U.S. elections debates: Biden levels playfield for Obama


With the D-day less than 4 weeks away, Democrats needed to rejuvenate their image on vice-presidential debate after what was perceived as a poor performance by Barack Obama last week (even the President admitted he had been “too polite”).

And according to the polls, they did it: Joe Biden won Paul Ryan among the undecided voters.

Mr Ryan was well briefed in foreign politics, but seemed to melt like a sugar lump in Mr Biden’s broad experience. Mr Biden’s performance would have been even better had he avoided rolling his eyes and disrespectfully laughing while his opponent spoke. He did not even call him by his name, but as “my friend here”. Some analysts found that quite irritating.

Inconvenient data Congressman Ryan’s best moment was noting the high unemployment rate and other gloomy economic statistics. He pointed out that President Obama broke his promise to cut the federal budget deficit in half by the end of his first term.

The deficit in fiscal year 2009 was $1.4 trillion, meaning Obama would have had to shrink the deficit to $700 billion to keep his promise. The deficit was about $1.3 trillion in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and is projected to be about $900 billion in the current fiscal year.

“This is not what a real recovery looks like. We need real reforms for real recovery and that’s exactly what Mitt Romney and I are proposing. It’s a five-point plan. Get America energy independent in North America by the end of the decade.”

“Help people who are hurting get the skills they need to get the jobs they want. Get this deficit and debt under control to prevent a debt crisis,” he noted.

Then Mr Biden put on a good show: “If they’d get out of the way and let us pass the tax cut for the middle class, make it permanent, if they get out of the way and pass jobs bill, if they get out of the way and let us allow 14 million people who are struggling to stay in their homes because their mortgages are upside down, but they never missed a mortgage payment, just get out of the way.”

“Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something. Show me a policy. Show me a policy where you take responsibility,” he said.

Mitt Romney’s unfortunate campaign remark that the 47% of Americans who pay no income tax are Obama supporters was raised. Mr Ryan suggested that it was a Joe Biden-style gaffe (current vice president has earned a reputation for often saying the wrong thing at the wrong time).

This heated debate covered a range of subjects from taxation to healthcare, from abortion to Afghanistan. Don’t just take it as a sideshow: this time both candidates delivered interesting blows that might be important in the polls.

About the Author

Ana Fuentes
Columnist for El País and a contributor to SER (Sociedad Española de Radiodifusión), was the first editor-in-chief of The Corner. Currently based in Madrid, she has been a correspondent in New York, Beijing and Paris for several international media outlets such as Prisa Radio, Radio Netherlands or CNN en español. Ana holds a degree in Journalism from the Complutense University in Madrid and the Sorbonne University in Paris, and a Master's in Journalism from Spanish newspaper El País.

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