Biden vs Ryan: Who won the debate?

An analysis of the highlights in the US vice-presidential debate in Kentucky.

There was added interest for this year’s US vice-presidential debate after the widely-perceived poor performance of Barack Obama in the presidential debate in Denver.

The pressure was on the incumbent, Joe Biden, to regain momentum for the Democratic ticket.

And Mitt Romney’s pick, Paul Ryan, could expect to come under intense scrutiny over his controversial budget plan to slash government spending.

The debate began with foreign policy. Below are some of the excerpts:

On Iran

Ryan: “When Barack Obama was elected they had enough fissile nuclear material to make one bomb, now they have enough for five. They are racing toward nuclear weapons. They are four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.”

Biden: “Imagine had we let Republican Congress work out the sanctions, do you think there’s any possibility the entire world would have joined us, Russia and China, all of our allies? This is the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions.”

On the US economy

Biden: “The economy was in free fall. The great recession hit. Nine million people lost their job, $1.6 trillion of wealth lost in equity in your homes and retirement accounts from the middle class. We knew we had to act for the middle class.”

Ryan: “We’re going in the wrong direction. Look at where we are. The economy is barely limping along. It’s growing at 1.3 per cent, that’s slower than it grew last year, and last year was slower than the year before… We need real reforms for real recovery.”

On US withdrawal from Afghanistan n 2014

Ryan: “We don’t want to broadcast to our enemies ‘put a date on your calendar, wait us out and then come back’. We do agree with the timeline and the transition. What any administration will do in 2013 is assess the situation to see how best to complete this timeline. What we do not want to do is give our allies reason to trust us less and embolden our enemies.”

Biden: “Forty-nine of our allies said ‘out in 2014’… Unless you set a timeline, Baghdad in the case of Iraq, and Kabul in the case of Afghanistan, will not step up. They’re happy to let us continue to do the job, international security forces to do the job. The only way they step up is to say ‘Fellas, we’re leaving. We’ve trained you. Step up’.”

On religion, a key issue in the US

Ryan: “I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me on how to take care of the vulnerable, about how to make sure that people have a chance in life… I’m pro-life not simply because of my Catholic faith…but also because of reason and science…”

Biden: “Life begins at conception, that’s the church’s judgement I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally-devout Christians and Muslims and Jews…on others. I do not believe that we have a right to tell women that they can’t control their body.”

Ryan Grim from The Huffington Post joins presenter Shihab Rattansi on Inside Story: US 2012 to analyse some of the highlights of Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate.

Excerpts of analysis by Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post:

“Obama needs to win women big in order to win the White House because Republicans have had an advantage with men in the last several cycles and they’re going to have it in the foreseeable future… They [Democrats] need to win women back, this could end up being a big deal.”

“It [vice-presidential debate] stops the bleeding. Obama was badly beaten up last week so this at least turns things around. Most people are saying that this was a win for Biden, I think it was a win for him… Then you have Obama and Romney coming in on Tuesday and it’s anybody’s ball game from there.”