Armed with facts and a smirk, Biden edges past Ryan in debate
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It was the debate that President Obama and Mitt Romney did not have a week ago.
Vice President Joseph R Biden Jr and Representative Paul D Ryan fiercely quarreled at the vice-presidential debate here on Thursday night, with Biden using the cutting attack lines against the Republican ticket that Obama did not and Ryan delivering a spirited case for conservative policies that Romney had soft-pedaled.
Instant polls conducted after the debate suggested something between a tie and a modest win for the vice-president.
The 90-minute debate, which unfolded in rapid tempo, offered a spirited airing of the sharp contrasts over the administration's handling of the terrorist attack in Libya, the pace of the economic recovery at home and the role of government in addressing the nation's fiscal burdens.
While Obama and Romney were not on stage, they were at the centre of the conversation as their running mates made certain the evening was squarely focussed on defining those men. But, under pressure to pass the test, Ryan displayed a proficiency in areas like foreign policy and kept pace with Biden, 27 years his senior.
It was Biden, a smirk constant on his face, who sought to quiet the rising clamour among Democrats that the president was not assertive enough with Romney at their debate last week in Denver. A day after Obama conceded he was "too polite", Biden showed no hesitation in hectoring, heckling and interrupting his challenger.
Within a single minute, Biden worked in three attacks on his rivals, referring to Romney's opposition to the auto industry bailout, his statement that the foreclosure crisis would have to "run its course" and his comment about "47 per cent" of Americans who he said were overreliant on government benefits.
"These guys bet against America all the time," said Biden, whose temperature was running close to boil for most of the evening.
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