Vice Presidential Debate Transcript

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RYAN: That's not...

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We're talking about... RADDATZ: So no massive defense increases?

RYAN: No, we're saying don't -- OK, you want to get into defense now?

RADDATZ: Yes, I do. I do, because that's another math question.

RYAN: So -- right, OK.

RADDATZ: How do you do that?

RYAN: So they proposed a $478 billion cut to defense to begin with. Now we have another $500 billion cut to defense that's lurking on the horizon. They insisted upon that cut being involved in the debt negotiations, and so we have a $1 trillion cut...

RADDATZ: Let's put the automatic defense cuts aside, OK?

RYAN: Right, OK.

RADDATZ: Let's put those aside. No one wants that.

BIDEN: I'd like to go back to that.

RADDATZ: But I want to know how you do the math and have this increase in defense spending?

BIDEN: Two trillion dollars.

RYAN: You don't cut defense by a trillion dollars. That's what we're talking about.

RADDATZ: And what -- what national security issues justify an increase?

BIDEN: Who's cutting it by $1 trillion?

RYAN: We're going to cut 80,000 soldiers, 20,000 Marines, 120 cargo planes. We're going to push the Joint Strike Fighter out...

RADDATZ: Drawing down in one war and one war...

RYAN: If these cuts go through, our Navy will be the smallest -- the smallest it has been since before World War I.

This invites weakness. Look, do we believe in peace through strength? You bet we do. And that means you don't impose these devastating cuts on our military.

So we're saying don't cut the military by a trillion dollars. Not increase it by a trillion, don't cut it by a trillion dollars.

RADDATZ: Quickly, Vice President Biden on this. I want to move on.

BIDEN: Look, we don't cut it. And I might add, this so-called -- I know we don't want to use the fancy word "sequester," this automatic cut -- that was part of a debt deal that they asked for.

And let me tell you what my friend said at a press conference announcing his support of the deal. He said, and I'm paraphrase, We've been looking for this moment for a long time.

RYAN: Can I tell you what that meant?

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We've been looking for bipartisanship for a long time.

BIDEN: And so the bipartisanship is what he voted for, the automatic cuts in defense if they didn't act.

And beyond that, they asked for another -- look, the military says we need a smaller, leaner Army, we need more special forces, we need -- we don't need more M1 tanks, what we need is more UAVs.

RADDATZ: Some of the military.

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: Not some of the military. That was the decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended to us and agreed to by the president. That is a fact.

RADDATZ: Who answers to a civilian leader.

BIDEN: They made the recommendation first.

RADDATZ: OK. Let's move on to Afghanistan.

RYAN: Can I get into that for a second?

RADDATZ: I'd like to move on to Afghanistan please. And that's one of the biggest expenditures this country has made, in dollars, and more importantly in lives.

We just passed the sad milestone of losing 2,000 U.S. troops there in this war. More than 50 of them were killed this year by the very Afghan forces we are trying to help.

Now, we've reached the recruiting goal for Afghan forces, we've degraded Al Qaida. So tell me, why not leave now? What more can we really accomplish? Is it worth more American lives?

RYAN: We don't want to lose the gains we've gotten. We want to make sure that the Taliban does not come back in and give Al Qaida a safe haven.

We agree with the administration on their 2014 transition.

Look, when I think about Afghanistan, I think about the incredible job that our troops have done. You've been there more than the two of us combined. First time I was there in 2002, it was amazing to me what they were facing. When I went to the Ahgandah (ph) Valley in Kandahar before the surge, I sat down with a young private in the 82nd from the Monamanee (ph) Indian reservation who would tell me what he did every day, and I was in awe. And to see what they had in front of them.

And then to go back there in December, to go throughout Helmand with the Marines, to see what they had accomplished, it's nothing short of amazing.

What we don't want to do is lose the gains we've gotten. Now, we've disagreed from time to time on a few issues. We would have more likely taken into accounts the recommendations from our commanders, General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen, on troop levels throughout this year's fighting season. We've been skeptical about negotiations with the Taliban, especially while they're shooting at us.

But we want to see the 2014 transition be successful, and that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.

RADDATZ: Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: Martha, let's keep our eye on the ball. The reason -- I've been in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq 20 times. I've been up in the Konar (ph) Valley. I've been throughout that whole country, mostly in a helicopter, and sometimes in a vehicle.

The fact is, we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, Al Qaida. We've decimated Al Qaida central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose.

And, in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It's their responsibility to take over their own security. That's why with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we've agreed on a gradual drawdown so we're out of there by the year 20 -- in the year 2014.

My friend and the governor say it's based on conditions, which means it depends. It does not depend for us. It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security. We have trained over 315,000, mostly without incident. There have been more than two dozen cases of green-on-blue where Americans have been killed. If we do not -- if the measures the military has taken do not take hold, we will not go on joint patrols. We will not train in the field. We'll only train in the -- in the Army bases that exist there.

But we are leaving. We are leaving in 2014. Period. And in the process, we're going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We've been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now, all we're doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security.

It's their responsibility, not America's.

RADDATZ: What -- what conditions could justify staying, Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: We don't want to stay. We want -- look, one of my best friends in Janesville, a reservist, is at a forward-operating base in eastern Afghanistan right now. Our wives are best friends. Our daughters are best friends. I want -- I want him and all of our troops to come home as soon and safely as possible.

We want to make sure that 2014 is successful. That's why we want to make sure that we give our commanders what they say they need to make it successful. We don't want to extend beyond 2014. That's the point we're making. You know, if it was just this, I'd feel like we would -- we would be able to call this a success, but it's not. What we are witnessing as we turn on our television screens these days is the absolute unraveling of the Obama foreign policy. Problems are growing at home, but -- problems are growing abroad, but jobs aren't growing here at home.

RADDATZ: Let me go back to this. He says we're absolutely leaving in 2014. You're saying that's not an absolute, but you won't talk about what conditions would justify...

(CROSSTALK)

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