Vice Presidential debate 2012: Resume versus rhetoric


The stage was set for a showdown ahead of the Vice Presidential debate.

BOSTON — Once anticipated as an entertaining sideshow between two scrappy candidates, the stakes for tonight’s showdown between Vice President Joe Biden and GOP challenger Paul Ryan have risen considerably.

In the wake of last week’s presidential debate in which many claim Romney to have won, the tide and tone of pollsters and pundits across the country is shifting yet again, giving Biden and Ryan a unique opportunity to affect the campaigns in a substantive way at a critical time in the ever-tightening race to the White House. 

Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent at ABC News will be moderating the debate. Similar to the presidential debate held in Denver last week, questions regarding domestic policy will be on the table, but the scope of the VP debate has been broadened to cover foreign policy as well. 

More from GlobalPost: VP debate: Clash of the demi-titans

VP Joe Biden, a long-serving member and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has a strong and reputable track record working in the foreign policy arena. 

Alternatively, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., author of the House GOP budget, has spent his congressional career focused on fiscal policy. However, what Ryan may lack in foreign policy experience he has certainly made up for in rhetoric. The bright-eyed budget wonk has gone on the offensive, publicly defending his foreign policy chops while also cutting down the Obama administration for mishandling recent protests in the Middle East.

In any case, for the two men who are vying for an office which John Adams once deemed “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived”, the pressure may be unprecedented, but it is certainly on.

More from GlobalPost: What if the world could vote?

So tonight, when the earnest, if gaffe-prone, Vice President and the sharp-tongued, young budget junkie from Wisconsin take the stage at Centre College in Danville, KY, the question that should be on everyone's minds is: What will win – the resume or the rhetoric?


VP Joe Biden: Resume

  • Served in the U.S.. Senate (D-DE) from January 3, 1973 – January 15, 2009
  • Much of the focus during Biden's early career was on arms control. During the Reagan administration, he argued for strict
    adherence to the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia, which President Reagan's aides sought to loosely interpret, to make way for a space-based missile defense program
  • As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, he has presided over more than 50 hearings since January 2007
  • Chairman of the International Narcotics Control Caucus from January 4, 2007 – January 3, 2009
  • He served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on European affairs
  • He was among the first to advocate lifting the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslims and supporting them with NATO air power, a policy known as "lift and strike." This policy became the basis of a new policy that was eventually followed by a successful NATO peacekeeping effort.

Rep. Paul Ryan: Rhetoric

  • “I have more foreign policy experience coming into this job than President Obama had coming into his,” Ryan said. “I’ve been in Congress for 14 years. He was in the Senate far, far less time than that.”
  • “We think [Obama's] dragged his feet on Iran and as a result of his poor Iran policy they’re that much closer to a nuclear weapon. The president has had some successes – Osama Bin Laden is a perfect example – but, by and large, I think what the president is doing here is he can’t run on his record, so he is offering up this kind of rhetoric.”
  • “I’ve voted to send men and women to war. I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve met with our troops to get their perspectives. I’ve been to the funerals, I’ve talked to the widows, I’ve talked to the wives, the moms and the dads. That’s something. That matters. I take this very seriously.”
  • “We need peace through strength; that we need to have a strong national defense. I wrote the bill to prevent the sequester from happening because we think those devastating defense cuts will dramatically weaken our national security.”
  • "I think sending our foreign policy decision to be cleared in the UN Security Council, where we’re giving Russia and China veto clout over us? That’s not good policy. So What we’ve done through the Obama administration is we’ve increased the clout in Russia and China. I think that was a mistake.”


Election 2012: Decoding foreign policy with Jean Mackenzie: