When President Obama and Mitt Romney circled each other with fingers pointed only a few feet apart in several tense exchanges in Tuesday night’s debate, Vice President Joe Biden believes it reflected real emotions between the rival candidates.
“I don't know if I've seen it in a presidential debate, but the forum lent itself to that, and I thought it was a real moment,’’ Biden told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Wednesday. “I really thought the forum was a great forum for both of them to try to make their case, and so when they were kind of circling each other, it was like 'Hey, c'mon man, let's level with each other here.’’’
Biden's own debate opponent, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, was also on TODAY Wednesday, where he criticized the Obama administration's conduct in the deadly Benghazi attack last month.
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Obama was more animated than in the first showdown, as both candidates debated with ferocity in the town-hall style event in Hempstead, N.Y.
“I think President Obama was absolutely at the top of his game last night,’’ Biden said. “I also think that he was able to clearly draw a picture between a future under Obama and a future under Romney.”
The aggressive tone of the two candidates contrasted with the vice presidential debate on Oct. 11, in which Biden could often be seen smiling and laughing when Republican nominee Paul Ryan was answering questions. Many Democrats praised Biden’s aggressiveness, while many Republicans thought he made a spectacle.
Shannon Stapleton / Pool / Pool via EPA
“(Ryan) is a good man, he's a solid guy,’’ Biden said. “I like him. I wasn't laughing at him. I was laughing at some of the answers that were coming forward.’’
But a subject that has been no laughing matter between the two parties, and created one of the more heated exchanges in Tuesday night’s debate, is the death of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was killed in an attack in Benghazi in September.
The Romney campaign has questioned the Obama administration about who was responsible for denying a request for additional security for Stevens, while the Democrats have claimed that the Republicans are trying to politicize a tragedy. The late ambassador’s father, Jan Stevens, 77, told Bloomberg News last week that “it would really be abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue.’’
“As the president made clear in his answer when Governor Romney kept trying to politicize this thing, he made it clear that the president has even a keener interest than anyone else,’’ Biden told Guthrie Wednesday. “The president knew (Stevens) and knew his family. This is something we want to get to the bottom of to make sure something like this never happens again.”
“What we owe Chris Stevens, what we owe these Americans that gave their lives is to make sure that we get to the bottom of this so that we can prevent something like this from happening again,’’ Ryan told Matt Lauer on TODAY Wednesday. “That’s what’s so troubling about this story is that as the facts have come out, it doesn’t speak well of how the administration has handled this. We know that they asked for more security. They didn’t get it.
“I don’t think that they should’ve sent their U.N. ambassador out five days later to say that this was from a spontaneous mob reacting to a YouTube video. I don’t think the President should’ve gone to the U.N. and mentioned the YouTube video six times and take two weeks before acknowledging this was a terrorist attack. Even the State Department said that they weren’t backing up that story.”