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10 Best Biden Put-Downs of Paul Ryan in Veep Debate

The vice president just couldn't seem to help himself: Ryan was an easy target.

Photo Credit: ABC News


At Thursday’s vice presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky, Vice President Joe Biden went all in, playing the traditional role of a vice presidential candidate: the attack dog. At times his answers played a little loose with the facts, as when he claimed that personnel at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi hadn’t asked for increased security, but he hewed far closer to the truth than Ryan, who once again trotted out the false claim that that administration is cutting Medicare, and again offered no details for how he would pay for the 20 percent across-the-board tax cut that the Republican campaign is proposing. Biden, however, had his facts and figures at the ready, as well with an evident disdain for the arguments of his opponent, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

During one exchange between the candidates over how close Iran was to obtaining a nuclear weapon, Biden took issue with Ryan's claim that Tehran closer to having an operable bomb than it was four years ago. After a tussle over the distinction between having fissile material and an actual bomb, moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News pushed back on Biden, who then served up what for Obama supporters would become the theme of the night. "But facts matter, Martha...Facts matter." 

In a campaign that has been marked by a relentless torrent of mendacity, as evidenced in Ryan's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this summer, Biden's assertion quickly became a catch phrase and hashtag.

But if last week’s presidential debate between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney disappointed for its lack of promised “zingers,” Biden more than made up for it, having entered the hall with his pockets clanking with rhetorical weaponry.

Here we offer his top 10.

1. “A bunch of malarkey.” Moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News opened the debate with a question about last month’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, to which Ryan responded with a claim that the Obama administration was cutting defense spending to dangerous levels, and that it had put the Benghazi consulate in danger by failing to provide enough security.

“With all due respect,” Biden replied, “that’s a bunch of malarkey...

“I will be very specific,” Biden said. “Number one, this lecture on embassy security -- ­­ the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one. So much for the embassy security piece.

“Number two, Governor Romney, before he knew the facts, before he even knew that our ambassador was killed, he was out making a political statement which was panned by the media around the world. And this talk about this ­­this weakness. I don't understand what my friend's talking about here.”

2. “Betting against America.” Pivoting on Ryan’s claim that the U.S. is signaling weakness through defense cuts, Biden added: “Look, I just -- ­­I mean, these guys bet against America all the time." 

3.  Dissing Grover the Great. It has long been the case that in order to ensure the goodwill of right-wing donors, Republican candidates for Congress have felt compelled to sign, under pressure from Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, a pledge that they will not raise taxes under virtually any circumstances. Ryan is no exception. During a discussion of tax policy, Biden invoked Norquist’s name.

“[I]nstead of signing pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute to bring back the middle class,” Biden said, “they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class we're going to level the playing field; we're going to give you a fair shot again; we are going to not repeat the mistakes we made in the past by having a different set of rules for Wall Street and Main Street, making sure that we continue to hemorrhage these tax cuts for the super wealthy.”

4. “Stop talking about how you care about people.” As part of the tax policy discussion, Biden let loose with a riff that painted Republican resistance to taxing the wealthiest as a form of disregard for the rest of the country, telling Ryan that if Republicans would “just get out of the way” of passing a jobs bill, things would get better for the middle class.

“Stop talking about how you care about people,” Biden said. “Show me something. Show me a policy. Show me a policy where you take responsibility.

He continued: “And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, 'Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?' It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-­dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. I was there. I voted against them. I said, no, we can't afford that. And now, all of a sudden, these guys are so seized with the concern about the debt that they created.”

5. The 47 percent and a bridge for sale. About this time last week, liberals and progressives were scratching their heads, wondering why Obama, in his debate with Romney, never mentioned the governor’s infamous comments, made in secretly recorded video obtained by Mother Jones, suggesting that 47 percent of the American people are moochers who “believe that they are victims” and feel “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” Biden was all too happy to pick up the slack.

After Obama deprived Romney the opportunity to apologize for those remarks during the presidential debate, Romney appeared on Fox News Channel’s Hannity show to say he had been wrong to say what he did -- that it had been a big mistake.

Biden was having none of it. “The idea,­­ if you heard that ­­that little soliloquy on 47 percent and you think he just made a mistake, then I think you're ­­--­­ I think ­­I got a bridge to sell you,” he said.

It was the capper to Biden’s comments about Romney, Ryan and the middle class, viewed through the prism of Romney’s opposition to bailout loans for the auto industry, and mortgage refinancing for people who are about to lose their homes. Throughout the debate, Biden referred to Ryan as “my friend.”

“Romney said: ‘No, let Detroit go bankrupt,’” Biden said. “We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said: ‘No, let foreclosures hit the bottom.’ But it shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. My friend recently in a speech in Washington said 30 percent of the American people are takers.

“These people are my mom and dad,­­ the people I grew up with, my neighbors,” Biden went on. “They pay more effective tax than Gov. Romney pays in his federal income tax. They are elderly people who, in fact, are living off of Social Security. They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan right now who are, quote, ‘not paying any tax.’"

6. “A bunch of stuff” -- and more malarkey. In an exchange on Iran’s efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon, Ryan took Biden to task, alleging that the administration has not been tough enough, and sought to weaken the economic sanctions against Tehran that are currently in place. What followed is priceless enough that a bit of transcript is required to appreciate the full effect:

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