ThinkProgress Liveblogs The Vice Presidential Debate

Welcome to ThinkProgress’ live coverage of the vice presidential debate, hosted by Centre College, in Danville, Kentucky.

We’ll fact-check both candidates’ claims in real time and offer a wide range of multimedia content. Tonight’s debate is moderated by Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent for ABC News.

08:45 PM: Ryan will be called ‘mister’ not ‘congressman’

Debate moderator Martha Raddatz will reportedly refer to Ryan as “mister” instead of “congressman” in the debate. That might have something to do with the fact that Congress’ approval rating stands at 10 percent — an all time low.

08:46 PM: Debate eats

The Biden family is eating grilled chicken, spaghetti, and salad for dinner. Biden is snacking on “M&Ms;, animal crackers, as well as lots of Gatorade, coffee and tea.” Ryan “spent the early part of Thursday with his family, studying his policy binders and exercising. He ate a tuna salad sandwich for lunch and will eat salmon with rice for dinner, an aide said.”

08:47 PM: Debate prep

Biden and Ryan have held numerous practice sessions, ahead of tonight’s debate. And even the moderator did a run-through:

08:50 PM: The golden ticket

You can’t enter the debate auditorium without one of these:

08:57 PM: If the stage looks familiar…

It’s because Vice President Dick Cheney debated Joe Lieberman from this very location in 2000.

09:05 PM: First question: Wasn’t Libya a massive failure?

Biden is defending the administration’s handling of the Libya incident, noting that the tragedy will be fully investigated and individuals will be held responsible if mistakes were made.

09:05 PM: Biden: ‘With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey’

Biden calls Ryan out over his claim that Obama’s military “weakness” led to the attack on the US consulate in Libya, a false line that Romney has repeated often.

09:06 PM: 6 minutes in

Ryan wastes no time in politicizing the Libya attacks, hitting Obama for not characterizing the violence as a “terrorist attack.” Obama used the word “terrorism” the very next day.

09:07 PM: Ryan falsely claims Obama campaign said Romney is making Libya attack ‘an issue’

Ryan said the Obama campaign is “trying to blame the Romney/Ryan ticket for making this an issue,” referring to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. This claim is false. The Obama campaign blamed the Romney campaign for making the LIbya attack a “political issue,” not a policy issue.

09:08 PM: Romney’s first reaction to Libya: accuse Obama of sympathizing with terrorists

The Romney/Ryan response to Ambassador Stevens’ killing was to claim the Administration sympathized with the terrorists. Though this false charge was widely condemned by GOP and nonpartisan experts, the campaign doubled down on it.

09:10 PM: Fact-checkers find ‘Obama apologizes for America’ claim false

Fact-checkers have long known that Mitt Romney’s claims that President Obama has been apologizing for America is false. Politifact has rated the claim Pants on Fire and has said that they “found no basis for this claim”.

09:10 PM: Ryan blames Obama for military spending cuts he voted for

Obama is not making massive to the military. Sequestration — which Ryan voted for — calls for $492 billion in military budget cuts. The reductions would only bring the military budget back to its 2006 levels.

09:11 PM: Biden: Ryan voted to cut embassy security

Biden is talking about the House Republican vote that cut $300 million from the U.S. embassy security budget. Earlier this week, Rep. Chaffetz admitted House Republicans “absolutely” voted for the cuts.

09:12 PM: Intelligence experts back up Biden on Libya

Biden’s claim that intelligence on Libya shifted matches with what experts say about the difficult nature of gathering intelligence — former CIA analyst Aki Peritz said “[b]laming the president for not having instantaneous and perfect information is a ridiculous political stunt.”

09:15 PM: Ryan say we should apologize when America errs — contradicting Romney

Paul Ryan agreed that it is absolutely appropriate to apologize when American soldiers burn qurans and behave inappropriately. Mitt Romney said on September 25 that he would “never apologize for America.”

09:16 PM: Obama did push for sanctions on Iran

In reality, the Israeli President has effusively praised President Obama’s leadership on getting American and international sanctions on Iran, which have significantly slowed Iran’s progress.

09:17 PM: Ryan’s adviser called for Congress to authorize war with Iran

Ryan’s foreign policy adviser wrote an op-ed where he argued that the only way for the Obama administration to show it is serious on Iran is to have Congress vote to go to war with the country.

09:19 PM: Obama has been out front supporting Israel

The Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, told CNN, “President Obama is doing . . . more than anything that I can remember in the past [in regard to our security].”

09:21 PM: Biden laughs off Ryan’s Iran charges

“Oh God,” Biden exclaimed, as Ryan tried to argue that the Obama administration opposed imposing sanctions on Iran.

09:22 PM: Biden is right: Iran’s economy is collapsing

According to ABC News, pressure created by international sanctions has led to mass protests: “A strict round of new measures made it more difficult for Iran to conduct foreign trade and international banking, including its economically critical sales of oil. Think tank Oxford Analytica estimates Iran has lost a quarter of its oil revenue as a result. With the sinking rial [Iranian currency] the cost of food and everyday items in Iran has soared, leading to public frustration that today appeared to bubble over.”

09:22 PM: Ryan dodges question on effectiveness of Iran attack

Martha Raddatz asked Ryan if a military attack on Iran would be effective. But he did not answer. A bipartisan expert group recently released a report saying that an attack would only delay Iran’s nuclear program by up to 4 years. If the objective is “ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear bomb,” the U.S. “would need to conduct a significantly expanded air and sea war over a prolonged period of time, likely several years.” Former and current Israeli and American have also said that an attack would give Iran incentive to weaponize its nuclear program and spark a regional war.

09:24 PM: We don’t know Iran is going for a bomb, contra Ryan

Ryan suggests he knows that Iran’s leaders have decided to go for a nuclear bomb. Israeli and American intelligence officials aren’t so sure.

09:25 PM: Not at 6 percent, but on the upswing

Raddatz asks if Biden or Ryan can get unemployment below six percent. We’re not there yet, but just last month, the Obama administration celebrated a net gain in the number of jobs since the President took office. That’s after the worst recession since the great depression.

09:27 PM: Biden mentions Romney’s 47 percent remarks

Biden hits Ryan on Romney’s denigration of 47 percent of Americans, whom he said would never “take personal responsibility.” Watch it:

09:27 PM: The tax pledge

Paul Ryan did sign a pledge saying he wouldn’t raise taxes, at all. That pledge will actually lead to higher deficits.

09:28 PM: Unemployment is lower than when Obama took office

Biden is right, and Ryan is wrong, about “how it’s going everywhere.” In August, the unemployment rate dropped from a year before in 325 of 372 metro areas surveyed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

09:29 PM: How the auto industry turned around

Biden touted the federal rescue of the auto industry. Auto sales are at a four-year high and the auto industry is adding jobs again:

09:31 PM: Ryan: Romney didn’t want to let Detroit go bankrupt because he’s a ‘car guy’

Romney wrote an op/ed for the New York Times in 2008 called “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

09:32 PM: Right-wing accuses Biden of being ‘mean’

09:33 PM: Congressional Budget Office says stimulus worked

Ryan is attacking the stimulus as a failed policy, but the stimulus worked. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says it added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy and boosted GDP growth 0.1 percent, yet Ryan opposed it — even though he still requested funds for his district.

09:34 PM: Ryan opposed the stimulus, then requested funds from it

Biden just referenced Ryan’s stimulus letters. Here they are. Though he called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act “a failure,” Paul Ryan took full advantage of it and requested money for an energy company in his district. He wrote at least five letters to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu expressing his support for grant applicants from his district and asking that they be given “prompt and full consideration.” Ryan claims he did not know about the letters until recently, though his name is signed at the bottom of each one. Watch his defense:

09:34 PM: Ryan supported stimulus when Bush was in office

While we’re still on the topic of stimulus, it’s worth noting that Ryan hasn’t always opposed such measures. Here’s video of him advocating for it in 2002, during the Bush administration. In it, Ryan argues government spending creates jobs.

09:35 PM: Ryan distorts administration’s record on China

Paul Ryan’s claims that the Obama administration has been weak on China is just not true. During his first term, President Obama has imposed a 35 percent tariff on Chinese tire manufactures to save jobs in states like Ohio, filed seven complaints against China with the World Trade Organization and just last week blocked a Chinese company from purchasing a wind farm near a military base in Oregon.

09:35 PM: IPAB can’t ration care, and Ryan proposed a similar board in 2009

The Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, is not the “death panel” Ryan makes it out to be. In actuality, the board makes recommendations for how to cut health care spending that Congress has the ability to accept or reject. The board cannot ration care or raise revenues and — despite Ryan’s recent opposition — he actually proposed two very similar boards in 2009. Here’s a comparison between Ryan’s plans, which are in some ways more intrusive than the IPAB:


PCAACABoard StructureCommission — 5 members appointed by the President subject to Senate approval. No commissioner may engage in any other business, vocation, or employment; Forum — 15 members chosen by the Commission15 members appointed by the President subject to Senate approval. No member may engage in any other business, vocation, or employment.Operative Element“The development and periodic review and updating of standards of quality, performance measures, and medical review criteria” Offer recommendations as to how to cut back on Medicare spending costsScope of AuthorityEntire health-care system; commissioners will select specific targets.MedicareRecommendation FrequencyRecommendations must be made once a yearRecommendations are only made when the Medicare’s per capita expense exceeds its growth targetsSource of Enforcement AuthorityCommission works directly with the Secretary of Health and Human Services without congressional oversight.IPAB’s recommendations must be approved by Congress. Guideline enforcementExclude providers from federal health care programs or impose civil finesImpose cuts in health providers’ reimbursement benefits

09:35 PM: Here is why the stimulus was not ‘green pork,’ as Ryan claimed

Biden interrupts Ryan’s outright misportrayal of the $90 billion loans to energy companies, calling it “green pork.” Multiple reviews, including an independent review of all Department Of Energy loan programs by Herb Allison — finance chair for McCain for President 2008 — found no wrongdoing and these loans were not steered to friends or family, as Ryan claims.

09:35 PM: Conservatives praise VP Biden’s calling out Ryan on stimulus funds

09:36 PM: Ryan’s attack on Obama’s Medicare plan is highly misleading

Ryan says President Obama “funneled” $716 billion out of Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act, ignoring the fact that his own budget makes the exact same cuts to the program. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the cuts Obama wants to make do not come at the expense of Medicare beneficiaries — as Ryan claims — but rather, from hospitals and health care providers in the name of cutting down on waste and increasing efficiency. In addition, the CBO also estimates the cuts will extend Medicare’s solvency by eight years. Fact checkers said Ryan’s Medicare statements are “mostly false.”

09:37 PM: Ryan touted Sen. Wyden’s supposed support, but Wyden rejected his budget

Wyden not only voted against Ryan’s budget, he also called the idea that he supported it “nonsense.”

09:38 PM: Ryan advocated for privatizing Social Security

Don’t let Ryan’s apparent concern for seniors confuse you. Ryan has advocated for privatizing Social Security. If that had happened when Ryan pushed for it in 2008, people with private accounts would have fared significantly worse during the financial crisis, likely losing an average of $26,000 and having a negative real rate of return of -0.6 percent.

09:40 PM: Was Romney really a bipartisan governor?

Ryan claims Romney frequently reached across the aisle to Democrats as governor. Not really, says the New York Times: “But on closer examination, the record as governor he alluded to looks considerably less burnished than Mr. Romney suggested. Bipartisanship was in short supply; Statehouse Democrats complained he variously ignored, insulted or opposed them, with intermittent charm offensives. He vetoed scores of legislative initiatives and excised budget line items a remarkable 844 times, according to the nonpartisan research group Lawmakers reciprocated by quickly overriding the vast bulk of them.”

09:44 PM: Biden calls out Ryan’s stimulus hypocrisy

09:44 PM: The Romney/Ryan plan does turn Medicare into a voucher program

Although the Romney/Ryan campaign has shied away from calling their Medicare plan a “voucher” plan favor of the euphemistic “premium support,” that is exactly what their plan is — turning Medicare from a defined benefit into a defined contribution program. Ryan has even specifically called his plan a voucher program himself.

09:44 PM: 90 percent of seniors are satisfied with Medicare

Biden pointed out that, contrary to Ryan’s assertions, the majority of seniors are satisfied with their Medicare coverage. He’s right. A full 90 percent of seniors report that they are satisfied with their coverage under Medicare Part D.

09:48 PM: Romney would pay .82 percent in taxes under Ryan’s plan

Ryan’s tax plan in the House of Representatives would have gotten rid of capital gains, dividend, and interest taxes — meaning that Mitt Romney’s tax rate under Ryan’s plan would be .82 percent.

09:51 PM: Ryan avoids the question of who will pay more taxes

Because Romney’s tax plan is projected to raise taxes on middle class families by at least $2,000.

09:52 PM: Ryan cannot explain Romney’s tax plan

Ryan is trying his hardest not to give an explanation of the Romney-Ryan tax plan. Martha Raddatz just called him on it. The reason he can’t give more details is because the plan doesn’t make mathematical sense. Their plan to reduce rates across the board by 20 percent, and pay for it by cutting deductions, would force tax increases taxes on 95 percent of the population, while those making more than $200,000 would see a net tax cut.

09:53 PM: Ryan won’t say if he supports closing the carried interest tax loophole

Ryan says he’ll close loopholes, but has actually refused to say whether he would support closing the carried interest tax loophole, which wealthy hedge fund managers and private equity managers use to have a portion of their income taxed at 15 percent, leading to a significantly lower overall tax rate. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that closing the loophole would generate $7.4 billion in 5 years and $17.7 billion in 10 years:

09:53 PM: Ryan misleads on the corporate income tax

Ryan tried to make it seem that the U.S. has a high corporate income tax rate by comparing the 35 percent rate here to the 15 percent rate in Canada. However, due to loopholes and deductions, few U.S. companies pay the full 35 percent rate. In fact, the U.S. has the second lowest effective corporate tax rate in the developed world.

09:55 PM: Biden notes that Romney thinks ‘it’s fair’ that he pays a lower tax rate than the middle class

Romney paid a tax rate of less than 14 percent on his annual income of $20 million, a far lower rate than most middle-class Americans pay. When pressed by CBS’s Scott Pelley, Romney agreed that it’s a “fair” arrangement and the “right way to encourage economic growth.”

09:55 PM: Letting high-income Bush tax cuts expire won’t slow growth

Multiple studies have shown that allowing the high-income Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of the year will have little, if any, effect on economic growth.

09:56 PM: About those 6 studies Ryan was talking about…

Ryan claims that 6 studies say the math adds up on the Romney-Ryan tax plan. If those are the same studies Romney has touted before, they prove that Romney would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to keep his promise not to lose revenue. Two studies done by the Wall Street Journal simply reiterate right-wing talking points without crunching the numbers.

09:58 PM: CHART: Romney-Ryan want to increase defense spending

Military spending would increase under a Romney administration, even though it already accounts for 20 percent of the federal budget and 50 percent of discretionary spending:

09:58 PM: Ryan agues for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq

Ryan said that Obama should have kept U.S. troops in Iraq to prevent weapons shipments from Iran to Syria. He did not explain how having American forces there would have prevented such an outcome. Romney and Ryan have attacked Obama for ending the war in Iraq, calling it “tragic.” Watch it:

10:01 PM: Ryan demands wasteful defense spending

Though Ryan faults the Obama administration for not increasing defense spending to his preferred levels, the Pentagon says they don’t need the extra material.

10:02 PM: Navy wouldn’t be the smallest it’s been since 1917

The line that the Navy would be the smallest its been since 1917 is just not accurate. Politifact judged it “pants on fire.”

10:03 PM: Right-wing commentators are turning on the debate moderator

10:04 PM: Ryan attacks and agrees with Obama’s Afghanistan withdrawal timeline

The Romney/Ryan campaign has criticized the Obama administration’s Afghanistan policy but hasn’t offered and specifics or any substance. Tonight, Ryan endorsed Obama’s timeline to withdraw by 2014 and did not offer any alternative. “We don’t want to stay,” he said. Oddly, Ryan then criticized Obama for setting a timeline, but said he and Romney agree with it.

10:14 PM: Biden presses Ryan for details on foreign policy

Romney/Ryan have continuously criticized Obama’s foreign policy strategy without offering any viable alternatives. For instance, asked about Syria during the debate, Ryan actually pointed to a similarity: “We agree with the same red line they do, on chemical weapons…they’re right about that.”

10:18 PM: Ryan can’t defend his budget with Catholic teachings

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops sent letters to various Congressional committees harshly criticizing Ryan’s budget, saying it disproportionately cut programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.” These programs include food stamps, Medicaid, and other parts of the social safety net — the tools our society uses to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

10:19 PM: The truth about the contraception mandate

Religious institutions haven’t been forced to “violate their conscience” by paying for contraception, as Ryan insinuated. Obamacare’s contraception mandate contains a “widely accepted compromise that exempts houses of worship and other religious organizations from covering contraceptive services they object to.

10:19 PM: Ryan has opposed abortion access for rape victims since 1998

Ryan just stated that he and Romney support an exception for rape victims. But in reality, Ryan does not think rape is a valid reason for a woman to seek an abortion.

10:20 PM: Obamacare doesn’t cover abortion services

Under the Hyde Amendment, the government cannot use federal funds to pay for abortion services. Obamacare neither violates this nor allows copay-free access to abortions. The law does cover emergency contraception like Plan B, which is not an abortifacient, despite common misconceptions.

10:21 PM: Obama doesn’t fund abortions abroad

Ryan misunderstands the Obama administration’s policy, which allows foreign aid to fund lifesaving organizations that also may provide information about abortion or abortion services.

10:22 PM: Something you should know about Ryan’s record on abortion

Before Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) infamously said that women cannot get pregnant from “legitimate rape,” Ryan worked with him to try to narrow the definition of rape. Ryan has teamed up with Akin to co-sponsor eight anti-choice bills to limit women’s reproductive freedom:

10:23 PM: Ryan co-sponsored ‘personhood’ amendment

While Joe Biden said the Catholic Church believes that life begins at conception, the Vice President said he would not impose that value on anyone else. But Ryan co-sponsored a radical “personhood” amendment that endows a fertilized egg with “all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” This type of legislation would outlaw abortion, invitro fertilization, and some forms of contraception.

10:26 PM: Ryan says ‘unelected judges’ should not set our abortion policy

But he wants five unelected justices to set our health care policy. And he gave a speech last year suggesting that unelected judges should impose “limited government, low taxes, [and] sound money” upon the country, regardless of what our elected officials enact. The Constitution says nothing about judges setting economy policy — it say that choice belongs to the people’s elected representatives.

10:27 PM: Catholic leaders have denounced Ryan’s policies

Ryan’s policies have been widely criticized by Catholic scholars, nuns, and bishops. The Nuns on the Bus, who have traveled around the country to advocate for economic justice, have denounced Ryan’s budget as “immoral and unjustifiable” because it “will be putting the burden on the poor.”

10:31 PM: Ryan’s budget guts social programs for lower-income Americans

Biden just brought up the fact that Ryan’s budget really hurts low-income people. Sixty two percent of the cuts are from programs that benefit low-income people.

10:40 PM: Even conservatives think Biden did well

10:41 PM: Biden’s ‘malarkey’ tops Google search

On CNN, Soledad O’Brien reported that “malarkey” became a top search on Google after the vice president used the word during the debate.

10:53 PM: Watch Our Google Hangout

Watch ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser discuss the ins and outs of the VP debate along with the staff of Roll Call, Christian Science Monitor, and Reason: