Romney Hits Campaign Trial Following VP Debate

Posted October 12th, 2012 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is hitting the campaign trail in Virginia and Ohio on Friday after Thursday's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Mr. Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan.

Mr. Romney campaigns in Richmond, Virginia, and later will be joined by Ryan for a rally in Lancaster, Ohio. 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.

However, a CBS poll 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 feisty, interruption-filled debate in Kentucky.

From the outset of the 90-minute nationally televised debate, both candidates engaged in animated back-and-forth exchanges.

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.

On Libya, Ryan criticized the White House for not providing enough security in Benghazi, where an attack last month killed the U.S. ambassador. He said the administration was too slow in recognizing that it was a terrorist attack.

“Our ambassador in Paris has a marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn't we have a marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew that there was an al-Qaida cell with arms?”

Biden called the attack against the U.S. ambassador “a tragedy,” promising that whatever “mistakes” were made “will not be made again.”

Regarding Iran, Ryan said the Islamic Republic has become “brazen” because the Obama administration has “no credibility” on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. Biden countered that the U.S. has placed “the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions” on Iran.

The candidates also clashed over healthcare. Biden accused Ryan of being out of touch with working Americans for supporting plans to slash government spending and to turn the popular Medicare program for seniors into what the vice president called a “voucher” system.

Ryan shot back, saying Obama's health care plan had diverted $716 billion from Medicare and created a board that could deny coverage to patients who need it.

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