Both Sides Claim Debate Victory; Libya in Focus

Posted October 12th, 2012 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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The White House and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are each claiming victory for their side in Thursday's vice presidential debate.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday that Vice President Joe Biden was “forceful” and “compelling” as he took on Republican vice presidential challenger Paul Ryan.

During a campaign stop in Virginia Friday, Mr. Romney described his running mate as “steady” and “poised” during the debate.

Mr. Romney said Biden directly contradicted sworn testimony from State Department officials about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

During Thursday's debate, the vice president said “we were not told” that there had been requests for more security at the consulate before the attacks.

Carney said Biden was referring to himself and President Obama when he made the comment, not the Obama administration as a whole. The White House spokesman accused the Romney campaign of trying to “politicize” the Libya attack, which resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Later Friday, Mr. Romney will attend a campaign event in Ohio, where he will be joined by Ryan. President Obama is staying in Washington.

Initial polls on who won the debate are mixed. A CNN/ORC poll found that 48 percent of respondents who watched thought Ryan won, while 44 percent named Biden as the winner.

A CBS poll, however, says 50 percent of uncommitted voters thought Biden won. According to that poll, 31 percent gave the victory to Ryan and 19 percent thought the debate was a tie.

Biden and Ryan disagreed early and often on foreign and economic policy during their debate in Kentucky.

Looking to regain momentum following Mr. Obama's poor debate performance last week, Biden launched an aggressive defense of White House policies. He called on Representative Ryan and other Republican lawmakers to “get out of the way” and let the Obama administration fix the slow economy.

“They talk about this great recession that fell out of the sky, like, 'Oh my goodness, where did it come from?' It came from this man [Ryan] voting to put two wars on a credit card.”

But Ryan countered that after nearly four years, President Obama and congressional Democrats bear full responsibility for an economy that he said has left 15 percent of the country living in poverty.

The candidates also opposed each other's foreign policy views, with Biden declaring that U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan in 2014 and Ryan saying that such an announcement amounts to weakness.

“We don't want to broadcast to our enemies, 'Put a date on your calendar. Wait us out and then come back.'”

On Syria, Biden praised the Obama administration's careful work with America's allies in pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

“We are doing it exactly like we need to do to identify those forces who, in fact, will provide for a stable government and not cause a regional Sunni-Shia (Shi'ite) war when Bashar Assad falls.”

Ryan accused the Obama administration of inaction on Syria, saying it has allowed tens of thousands to die in the conflict despite mounting international pressure to act.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama get two more chances to debate each other before the November 6 election.