Statement Analysis®

The Vice Presidential Debates

On October 11, 2012, Vice President Joe Biden squared off against his challenger Rep. Paul Ryan in the first and only Vice Presidential debate of 2012. The event was moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Ms. Raddatz began the debate talking about the recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. She directed her first question to Vice President Biden. Although he gives a lengthy answer, the Vice President sets the tone for the debate by not answering the specific question.

Ms. Raddatz
"The State Department has now made clear there were no protesters there. It was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?"

Vice President Biden
"What it was, it was a tragedy, Martha. It - Chris Stevens was one of our best. We lost three other brave Americans. And I can make absolutely two commitments to you and all of the American people tonight: One, we will find and bring to justice the men who did this.

And secondly, we will get to the bottom of it, and whatever - 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. When you're looking at a president, Martha, it seems to me that you should take a look at his most important responsibility. That's carrying forward the national security of the country. And the best way to do that is take a look at how he's handled he issues of the day.

On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake; we should have left - that he ended it - Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake; we should have left 30,000 troops there. With regard to Afghanistan, he said he will end the war in 2014. Governor Romney said we should not set a date, number one, and number two, with regard to 2014, it depends. When it came to Osama bin Laden, the president, the first day in office - I was sitting with him in the Oval Office. He called in the CIA and signed an order saying, my highest priority is to get bin Laden. Prior to the election, prior to the - him being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked a question about how he would proceed. He said, I wouldn't move heaven and earth to get bin Laden. He didn't understand it was more than about taking a - a murderer off the battlefield; it was about restoring America's heart and letting terrorists around the world know if you do harm to America, we will track you to the gates of hell, if need be.

And lastly, the - the president of the United States has - has led with a steady hand and clear vision. Governor Romney, the opposite. The last thing we need now is another war."

Raddatz then turned to Rep. Ryan who also gave a lengthy answer but did not answer the specific question. This was his chance to say, "Yes, this was a massive intelligence failure" but he chose not to say that.

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