DANVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) – Key quotes from Thursday’s debate between Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president:
* On the fatal assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens:
BIDEN: “I can make absolutely two commitments to you and all the American people tonight. One, we will find and bring to justice the men who did this. And secondly, we will get to the bottom of it, and whatever – wherever the facts lead us, wherever they lead us, we will make clear to the American public, because whatever mistakes were made will not be made again.”
RYAN: “Look, if we’re hit by terrorists we’re going to call it for what it is, a terrorist attack. Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn’t we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew that there was an al-Qaeda cell with arms?
“…What we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.”
* On U.S. policy in the Middle East:
RYAN: “We should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts. … When we show that we’re cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us.”
BIDEN: “With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey … not a single thing he said is accurate.”
* On Iran’s efforts to obtain a nuclear bomb
RYAN: “When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material – nuclear material to make one bomb.
Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.”
The Obama administration says “the military option’s on the table, but it’s not being viewed as credible.”
BIDEN: “Imagine had we let the Republican Congress work out the sanctions. You think there’s any possibility the entire world would have joined us, Russia and China, all of our allies? These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period.
“So all this bluster I keep hearing (from Republicans), all this loose talk, what are they talking about?”
* On the economy
BIDEN: “We knew we had to act for the middle class. We immediately went out and rescued General Motors. We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class. And in addition to that, when that – when that occurred, what did Romney do? Romney said, “No, let Detroit go bankrupt.” We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said, “No, let foreclosures hit the bottom.”
RYAN: “Look, did they come in and inherit a tough situation? Absolutely. But we’re going in the wrong direction. Look at where we are. The economy is barely limping along. It’s growing at 1.3 percent. That’s slower than it grew last year and last year was slower than the year before.
“Job growth in September was slower than it was in August, and August was slower than it was in July. We’re heading in the wrong direction; 23 million Americans are struggling for work today; 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty today. This is not what a real recovery looks like.”
* On Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s videotaped remarks that the roughly “47 percent” of Americans who do not pay income taxes are “victims” looking for handouts:
RYAN: “This is a man who gave 30 percent of his income to charity, more than the two of us combined. Mitt Romney’s a good man. He cares about 100 percent of Americans in this country. And … I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.”
BIDEN: “I don’t doubt his personal generosity. … But you know what? I know he had no commitment to the automobile industry. He just – he said, let it go bankrupt, period. Let it drop out. All this talk – we saved a million jobs. Two hundred thousand people are working today. And I’ve never met two guys (Romney and Ryan) who’re more down on America across the board.”
(Reporting by David Lindsey; editing by Christopher Wilson)