Vice President Joe Biden and Republican contender Paul Ryan met head-to-head in a domestic and foreign policy debate Thursday evening at Centre College in Danville, Ky.
Martha Raddatz, senior foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News, moderated the event. Raddatz kept a firm handle on the otherwise aggressive contest, giving allotted times for candidates’ statements and rebuttals.
On the subject of foreign policy, Ryan said the current administration’s proposed $478 billion cut to national security would be devastating to the U.S., while Biden countered, saying defense has been focusing on slimming down and specializing forces. Ryan and Biden agreed steps need to be made in order to pull forces out of Afghanistan by 2014, but their timelines differed.
Turning the debate toward domestic policy, Raddatz asked both candidates how long it would take to bring the unemployment rate below 6 percent. Biden said the key to creating more jobs is decreasing taxes for the middle class, not the wealthy. By avoiding tax raises on small businesses and keeping jobs in the U.S., Ryan said unemployment would lower to 6 percent.
In the discussion of tax reform and unemployment, Ryan said foreign dollars for the country’s $831 billion economic stimulus was a mistake.
Biden responded, saying Ryan himself asked for stimulus money as a Wisconsin congressman.
Raddatz moved to the discussion of Medicare and Social Security and Ryan said the current administration acquired $716 billion from Medicare for Obamacare.
“They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, turning Medicare into a piggy bank for Obamacare,” Ryan said.
Finally, Raddatz asked the candidates to explain their stance on abortion. Ryan said he is strictly pro-life. Biden said he refuses to impose his values on those of different or who have no religious affiliations, despite his religious beliefs.
“I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that women can’t control their (bodies),” Biden said.
The second presidential debate will be 8 p.m. Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.