As Mike Warren highlights, moderator Martha Raddatz apparently didn’t think Obamacare was important enough to make the cut as one of the nine topics she brought up during the vice presidential debate. Two other closely related topics that didn’t make her cut were federal spending and the national debt. Anyone who had been asleep for four years before waking up and tuning in would never have guessed that Obamacare, rampant federal spending, and unsustainable federal debt had given rise to the Tea Party and had propelled the GOP to gains of 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats in the 2010 elections.
To be fair, Raddatz did get interested in asking about federal spending in one respect — in questioning Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s desire not to cut defense spending. She not only brought that up but followed up seven times. Never once, however, did she mention that we would have run huge deficits every year under Obama without having spent one dime on defense. Nor did she mention the $16 trillion national debt (up from $9.986 trillion as of the start of October 2008 — see Table S-9). Nor did she mention President Obama’s four consecutive budgets calling for $1 trillion deficits after no prior president had ever submitted a budget calling for even a $500 billion deficit; the fact that Obama underestimated the 2012 deficit by over $500 billion; the fact that Obama has racked up more deficit spending in just three years (from 2010 through 2012) that any prior president had ever racked up in eight; or the fact that the only times in all of American history that deficits have surpassed 6.0 percent of the gross domestic product have all involved either the Civil War, World War I, World War II, or Obama (under whom average annual deficit spending has amazingly eclipsed 9 percent of GDP).
Instead, the most hard-hitting she could get — except when strongly implying that the Romney-Ryan tax plan would raise the deficit — was to ask Vice President Biden this one question in the midst of addressing the topic of taxes: “Vice President, what would you suggest — what would you suggest beyond raising taxes on the wealthy that would substantially reduce the long-term deficit?”
Biden lamely answered in full, “Not — just let the taxes expire like they’re supposed to on those millionaires. We don’t — we can’t afford $800 billion going to people making a minimum [of] a million dollars. They do not need it, Martha. Those 120,000 families make $8 million a year. Middle-class people need the help. Why does my friend cut out the tuition tax credit for them? Why does he go out after the child....[inaudible]?”
Raddatz immediately turned to Ryan, and asked, “Can you declare anything off limits? Home mortgages deduction…?” Shortly thereafter, she turned her attention to the Romney-Ryan proposals on defense spending and never followed up with Biden.
White House records reveal that the moderator of last night's vice presidential debate, Martha Raddatz, visited Vice President Joe Biden at his official residence on March 26, 2012. Raddatz is an employee of ABC News.
During the vice presidential debate, Paul Ryan reiterated his opposition to abortion. Joe Biden explained that he’s personally opposed to abortion but doesn’t believe in protecting the unborn. President Obama has previously expressed his own position, which might best be described as not being opposed to abortion either personally or as a matter of policy (see the first 30 seconds of this clip):
You don’t win a nationally televised debate by being rude and obnoxious. You don’t win by interrupting your opponent time after time after time or by being a blowhard. You don’t win with facial expressions, especially smirks or fake laughs, or by pretending to be utterly exasperated with what your opponent is saying.
Joe Biden was aggressive, condescending, and shamelessly demagogic. Paul Ryan was earnest, youthful, and perhaps a bit over-scripted. The upshot was a vice presidential debate that was occasionally entertaining for partisans on both sides, but was mostly unenlightening. Ultimately, I suspect, it will prove inconsequential. It's hard to believe it will change any votes, or give either side momentum.
In email to supporters, Vice President Joe Biden promises tonight to "tell the truth and stand up for what we believe in." The subject line of Biden's email reads, "My promise to you and Barack tonight."
"I told Barack I have one mission tonight: tell the truth and stand up for what we believe in," writes Vice President Biden. "Our side is always going to win when we do that."
Biden then portrays himself and President Barack Obama as underdogs. He writes, " But, Daniel, take a look at what we're up against this week:"
Vice President Joe Biden has been munching on M&Ms and animal crackers to prepare for tonight's debate with Paul Ryan, according to the Obama campaign. He's also been consuming coffee, tea, and Gatorade.
The Obama campaign provides more details. "[T]his afternoon, the Vice President is spending time with family and friends at a private residence outside of Danville owned by local supporters," according to an unnamed campaign official.
Democrats are trying to use Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's bizarre and offensive comments about rape and pregnancy to smear GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. And many journalists are playing along.