'A bunch of malarky': Joe Biden goes on the attack to pull it back for Democrats in vice presidential debate against Paul Ryan

 

Danville

A boisterous Joe Biden led a riproaring Democratic counterattack last night on Republicans, using his vice presidential debate with Paul Ryan to repeatedly criticise – and sometimes openly laugh at – his opponents’ policies on every topic from taxes, the economy and health care to the Middle East and Iran.

The 90-minute encounter in this small Kentucky college town may have been as uninhibited as any in debate history, as Mr Biden challenged Mr Ryan at every turn, something President Obama signally failed to do in his first debate with Mitt Romney last week.

With seconds of the start, the two were odds with the young Republican Congressman charging that events in Iran, Syria and Libya showed “the unravelling of the Obama foreign policy.” Mr Biden instantly hit back. “Not a single thing he [Ryan] says is accurate, I don’t understand what he’s talking about. With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarky.”

That exchange set the tone for subsequent set-tos on economic policy, with Mr Biden zeroing in on the Republican proposals, largely shaped by Mr Ryan, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, to reduce the deficit while at the same time cutting tax rates.

He blamed the Republicans for holding hostage iniatives that would help the middle class in order to preserve tax cuts for the very rich who didn’t need them. “Stop talking about how you care about people,” Mr Biden declaring at one point, “show me how you care. These guys [the Republicans] are so concerned now about the debt they created, I love it.”

Though more low key and restrained in style, Mr Ryan however would not be cowed, scoring points of his own. Republicans later grumbled about Mr Biden’s derision of his opponent, and they might have a point. In 2000, vice-president Al Gore was widely perceived as being insulting and condescending when he audibly sighed at arguments advanced by his opponent George W Bush.

But senior Democrats afterwards were delighted that Mr Biden had at least taken the fight to Republicans, after Mr Obama’s limp performance last week. “These guys have been peddling shell games and lies, and Biden called them out,” Maryland’s governor Martin O’Malley told reporters afterwards.

Probably, few voters will change their minds as a result of the sound and fury in Danville. But Mr Biden may help slow, or even reverse, Mr Romney’s post-debate rise in the polls. Throughout he portrayed himself as veteran statesman against the bright but simplistic novice – “like the college principal debating the class president,” as David Axelrod, Mr Obama’s top strategist, put it.

Whether that is true, the contrast in moods afterwards in the celebrated ‘spin room’ was notable. Republicans were subdued, criticising Mr Biden’s tone as they defended Mr Ryan. Democratic representatives were buoyant – and confident Mr Obama would take a leaf from his vice-president's book in his second match-up with Mr Romney next Tuesday.

The debate saw clashes on health and entitlement policy as well, especially on Mr Ryan’s proposal to part-privatise the Medicare programme for the elderly. “We will not be part of any voucher plan,” Mr Biden retorted, his eye in particular on the large elderly population in Florida, a key swing state where Mr Obama and Mr Romney are neck-and-neck.

In response, Mr Ryan accused his opponent of using “completely misleading” arguments. “That’s what politicians do when they don’t have a record to run on.”  Mr Obama, he said, had campaigned on a platform of hope and change, but now had a new strategy of “attack, blame and defame.”

About the only thing they did agree on was the 2014 target date for withdrawal from Afghanistan. But there too, as Mr Ryan warned against imperilling hard won successes, Mr Biden was more emphatic: “We are leaving. We are leaving in 2014. Period.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick