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The VP debate: Joe Biden and Paul Ryan's biggest tactical flubs
There were no devastating gaffes in Thursday's vice presidential debate. Still, both Biden and Ryan made potentially costly unforced errors
 
During the VP debate in Kentucky, Vice President Joe Biden made a claim about security requests in Libya that directly contradicted the account of the State Department.
During the VP debate in Kentucky, Vice President Joe Biden made a claim about security requests in Libya that directly contradicted the account of the State Department.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Neither Joe Biden nor Paul Ryan "scored a knockout" in Thursday's vice presidential debate, says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. One reason was that neither the current VP nor the GOP challenger hoping to replace him messed up in a major way. Biden, despite his reputation as a "major gaffe machine," might have come across as a little rude at times by constantly interrupting his Republican rival, but he scored points the ticket desperately needed in the wake of President Obama's disappointing debate performance last week. And Ryan, "debating a man with much more experience," held his own without getting flustered. Still, each candidate made at least one potentially costly mistake. Here's what you should know:

Biden's Benghazi trap
The vice president claimed the administration "wasn't aware of requests for more security in Libya before the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi," says Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy. The trouble is, he was directly "contradicting two State Department officials and the former head of diplomatic security in Libya." Just a day earlier, several witnesses told a congressional oversight committee that the request for more U.S. firepower to protect diplomats in Libya was denied by a State Department official who said that Libyans would be trained to do the job instead. Either Biden was "lying" or "clueless," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Either way his "egregious misstatement on Benghazi... will now plague the Obama-Biden ticket." The Libya story continues to evolve, so it's "a moving target," says TIME's Mark Halperin. When the fog clears, it might very well be that the vice president has "put down some marks there that are going to cause problems for the administration."

Ryan's social-issues slip
Mitt Romney has been "cultivating a new, more moderate image," says Michelle Goldberg at The Daily Beast. He's "catching up to President Obama among female voters," for example, by saying that new abortion restrictions aren't on his agenda. Enter Ryan, who opposes all abortions and says our elected leaders, not unelected judges, ought to decide what's legal. Translation: "They want to overturn" Roe v. Wade. Buh-bye, women voters. Ryan didn't stop there, says Amanda Marcotte at Slate. He also said ObamaCare is "assaulting the religious liberties of this country," meaning he thinks Catholic charities, churches, and hospitals should be able to deny women employees contraception insurance benefits because "he thinks Jesus disapproves of sex for pleasure instead of procreation." To be fair, says John McCormack at The Weekly Standard, Ryan's answer is only getting attention because moderator Martha Raddatz grilled him and not Biden. Raddatz could have put the heat on Biden, too, but she gave him a pass. 

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

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