Government and Political Roundup: Sparks fly during the VP debateWisconsin News
-- Family, friends, and supporters gathered in Janesville last night to watch their hometown candidate Paul Ryan debate Vice President Joe Biden.
Family, friends, and supporters gathered in Janesville last night to watch their hometown candidate Paul Ryan debate Vice President Joe Biden. Ryan’s older brother Tobin said he had a restless night of sleep beforehand – but he said Paul held his own against a skilled political veteran and a fellow Irishman. Ryan Hughes of the U-W Madison College Republicans said Ryan spelled out what the U-S should do in the Middle East, pointed out the Obama administration’s failures, and stressed the importance of security at home. Meanwhile, at a Janesville union hall, Democrats praised Biden’s willingness to call out Ryan on the budget, Medicare, and other issues. State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said the debate was a chance to keep the Romney-Ryan campaign “honest.” In a statement, Ryan’s Democratic opponent for his congressional seat – Kenosha’s Rob Zerban – said Ryan put on a quote, “embarrassing performance” that “continued his disturbing pattern of dishonesty” about the wars overseas, unemployment, and his Medicare overhaul. The A-P interviewed voters around the country. And while they had little agreement on who won, they said a vice-presidential debate that’s normally inconsequential really mattered this year because of the closeness of the contest – and what’s at stake. A college student in Georgia liked how Biden went on the attack. An older Republican woman in Pittsburgh said Biden laughed at Ryan and made fun of him all night, and there was no reason for it.
The opening-and-closing handshakes were among the few calm moments at last night’s vice presidential debate. Verbal sparks flew the rest of the time. Republican challenger Paul Ryan of Janesville kept challenging a spirited Vice President Joe Biden – who was out to display some fire after a listless performance by President Obama in his debate with a more aggressive Mitt Romney last week. The two clashed from the get-go, first on foreign policy and then on economic issues. Ryan blasted the Obama administration for not providing enough security to U-S Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in a terrorist attack at the American embassy in Libya on September 11th. Biden called it a “bunch of malarkey.” The two constantly interrupted each other, as well as moderator Martha Raddatz of A-B-C News. On taxes, Biden defended tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans, but Ryan looked in the camera and told the middle class to watch out. Each accused the other of not disclosing enough about their economic-and-tax plans. And they sparred on Ryan’s plan to reform Medicare by giving providing vouchers to buy private care. Biden said it would cost seniors thousands of dollars more, but Ryan accused the administration of not offering a “credible solution.” Biden said Medicare could save billions if it could negotiate with drug companies on the cost of seniors’ medicines. Their only agreement during the 90-minute forum was they wanted the U-S out of Afghanistan in 2014 – but they disagreed on how firm the commitment should be. Today, Biden campaigns at U-W La Crosse. Ryan returns to Milwaukee tomorrow night to campaign for U-S Senate candidate Tommy Thompson.
Some top Wisconsin Republicans distanced themselves from G-O-P State Representative Roger Rivard of Rice Lake, after his comment that “some girls rape easy” hit the news yesterday. Governor Scott Walker, vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan, and U-S Senator Ron Johnson all withdrew their endorsements of Rivard in his November race with Democrat Stephen Smith. The Republican Assembly Campaign Committee withdrew its financial support for Rivard. Wausau area Congressman Sean Duffy said he would donate money he received from Rivard to a domestic abuse shelter. And U-S Senate candidate Tommy Thompson was critical. Rivard was commenting on a high school rape case last December when he told a Chetek newspaper that his father warned him that “some girls rape easy” – meaning they could have consensual sex and claim later it was rape. After Smith made it a campaign issue, Rivard said the remarks were quoted out of context. He said it was a warning to him to avoid pre-marital sex, and he said Wednesday that rape is a “horrible act of violence.” But apparently, the damage had been done. A Ryan spokesman said Rivard’s statements were “outrageous and offensive.” Walker said voters would have to decide whether Rivard has accounted for quote, “these indefensible comments.” A Johnson spokesman called it “alarming and destructive.” Representative Robin Vos, who heads the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, said he cannot stand behind Rivard.