By Jim Kouri
As soon as Thursday night’s long-anticipated vice presidential debate began, Republican candidate Paul Ryan charged into a discussion about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi that ended with four Americans killed, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.
A Pew survey released on Wednesday found that voters are divided over who would do better in vice presidential debate, with 40 percent expecting Ryan to be the winner and 34 percent favoring Biden. Following the debate, a CNN poll scored the debate Ryan: 48%, Biden: 44%.
Throughout the exchanges, Biden kept snickering, which may have backfired according to several pundits on the left of the political spectrum such as Jeffrey Greenfield (PBS), Ashley Parker (NY Times), and Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post who Tweeted: “Biden’s laughing is losing the debate- obnoxious.”
Vice presidential debates usually don’t carry the same weight and interest as presidential debates in elections. But stakes have been raised for both campaigns after Obama’s poor performance in his debate with Mitt Romney last week. As a result, Biden was placed under enormous pressure to do well in his debate with Ryan.
Without batting and eye, Congressman Ryan slammed the Obama administration’s weakness on foreign policy, saying it took almost two weeks for President Barack Obama to declare the Libyan embassy incident a terrorist attack.
Biden criticized the Romney-Ryan ticket for making political statements even before they got to know more facts about the incident, which left the U.S. ambassador and three others killed. But a review of Mitt Romney’s statement shows that he was more accurate about the consulate attack than the members of the Obama administration, said political strategist Mike Baker.
Finally, Biden appeared to surrender the point to Ryan when he said that “any mistakes made in response to the attack will not be repeated.”
“I can make absolutely two commitments to you and all the American people tonight,” Biden told the Kentucky audience, “One, we will find and bring to justice the men who did this. And secondly, we will get to the bottom of it, and wherever the facts lead us, wherever they lead us, we will make clear to the American public, because whatever mistakes were made will not be made again,” he said.
“I don’t know how they’ll find the terrorist assassins who killed Ambassador Chris Stevens when the Obama administration couldn’t even get an FBI team to the crime scene until three weeks after the attack,” said former police lieutenant and security firm owner Jeff Freeman.
The Obama administration initially described the Benghazi attack on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, as a spontaneous protest over a YouTube video that denigrated the Prophet Mohammed. To Muslims, any image of Mohammed is considered blasphemous, Freeman noted.
The Republicans, including Romney and Ryan, have been highly critical of the Obama administration’s handling of the security and protection of about 400 U.S. State Department facilities and their personnel overseas.
Keeping up his aggressive attack, Ryan had Biden defending the way that President Barack Obama is handling the Iranian nuclear weapons issue. Biden argued that Mitt Romney was offering an Iran policy which was not so different from that of Obama.
Biden stressed that if deemed necessary, the U.S. military was ready to deal a serious blow to Iran’s nuclear ambition, but stopped short of saying what that “blow” entailed.
“Biden is known for making unusually obvious ‘gaffes’ regularly, but whenever he misspeaks it’s treated as a joke. On the other hand, if a Republican misspeaks it becomes headline news,” said Mike Baker.
“While several members of the news media — or as I call them, the usual suspects — seemed to prop up Biden after the debate, it was Ryan who appeared professional, knowledgeable and sincere,” Baker added.
“Biden’s behavior during the Vice Presidential debate underscored just how important it is to defeat the Obama-Biden re-election campaign, so we can once again have distinguished and honorable men serving in the White House,” said officials from the Campaign to Defeat Obama.