Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact Check

Oct 11, 2012 4:30pm

★ABC News is Liveblogging the Vice Presidential Debate in Danville, Kentucky★

Tune in to on Thursday for livestreaming coverage of the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate moderated by ABC’s Martha Raddatz in Danville, Ky. We’ll be fact checking right here at the live blog. Be sure to refresh this page to get the latest updates from ABC News’ Politics team. Curated by Z. Byron Wolf and Sarah Parnass.

Skip To…
Get To Know the Candidates
The President’s Relationship with Israel’s Prime Minister
Fact or Fiction: Does Obamacare Pay for Abortions?
Wrapping Up the Debate
Fact or Fiction: Obamacare Panel Would Deny Care to Seniors
Fact or Fiction: Iran has Enough Material for Five Bombs
Candidates’ Gestures Slideshow
Romney and Ryan Would Cut Tax Revenues by $5 Trillion
Biden’s Kennedy Comment
Insta-Analysis from Amy Walter
Fact or Fiction: Ryan’s Medicare Plan Would Cost Seniors Over $6k
Fact or Fiction: Climbing Unemployment in Scranton and US
Is Obama taking from Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act?
Fact or Fiction: Ryan Millions for Embassy Security
Fact or Fiction: Romney Would have Kept US in Iraq
McConnell: White House Found Libya Terror Attack ‘Inconvenient’
A Surprise from Paul Ryan’s House Opponent
Romney ‘Severely Kidding’ About His ‘Severely Conservative’ Positions, Obama Says
Romney Hits Obama on Libya
Debate Dinner of Champions?
‘Dead Fred’ Will Be Watching Debate
A Prayer for Romney
11 Things You’ll Hear Tonight
Romney is Winning Battle of the Spinners
Romney Refines on Health Care
Debate Rules and Format
Biden’s History With Social Security
How Paul Ryan Prepped
How Joe Biden Prepped
Paul Ryan’s Bicep
Betting on Biden
Pre-Game Show
Meet Martha Raddatz

Wrapping Up: The Debate on Twitter
11:05 p.m.

According to Chris Wilson over at the Yahoo!’s Signal, powered by Bluefin, peak social media volume for the debate was about half that of the first presidential debate — 60k Tweets per minute at its peak. The total was 3.7 million, compared to 11.2 million last week.

Without question, the style of the debate was debated more than the substance. There was tremendous volume around Biden’s laughing and Martha Raddatz’s moderation, split between praise and anger over not reigning Biden in sufficiently.

Biden’s laugh alone got 500,000 mentions.

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The President’s Relationship with Israel’s Prime Minister
11:21 p.m.

Biden: Now, with regard to Bibi, who’s been my friend 39 years, the president has met with Bibi a dozen times. He’s spoken to Bibi Netanyahu as much as he’s spoken to anybody.

Sunlen Miller has the facts:

Obama and Netanyahu only met 9 times face-to-face since Obama took the White House. But the two leaders have had over 20 phone calls in addition to these meetings. It’s not clear if by “anyone” Biden is referring to heads of state, but that’s the way we’ll take it.

Obama and Netanyahu have had over 20 phone calls and met 9 times face-to-face since Obama took the White House.

But by comparison, Obama has had a similar number of total meetings (phone calls and face-to-face meetings) with Russian President Medvedev and Chinese President Hu as well.

The White House’s take -they say Obama has had more one-on-one meetings with Netanyahu than any other foreign leader since being in office and say the Biden claim of “as much” is correct if you define it by face-to-face meetings. They also argue that it’s not just the # of meetings that Biden is talking about but the number of hours spent with those foreign leaders on the phone and in meetings, and those times are not always made public (for example, WH does not divulge how long all the phone calls last).

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Does Obamacare Pay for Abortions?
11:17 p.m.

Ryan: With respect to abortion, the Democratic party used to say they want it to be safe legal and rare, now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding. Tax payer funding in Obamacare, tax payer funding with foreign aid, the vice president himself went to China and said he sympathized or wouldn’t second guess their one child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That to me is pretty extreme.

Serena Marshall has the facts:

Per a White House Executive 2010 order “the Act specifically prohibits the use of tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments to pay for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) in the health insurance exchanges that will be operational in 2014.”
Additionally, “the Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly created health insurance exchanges.” The Hyde Amendment, introduced in 1976 in response to Roe v. Wade, states that federal funds may not be used to pay for abortions.

But there was controversy when Obamacare was passed. Some of the plans that receive government funding will cover abortion services, but separate accounts must be maintained so that an individual’s premiums and not the government funds pay for the services.

In an April, 2012 interview with the Huffington Post, Erin Shields, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said the following regarding ACA and abortion:

“Under the new health care law, federal funds continue not to be used for abortion services, except those in cases of rape or incest or where the life of the woman is endangered,” she said. “No one will be required to choose a plan that covers these services and no taxpayer dollars will be spent on them. Before choosing a health plan, consumers will know whether the plan covers these services. And if it does, payments will be made into a separate account to ensure no federal dollars fund these services.”

As for Biden going to China and “sympathizing” with their one-child policy, Ryan was referring to the Vice President’s August trip to China. That’s true, The comment was made in response to a question concerning U.S. response to fiscal problems. Biden said the one child policy was not going to be sustainable long-term.

“But as I was talking to some of your leaders, you share a similar concern here in China. You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”

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Obamacare Panel Would Deny Care to Seniors
10:57 p.m.

RYAN: And then they put this new Obamacare board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year, in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors. This board by the way, it is 15 people, the President is supposed to appoint them next year, and not one of them has to have medical training.

ABC’s Chris Good has the facts:

The Medicare board, known as IPAB, is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The health care law lays out a set of qualifications for members of the board, including health-care training and expertise.

The law specifically states that the appointed membership of the Board “shall include (but not be limited to) physicians and other health professionals.” That suggests the lawmakers wanted health care professionals on the board. But the president has the authority.

If Medicare spending exceeds its target growth rate, IPAB is charged with making suggestions—for Congress’s approval on fast-track status—to lower costs. However, according to the independent Kaiser Family Foundation, the law bars the board from suggesting cuts to benefits.

“The law is really explicit in this particular area, that says the IPAB cannot ration care, cut benefits, raise premiums, or change eligibility,” Kaiser health expert Tricia Neuman told ABC News. IPAB is “limited in what it can recommend.”

Indeed, the actual language includes: “The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care… the proposal shall not include any recommendation that would reduce payment rates for items and services furnished.”

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Iran has Enough Material for Five Bombs
10:51 p.m.

Ryan: When Barack Obama was elected they had enough fissile material – nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They are racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re 4 years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.

Dana Hughes has the facts:

Iran did not restart its civilian nuclear program again until February 2007, a year before Obama took office. As for Ryan’s claim Iran has enough material for five bombs, it’s complicated, but an ISIS report in March, shows that Iran could conceivably achieve that. However, the conservative estimate is that there’s enough material for one to three. And the “fissile material” Ryan refers to has not been enriched to the levels needed to become a nuclear weapon. ISIS concludes that the likelihood of Iran attempting to enrich the material to the levels needed now is low because it would be detected and ensure a military strike, and that current sanctions are working.

From the ISIS report:

“Without past negotiated outcomes, international pressure, sanctions, and intelligence operations, Iran would likely have nuclear weapons by now. Iran has proven vulnerable to international pressure. It now faces several inhibitions against building nuclear weapons, not least of which is fear of a military strike by Israel and perhaps others if it ―breaks out‖ by egregiously violating its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and moves to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons.”

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Click below for photos of gestures and emotions at the debate

gty joe biden paul ryan gestures ll 121011 wblog Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact Check

Romney and Ryan Would Cut Tax Revenues by $5 Trillion
10:10 p.m.

Ryan: You can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle class tax payers.

Amy Bingham has the facts:

Biden claimed at the debate that the Romney-Ryan tax plan cuts $5 trillion in revenues. That is true.

The GOP nominee’s plan calls for a 20-percent across-the-board reduction in tax rates, eliminate the estate tax, eliminate taxes on investment income for people earning less than $200,000 and cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. His plan would add up to a $456 billion reduction in federal revenue by 2015, or $5 trillion over ten years, according to a study by the Tax Policy Center.

Biden said it was “not mathematically possible” to make up for those tax cuts through closing loopholes, as Romney has suggested he would do to make his plan revenue-neutral, unless Romney ends widely-popular loopholes such as deductions for mortgage interest, health insurance and tax breaks for attending college.

According to an analysis from the Tax Policy Center, Ryan is incorrect based on the current version of Romney’s tax plan. The center’s analysis estimates Romney would have to eliminate 65 percent of all the loopholes in the tax system to make up for Romney’s tax cuts.

The ten largest tax loopholes — which include widely popular deductions like those for the working poor, mortgage income, having children and employer contributions to health care — added up to $650 billion in lost revenue and accounted for 68 percent of all tax loopholes in 2010, according to data from the Congressional Research Service.

Therefore in order to cut 65 percent of tax loopholes necessary to make up for Romney’s proposed $500 billion tax cuts in one year, Romney would have to dip into the large, popular loopholes that currently benefit millions of middle and low-income Americans.

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ABC’s Arlette Saenz on Biden’s Kennedy Comment
10:15 p.m.

Just a bit ago, Biden asked Ryan: “Now you’re Jack Kennedy?”

In the 1988 VP debate, an older Lloyd Bentsen said to a younger Dan Quayle, in much the same manner, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

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Insta-Analysis from Amy Walter:

“Biden came to the debate to fire up and energize the base, Ryan came to reassure/sway persuadable voters.”

Ryan’s Medicare Plan Would Cost Seniors $6,400
9:43 p.m.

Biden: Folks. Use your common sense. Who do you trust on this? A man who introduced a bill that would raise it – forty — $6400 a year, knowing it and passing it and Romney saying he’d sign it or me and the President. (14) Ryan: That statistic was completely misleading but more importantly -Biden: So those are the facts. Ryan -this is what politicians do when they don’t have a record to run on.

ABC’s Chris Good has the facts:


This figure is based on an outdated analysis of Paul Ryan’s Medicare-reform plan—a plan Ryan did introduce, as Biden said. Mitt Romney now says he does not support that plan, but something closer to the Ryan/Wyden plan introduced later with some significant changes.
Looking at Ryan’s 2011 plan, the Congressional Budget Office estimated seniors would pay more for their health care under Ryan’s plan by 2022. The $6,400 figure comes from a Center for Budget and Policy Priorities study. based on the CBO’s projections. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities projected that seniors’ out-of-pocket costs would rise from $6,150 to $12,500 per year on average under Ryan’s plan.

Since then, Ryan has made some changes to his plan, removing a cap on “premium-support payments” and including a traditional-Medicare, government-paid health plan as an alternative to private plans, from which seniors would choose on an exchange.

So, while the $6,000 estimate applies to a previous iteration of Ryan’s plan, the number is old.


The Romney campaign points to the elimination of premium caps as a major difference between the two plans, and a major reason why the 2011 analysis is no longer fair to cite. However, Ryan maintained a cap on overall Medicare spending, and independent experts see this as a de facto limit on the government’s contributions toward seniors’ coverage.

The CBO has not conducted comparable analysis of Ryan’s 2012 plan, so there is no comparable estimate of how seniors’ out-of-pocket costs would change under the latest version. Ryan’s 2012 plan did not include enough details for such analysis to be conducted.

Independent experts disagree on whether out-of-pocket costs would still rise, on average, under Ryan’s 2012 plan. Paul Van de Water of the independent Center for Budget and Policy Priorities maintains that out-of-pocket costs would likely rise by some amount. Tricia Neuman of the Kaiser Family Foundation says it’s impossible to calculate the average, while noting that in cities and counties where health care costs more, Medicare recipients will be faced with a choice between paying more for Medicare or buying a cheaper private plan that could offer different benefits than Ryan’s traditional-Medicare coverage plan.

One more thing to add: Biden claimed Mitt Romney said he would sign Ryan’s budget that would raise costs by $6,400—the 2011 version passed March 29 of that year.

From ABC’s Emily Friedman on June 2, 2011:
On health care, Romney responded “yes” when asked if he would sign the plan written by Rep. Paul Ryan that would restructure Medicare if it reached his desk as President, but quickly added that he would be offering his own plan.

“His plan is not the plan I’ll put forward, I have my own plan,” said Romney. “I’ll be putting that out before I debate President Obama.”

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Climbing Unemployment in Scranton and US
9:25 p.m.

red half true fact fact fiction ribbon blog 640x100 Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact Check
Ryan: You know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is today? Biden: Sure do. Ryan: It’s 10%. Biden: Yeah Ryan: You know what it was the day you guys came in? 8.5 % Biden: Yeah. Ryan: That’s how it’s going all around America.

Jon Karl’s Ruling: Half True.

He’s almost right about the unemployment rate in Scranton … but he’s wrong that it is higher nationally.

Serena Marshall has the facts: The current unemployment rate in Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area is 9.6 percent and it was 8.4 percent in January of 2008, , according to BLS data.

But that does not tell the unemployment situation in the rest of the country or even in Pennsylvania. The national rate has fallen from a high of more than 10 percent to 7.8 percent in September. The most recently available unemployment rate is 8.1 percent, down from a high of 10 percent in October of 2009.

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Is Obama taking from Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act?
9:40 p.m.

red not quite fact fact fiction ribbon blog 640x100 Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact Check
Ryan said: “They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, turning Medicare into a piggy bank for Obamacare.”

ABC’s Greg Krieg has the facts:

The now-famous $716 billion is not a “cut” to Medicare, in the sense that it does not take from the “trust fund” or reduce the amount of money available to beneficiaries. Rather, the Obama plan, like Paul Ryan’s, puts caps on the amount the government will pay to health-care providers. And while some of those savings, which were codified in The Affordable Care Act, have been counted by the White House against the new costs incurred by health-care overhaul, there is no real connection; there are no dollar bills once marked “Medicare” that have been scrubbed clean and shifted to cover expenses under the Obama health care law.

Jon Karl’s rating:

Not quite factual … a $716 billion reduction in future Medicare spending is part of the financing for Obamacare. But these are reductions in future increases (not cuts), and they explicitly do not cut benefits. Finally – Ryan included the same reductions in his own budget.

Serena Marshall has this to add:

But first, what is Medicare Part A? It is Hospital Insurance and helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay), some home health care and hospice care.
The 1 in 6 statement is from a 2010 memorandum from the Chief Actuary:

“Simulations by the Office of the Actuary suggest that roughly 15 percent of Part A providers would become unprofitable within the 10-year projection period as a result of the productivity adjustments.8 Although this policy could be monitored over time to avoid such an outcome, changes would likely result in smaller actual savings than shown here for these provisions.”

However, as pointed out, a 2012 report finds that the cuts who benefit Medicare over the long term. In that report from April of 2012, the [Obama's] Affordable Care Act makes important changes to the Medicare program and substantially improves its financial outlook -

“The Board of Trustees believes that solutions can and must be found to ensure the financial integrity of HI in the short and long term and to reduce the rate of growth in Medicare costs through viable means, building on the measures enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act…Moreover, the early introduction of reforms increases the time available for affected individuals and organizations—including health care providers, beneficiaries, and taxpayers—to adjust their expectations.”

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Ryan Cut Millions for Embassy Security
9:08 p.m.

Biden: “The Congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for.”

ABC’s John Parkinson has the facts:

The key here is that VP Biden takes his claim from the Ryan budget, not the spending bills passed by Congress that actually slashed funding for embassy security.

Biden’s charge comes from assuming that non-defense discretionary spending proposed by Ryan in his budget would make cuts off the top of each program. Ryan’s budget called for a 19 percent across-the-board cut to non-defense discretionary spending in the year 2014. Assuming an across-the-board distribution of cuts, his proposal would cut $298 million for Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance, and it’d slash Protection of Foreign Missions and Officials by $5 million, for a total of $303 million. Still, that number also includes money that’s used for construction and maintenance.

Biden suggests this cut that has already been realized as a result of the Ryan Budget, but in his budget there are no spending levels enumerated for something as specific as Worldwide Security Protection. Funding for that comes from the State/Foreign Ops bill or the Site Security Team (SST – what actually provided security in Benghazi), which comes from DoD’s budget.

Plus, the Ryan Budget never became law. It’s not possible to know exactly how cuts to these programs would shake out because the Ryan Budget resolution doesn’t go into that much detail. If the Ryan budget was ever passed, the House appropriations committee would have to work within that blueprint to pass the appropriations bills and figure out exactly how the money is divvied up and which programs would suffer the brunt of the cuts.

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Fact or Fiction: Romney Would have Kept US in Iraq
9:04 p.m.

Biden: On Iraq the president said he would end the war, Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, he ended it, Governor Romney said we should have left 30,000 troops there.

Emily Friedman and Luis Martinez have the facts:

On Fox News in December of 2011, Romney said he would have negotiated a “status of forces” agreement with the Iraqi government that would leave “between 10 and 30,000 troops in Iraq.

Here’s that exchange:

How would Mitt Romney handle the situation if he were president? Let’s ask him. Former governor of Massachusetts and republican presidential candidate joins us again. So governor, if Mitt Romney were president today what, would you do about Iraq? ROMNEY: well, first of all if I were president, I would have carried out the status of forces agreement that was long anticipated that actually secretary Panetta, president Obama, secretary of defense indicated he wanted to have as well, which would have allowed to us have somewhere between 10 and 30,000 troops in Iraq, which would -

It should be pointed out that the Obama administration and the Bush administration before it had been in talks to negotiate a “status of forces” agreement to leave some combat troops in Iraq. But the Obama administration was unable to reach accord with the Iraqis. And that helped lead to the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.

As to whether Mitt Romney called the withdrawal of combat troops “tragic” – he did.

“It is my view that the withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq by the end of this year is an enormous mistake, and failing by the Obama administration,” Mr. Romney said on Veterans Day of 2011 at a roundtable with veterans in South Carolina. “The precipitous withdrawal is unfortunate — it’s more than unfortunate, I think it’s tragic. It puts at risk many of the victories that were hard won by the men and women who served there.”

McConnell: White House Found Libya Terror Attack ‘Inconvenient’
9:07 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the Obama administration’s “suspicious” explanation for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Ryan’s House Opponent Travels to Kentucky Asking for His Own Debate
8:51 p.m.

ABC’s Chris Good reports: As far as Rob Zerban is concerned, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is debating the wrong guy.

Zerban, who is challenging Rep. Ryan, R-Wis., for his House seat, traveled to Danville, Ky., for Ryan’s debate there against Vice President Joe Biden to tell anyone who would listen that he wants a debate against Ryan for himself.

“He’s running around the county carrying water for Mitt Romney, and he’ll only fly to the district for $1,000-a-plate dinners,” Zerban told ABC News. “And if he can find time to do that, he should come back to the district and find time to debate.”

Ryan is on the ballot for re-election in his House district even as he runs alongside Mitt Romney as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee and, despite Zerban’s protestations, Ryan has yet to grant him a debate. With his hands presumably full running in a national campaign, Ryan is not expected to.

The underdog Democrat says that’s a slap in the face to Wisconsin voters.

“He can ignore the voters if he wants, but he does so at his own peril,” Zerban told ABC News.

More on Zerbian from Good.

Romney ‘Severely Kidding’ About His ‘Severely Conservative’ Positions, Obama Says
8:28 p.m.

While Mitt Romney was in North Carolina tonight attacking President Obama over the terror attack at the Benghazi consulate on Sept. 11, 2012, Barack Obama was at the final fundraiser of his campaign in Florida, arguing that Romney’s increasingly more moderate posture on some issues is a ruse.

ABC’s Mary Bruce reports: President Obama used the final fundraiser of his record-breaking campaign season tonight to cast Mitt Romney as an extreme conservative trying to reinvent himself as a moderate just weeks before the election.

“After a year in which he has been calling himself ‘severely conservative,’ he’s now trying to convince us that he was severely kidding about everything,” the president told some 700 supporters who’d paid $500 and up to see the president at the JW Marriott Marquis. His remarks echoed ones he’d made earlier today at the University of Miami, which he accidentally referred to tonight as Miami University.

In the week since Obama’s lackluster debate performance, his campaign has retooled its messaging to paint Romney as a flip-flopper, eager to change his positions to sway voters.

Read more from Mary Bruce.

Romney Says Obama Fails To Grasp Seriousness of Libya Attacks
8:15 p.m.

Mitt Romney offered his harshest attack to date on the Obama administration’s handling of last month’s terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans, accusing the president of failing to “grasp the seriousness” of the incident.

Romney drew on comments made earlier today by Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter on CNN, in which she accused Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan of making the situation in Libya a “political circus” and blaming him and Ryan for its becoming “the political topic it is” to make his point.

“His campaign said this today about the Benghazi terrorist attack,” Romney began at a rally in Asheville, N.C., this evening. “They said and I quote, ‘The entire reason this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.’”

Read more from Emily Friedman here.

Debate Dinner of Champions? Ryan, Biden Chow on Pre-Game Meals
6:12 p.m.

Paul Ryan and Joe Biden won’t have to weigh in ahead of their matchup tonight, but the vice presidential contenders are packing in pregame meals before their debate.

Before heading into the arena at Centre College in Danville, Ky., Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, known for his conscientious diet and exercise regime, planned to eat a light dinner of salmon and rice, according to aids. He had a tuna salad sandwich for lunch today, and spent the rest of his day studying up, relaxing with his family and working out.

Vice President Joe Biden also kept things light, planning a pre-debate meal of grilled chicken, with spaghetti and salad.

Read more from Russell Goldman here.

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‘Dead Fred’ Will Be Watching Debate
5:48 p.m.

Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody reports: Fred’s dead, baby, but he’ll have the best seat in the house for the vice presidential debate.

Known as “Dead Fred,” a painting of former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Centre College alum Frederick M. Vinson is a fixture at major events at the school hosting Thursday’s debate. The real Vinson died in 1953, and the brothers within his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, have brought “him”–the painting–to every football game since. Twelve years ago, he sat in a chair at the vice presidential debate between Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney, and he’ll watch Joe Biden and Paul Ryan duke it out from an alcove spot this year.

Whether it’s a kegger, a mixer or a nationally televised debate that could play a role in dictating the direction of the most powerful nation for years to come, Dead Fred rarely misses a party.

“He’s a bro,” said Doug Spoelker, a senior and Phi Delta Theta fraternity brother. “He’s a wingman.”

The original painting of Dead Fred–the one that will watch the debate–lives in the alumni office at the school, while a smaller copy–the one at all the football games–adorns the meeting room at the Phi Delta Theta house on fraternity row. A third keeps watch over the residences of Vinson Hall dorm.

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A Prayer for Romney
5:40 p.m.

ht mitt romney billy graham tweet lpl 121011 wn Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact CheckEvangelist Billy Graham told Mitt Romney today that he would do anything he could to help his candidacy during a meeting at the religious leader’s North Carolina home.

Towards the end of thirty minute meeting, Graham led a prayer for the Romney’s and said “I’ll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that,” according to a Romney aide who sat in on the private meeting.

Graham is 93 years old and is in frail health – he was hospitalized over the summer after caught a case of Bronchitis and has had prostate cancer and been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

But today Graham appeared upbeat during the meeting with Romney and Graham’s son, Rev. Franklin Graham.

Graham was seated on a big leather chair as he chatted with Romney about his late father, George Romney, who died in 1995 after suffering heart attack while working out on a treadmill. The elder Graham considered George Romney to be a friend, according to an aide.

More here from Emily Friedman

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11 Things We Can Almost Guarantee You’ll Hear Tonight
5:31 p.m.

Nobody could have predicted that Big Bird would have been the big star (besides Mitt Romney) of the first presidential debate or that President Obama would be perceived as the big loser. Even Obama admitted to Diane Sawyer this week that Romney had a good night and he had a bad night.

Tonight’s vice presidential debate will likely hold additional surprises, but not everything will be unexpected. Certain words and catchy phrases don’t just pop out of the candidates’ mouths. They’ve been campaigning and cramming for the debate for months. Here’s a look, in no particular order, at 10 of the things the ABC News producers who cover Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan think you’re most likely to hear at vice presidential debate.

Joe Biden is almost certain to say “folks,” and Paul Ryan is almost certain to drag out a personal connection to Kentucky, although we’re not sure what it will be.

More here from Shush Walshe and Arlette Saenz

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Romney is Winning Battle of the Spinners
5:29 p.m.

ABC’s Michael Falcone reports: The Obama campaign found themselves outnumbered in the spin room at last week’s debate in Denver, and it appears that the Romney campaign is planning another show of overwhelming force in the spin room tonight at the vice presidential debate in Danville, Ky.

Team Obama is sending 11 surrogates tonight, including Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Beau Biden.

The Romney campaign, meanwhile, is sending no fewer than 32 — current and former senators, members of congress, campaign advisers.

More from Michael Falcone

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Romney Further Refines on Health Care
5:23 p.m.

Mitt Romney appears to have altered his position on the Obamacare ban on preexisting conditions in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch editorial board.

“You have to deal with those people who are currently uninsured, and help them have the opportunity to have insurance,” said Romney, according to the paper.

“But then once people have all had that opportunity to become insured, if someone chooses not to become insured, and waits for 10 or 20 years and then gets ill and then says ‘Now I want insurance,’ you could hardly say to an insurance company, ‘Oh, you must take this person now that they’re sick,’ or there’d literally be no reason to have insurance.

“It’d be the same thing as saying, ‘Look, you’re not required to have homeowners insurance, but if your home catches fire, then you can get insurance at that point.’ That wouldn’t make a lot of sense.”

But his reference to a “choice” with regard to preexisting conditions and his inclusion of people “who are currently uninsured” would seem to contradict earlier statements from Romney and his own website, which suggest no ban on preexisting conditions should be extended for people who don’t currently have insurance.

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Debate Rules and Format
5:04 p.m.

ap vp debate prep nt 121011 wn Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact CheckABC’s Rick Klein reports: Tonight’s one and only vice presidential debate will look and feel a little different than last week’s first presidential debate.

Like the presidential debates, tonight’s debate will last 90 minutes and will not have any commercial breaks. ABC News’ Martha Raddatz will be the only moderator, and she alone has developed and will ask the questions – without consultation with either campaign.

Unlike last week, Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan will be seated, next to each other and at the same table as Raddatz. The look will be similar to the vice presidential debates of 2000 and 2004, though not 2008, when Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin stood behind podiums.

Another difference will be format. Tonight’s debate will be roughly evenly split between foreign and domestic topics. Last week’s debate was domestic only; there will be a with a town-hall format and a foreign-policy debate to follow over the next two weeks.

And while Jim Lehrer moderated a debate broken into six 15-minute segments, Raddatz’s debate will be broken into nine 10-minute segments.

The Romney-Ryan campaign has asked, via the Commission on Presidential Debates, that Rep. Ryan be referred to as “Mr. Ryan” throughout the debate.
Read more from Rick Klein

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In ’84 Biden Suggests Social Security Freeze
4:25 p.m. ET

ap joe biden 1984 thg 121011 wn Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact CheckABC’s Jonathan Karl has this pop quiz: Which vice presidential candidate said this about his budget proposal:
“While this program is severe, it is the only proposal that will halt the upward spiral of deficits.”

And this: “Within the next 12 to 18 months this country will face an economic and political crisis of extraordinary proportions if Congress refuses to take decisive action on the deficits that we face.”

Here’s a hint: This candidate proposed cutting spending across-the-board, including reduced spending on Social Security and he even said the debt ceiling should not be increased without spending cuts.

Who is this vice presidential candidate?

Vice President Joe Biden. That’s Who.

Read more from Jon Karl

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How Paul Ryan Prepped
4:08 p.m. ET

ap paul ryan jef 121009 wn Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact CheckABC’s Shush Walshe reports that Paul Ryan has been engaged in debate preps since Sept. 2nd and had an intensive “debate camp” at a resort in Wintergreen, Virginia earlier this month. One Ryan aide said the idea is to prepare for a conversation with an unpredictable “Irish uncle.” Playing the role of Biden for Ryan was former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who served under President Bush. Olson is notable for two other reasons. His wife died on Sept. 11, 2001, when her plane crashed into the Pentagon. And he is a notable Republican proponent of same sex marriage and argued the issue before the California Supreme Court.  Read more from Shush.

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How Joe Biden Prepped
4:01 p.m. ET

gty joe biden ll 121009 wn Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact CheckABC’s Arlette Saenz reports that by ABC News’ count, Biden has participated in 23 debates over his career as a senator, presidential candidate, and vice presidential candidate. During the 2008 election, he appeared at 14 debates as a Democratic presidential contender and sparred with Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin at the lone VP debate of the cycle. Biden also took part in two presidential debates when he ran for the Democratic nomination as president in 1988. Ryan has debated eight times in the 13 years he’s been a congressman. Playing the part of Paul Ryan in Biden’s preps was Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. Ryan chairs that committee, so the idea is that Van Hollen knows how to face off against him.

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Pre-Game Show
3:57 p.m. ET

Watch our debate pre-game show, which was anchored by ABC’s Amy Walter and Dan Harris and featured Yahoo! News’ Olivier Knox. They interviewed former Ohio Gov.Ted Strickland and Mitt Romney’s last running mate, former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who helped Paul Ryan with his debate preparations. Read more about the show.

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Betting on Biden
3:31 p.m. ET

President Obama needs a big showing from Vice President Joe Biden, writes ABC’s Greg Krieg. New polls released today and Wednesday show Romney pulling near even with President Obama in a number of battleground states, all but erasing a deficit that had been building since the conventions and spiked with the release of the infamous “47 percent” video in late September.

The Romney revival has been pegged to his performance — and Obama’s lack thereof — during their showdown last week.”I had a bad night,” the president told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer Wednesday when asked about his the Denver debate. “It’s not the first time I’ve had a bad night.”

Obama said “the fundamentals of what this race is about haven’t changed” and, when asked whether he thought he’d win re-election, said, simply, “Yes.”

Read more about the lay of the land heading into the debate.

Obama Campaign Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the president called Vice President Biden from Air Force One en route to Florida to wish him good luck in the debate tonight.  As we’ve previously reported, the president will watch the VP debate from aboard Air Force One on his ride home tonight. (Devin Dwyer)

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Paul Ryan’s Bicep
3:00 p.m. ET

ht paul ryan time5 jef 121011 wblog Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact Check

(Gregg Segal/TIME)

If Mitt Romney playing Jenga dominated the lead-up to the first presidential debate, Paul Ryan’s bicep is making a strong play for most important meaningless story heading into the second debate. Time Magazine published year-old photos of the GOP vice presidential candidate wearing a crew neck t-shirt and pumping iron. He’s known as a devotee of the high octance p90x and once worked as a personal trainer, but these photos are the most recent of Ryan without sleeves. See more images from Time.

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Get to Know the Candidates
3:00 p.m. ET
veep debate infographic 640x360 wblog Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact Check


Click on our infographic to meet Paul Ryan and Joe Biden, side by side. They have some similarities, despite what you might think. Biden and Ryan, for instance, were both to office on Capitol Hill at the age of 28.  Biden went from being a county commissioner to being a senator in 1973. Ryan went from working for his family’s business to the U.S. Congress in 1999.

Here are some more photos from the start of debate day.

Paul Ryan spent some time with his son… and tweeted about it:

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Joe Biden did a walk-thru at the Centre College debate site… and tweeted about it.

ht joe biden jp 121011 wblog Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact Check

Twitter / @VP

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Meet Martha Raddatz
2:00 p.m. ET

abc raddatz tk 121010 wn Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact CheckABC’s Martha Raddatz is moderating the vice presidential debate. It will be Martha’s first nationally televised debate. She is more used to covering war zones and foreign affairs.
Read more about Martha Raddatz
. And watch the bio video below.

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