Call me “Mr.,” Ryan demands: Preview and VP debate live blog

Quick polls:

CBS News poll of undecided voters: Who won the debate? BIDEN: 50% RYAN: 31% TIE: 19%

CNN poll of debate viewers (includes decided and undecided people): Who won the debate? Ryan 48%, Biden 44%, margin of error +/- 5%

Update 10/13/12 – And one more poll: Reuters/Ipso poll of registered voters: Who did better in the debate? Biden 42%, 35% for Ryan, 23% unsure

Update 10/14/12 – A state poll – Ohio – Public Policy Polling – Who do you think won the debate? Biden 46%, Ryan 37%, not sure 17%


I said at the end of my preview, “Look for sparks to fly,” and indeed they did. Both were feisty.

Biden knows so much about foreign policy and international relations and it showed. Ryan seemed more to embrace talking points but some of them involved very unpopular positions, such as keeping troops in Afghanistan.

Biden was also strong on Medicare and abortion and on pushing Ryan on giving details. Ryan pushed criticisms of Obama and Romney’s set of ideas for economic growth but did not develop these.

Live blog

Closing statements: Biden hits the 47%, giving people a shot, says Romney was talking about his mom and dad. Ryan: “Obama had his chance.” Then he repeats talking points. Repeats claim that Romney is “uniquely qualified.”

Last question is about what you’d bring to the job. Ryan talks policies. Biden says “I never say anything I don’t mean…My whole life is to leveling the playing field for middle-class people.”

10:22: Question about the tone of the campaign. Biden says our obligation is to care for those we send in harm’s way and that’s what he tells his son. He says his son and others fighting shouldn’t be put in the “47% category.” But he says campaigns made nastier by outside groups but think about which party has had a commitment to the middle class. This is a strong combination of elements and arguments.

In turn, Ryan blames Obama campaign for negative campaign.

10:20: Raddatz asks if pro-choice position would survive Romney administration. Both talk judges but Ryan is vague. Biden says Romney’s judges won’t protect choice.

~10:15: Question on views about abortion and how your religion relates. Ryan starts: He’s against abortion both because of religion and “reason and science,” cites seeing his kid’s ultrasound. Policy of Romney administration is to be against abortion except for rape and incest. But then he starts claiming that churches affected by Obamacare birth control coverage mandates; that’s simply untrue.

Biden: “I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life, informs my social doctrine…on taking care of people who need help.” Accept church teaching on abortion for self but won’t impose on others. Can’t tell women they can’t control their own bodies. Corrects Ryan’s misinformation about birth control coverage mandate.

~10:05: More foreign policy, this time on Syria. Biden says we don’t need another war with more Americans troop on the ground. Ryan’s response is not about what to do in the future, but what he thought the U.S. should have done a year ago. Now Ryan says he agrees with the Obama administration about what to do in the future. Raddatz asks what is Ryan’s criteria for intervention; he says “what’s in the national security interests of the American people,” but gives no specifics.

~9:55: Talk turns to Afghanistan, where American troops have been for over a decade. Ryan says, “We don’t want to lose the gains we’ve got.” Biden says he’s been there twenty times. “We went there for one reason. To get people who killed Americans.” Now, says Biden, it’s their responsibility to take on their own security.

Readers: Keep in mind that Americans overwhelmingly would like troops out of Afghanistan.

~9:48: As part of tax discussion, Raddatz asks Ryan if he’s figured out what deductions he’d get rid of to make his budget numbers work. He’s refusing to do so. Biden just mocked the Republican Congress’s 7% approval rate.

~ 9:35: On Medicare, Ryan talks in generalities. He is acknowledging that the Romney-Ryan plan involves subsidies to buy Medicare. Biden notes endorsements for Obamacare from the American Medical Association and the AARP. Biden said first plan was estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost seniors an additional $6400 more for Medicare. Biden says that they won’t privatize Social Security and if Ryan and Romney had done it, seniors would be in tough shape. Biden continually asks who people trust on Social Security and Medicare – “These guys haven’t been big on Medicare from the beginning,” Polling data have shown that people trust Democrats more on these issues.

~ 9:20: The talk turns to economy. Biden gives a much stronger response than Obama. Now Ryan is telling a nice story about how Romney paid for a kid to go to college, but how does that relate to public policy? Biden replies, “I don’t doubt his personal generosity.” “I know he had no commitment to the automobile industry. We saved a million jobs.”

Debate starts with foreign policy. Remember, Biden has deep knowledge of national security and foreign policy matters. He’s the former Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His responses are more detailed than Ryan’s.

Debate preview

The second October debate will be held tonight, this time between the vice-presidential candidates, Vice-President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.

Martha Raddatz, moderator of the vice-presidential race, who must call the Republican vice-presidential nominee “Mr. Ryan.”

But don’t look for the moderator to call Ryan “Congressman Ryan” or “Representative Ryan.” No, she’ll say “Mr. Ryan.” And that’s not her choice.

According to PoliticoRomney’s campaign negotiated this provision.

The sources did not spell out with precision why “mister” was preferable to “congressman,” but it is almost certainly because of the low approval ratings overall of Congress.

By the way, Biden is not bound by this agreement.

In any case, both men come to the debate with middling personal popularity levels, 44% for Biden and 43% for Ryan.

But, after the weak debate performance for Obama last week and a stronger one for Romney, look for sparks to fly.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.