that came from a middle class upbringing, that has lived the problems many Americans are facing, showed once again he will fight to protect the heart of America by respecting the diversity of opinion in allowing a woman’s right to choose.
Calling out Romney on his vague, unsubstantiated policy proposals isn’t hard. Next Tuesday it will be Obama’s job to hold Romney accountable, and force him to answer in a similar fashion for his hollow candidacy.