WASHINGTON -- In their first and only debate, Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan verbally wrestled over Medicare, Social Security and abortion. But sometimes it was the truth that got tackled.
Like President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did in their first debate, Biden and Ryan made statements or observations that weren’t entirely factual. Here’s a look at some of what was said:
Biden repeated a line oft-used by Obama and Democratic surrogates that Romney said let Detroit’s automobile industry should go bankrupt. The vice president is only half-right. Romney, whose father George was an auto company executive and governor of Michigan, said he’d preferred to let the auto industry go through bankruptcy reorganization on its own, rather than with taxpayer help and government direction. Whether it was by former President George W. Bush or Obama, it was the wrong way to go,” he said.
He wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in 2008, headlined, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” He said if the auto companies get a bailout, "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”
Ryan criticized the Obama administration for apologizing the night that four Americans were killed in Libya. The U.S. embassy in Cairo released a statement on Sept. 11 condemning a video that negatively portrayal the Prophet Muhammad. Hours later, after protesters stormed the embassy, staff tweeted it stood by its statement, though it was later deleted from its account. That night in Benghazi, Libya, four American diplomats were killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, but news of the deaths was not announced until the next morning. The statement was not an "apology’’ and it came before the deaths in Libya so it was not in response to the unrest in Cairo or Benghazi. But the White House immediately distanced itself from the embassy statement, saying Washington did not approve of the statement and it did not reflect the views of the U.S. government.
Asked whether the United States should have apologized for U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban corpses, Ryan responded “Oh gosh, yes” and added that “what we should not be apologizing for are standing up for our values.” Ryan was referring to an regularly repeated line by the Romney campaign that Obama traveled overseas shortly after becoming president and apologized for American behavior. Obama made several overseas speeches early in his presidency, but he never issued a formal apology in any of those speeches.
Biden’s insistence that the Obama administration was never told that diplomats wanted more security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi contradicts testimony in this week’s congressional hearing on the issue that focused on apparent denials of requests for expanded security from diplomatic personnel. Still, a diplomatic security chief testified, the attack was so severe that even extra security probably couldn’t have repelled it.
Ryan incorrectly stated that if defense cuts mandated by as part of a bipartisan deal go through the U.S. Navy will be at its smallest since World War I. The actual low, according to a U.S. Navy website, came in 2007, when the Navy ship total fell to 278. Several times in the past decade, the Navy has had fewer than the current 285 ships. Ryan may have been referring to a trend that began in 1989 that has seen the number of Navy ships steadily drop from 592. The Navy’s plan for ship building over the next 30 years is based on building towards a size of about 300 ships.