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Special> 2012 United States Presidential Election > Features
UPDATED: October 16, 2012 Web Exclusive
Who Won the Vice Presidential Debate?
By Huang Wei

OCTOBER 11: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (left) and Republican vice presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (right) participate in the vice presidential debate at Centre College October 11, 2012 in Danville, Kentucky. This is the second of four debates during the presidential election season and the only debate between the vice presidential candidates before the closely contested election November 6 (AFP)

Both the Republican and Democratic campaigns declared victory in the October 11 debate between Vice President Joe Biden and GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

The first and only Vice Presidential debate for the 2012 presidential election was held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and watched by at least 28.4 million viewers on the four major U.S. television networks.

The 90-minute debate was divided into nine segments of approximately 10 minutes each and bounced between topics related to foreign affairs and domestic issues.

The debate gave the Democratic and Republican running mates a chance to boost the campaigns of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts's governor Mitt Romney. The two exchanged their views on faith, family and the role of government in American life and foreign policy.

Biden was aggressive, hoping to make up for President Obama's lackluster performance in the first Presidential debate on October 3. Picking up the Romney campaign's usual tone, Ryan slammed the weakness of the Obama administration on foreign policy and domestic issues such as unemployment, health care and abortion.

Two immediate polls conducted after the debate one by CBS, the other by CNN showed mixed results.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, 44 percent of the 381 voters who watched the debate live said Biden was victorious, while 48 percent thought Ryan came out on top. However, the audience overall was more likely to vote Republican, and the four-point difference is within the survey's sampling error.

A CBS News survey, however, found 50 percent of the 431 debate watchers believed Biden won, while 31 percent sided with Ryan. Another 19 percent said they felt it was a tie.

"Joe Biden was very clear in the debate," Xavier Becerra, a California Democratic Congressman, told Beijing Review after the debate, adding that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan needed to give the American people the facts.

New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte made a statement after the debate, remarking that Paul Ryan offered solutions while Vice President Biden tried to duck blame. "Ryan had a very strong debate performance tonight," she told Beijing Review in the spin room.

Historically, most U.S. vice presidential debates have not commanded much interest from the American public. After Obama's tepid performance in the first presidential debate, Biden was under pressure to perform. Polls showed Romney has obliterated Obama's lead nationally with his strong performance.

For the Romney side, another win could help the Romney-Ryan ticket carry the momentum forward heading into the November 6 showdown.

The second and third Presidential Debates will be held on October 16 and 22, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York and Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

Bob Schieffer, moderator for the third round in Florida, announced six topics for debate on the website of the Commission on Presidential Debates on October 12. All the topics are on foreign policy. The last one on the list: "The Rise of China and Tomorrow's World."

(Reporting from Danville, Kentucky)

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