Vice Presidential Debate Live Blog and Fact Check
Tune in to ABCNews.com 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.
Skip To… Get To Know the Candidates 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
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: Not Quite Factual.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back to top… '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.
Back to top… A Prayer for Romney 5:40 p.m.
Evangelist 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
Back to top… 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
Back to top… 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
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.
ABC'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 .
ABC'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 .
ABC'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 .
ABC'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.
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 .
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."
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)
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.
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:
Joe Biden did a walk-thru at the Centre College debate site… and tweeted about it.
ABC'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.