May 22, 2013
Fiery Biden sets stage for Obama recovery attempt
Joe Biden's spirited performance in the vice presidential debate had Republicans criticizing him for snide grins and a comment on Libya, but it set the stage for President Barack Obama to try to regain his footing during a rematch with challenger Mitt Romney next Tuesday.
After Obama was seen as largely passive against resurgent Republican Romney last week in their first debate before the Nov. 6 election, Biden fired up Democrats in Thursday's vice presidential debate by aggressively challenging Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, on taxes, healthcare and foreign policy.
Polls showed voters saw the debate largely as a draw.
In a sign the race is tightening again, Romney led Obama by 1 percentage point, 46 to 45 percent, among likely voters in the Reuters/Ipsos daily online tracking poll released on Friday. Romney led by 3 percentage points in Thursday's poll. Most poll respondents were questioned before the vice presidential debate.
Republicans tried to prevent Biden's performance from providing momentum for the Democratic ticket by criticizing the vice president's demeanor during the debate. They said Biden grinned too much and was rude to Ryan during their animated encounter.
And they made Biden's comments about security at the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 their theme of the day, hoping to puncture Obama's credibility on foreign policy.
When asked during the debate about whether the mission had requested more security in the months leading up to the attack, Biden said, "Well, we weren't told they wanted more security again. We did not know they wanted more security again."
At a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, Romney accused Biden of contradicting testimony by US State Department officials who said this week that the consulate had raised fears about security before the attack, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
"He's doubling down on denial," the former Massachusetts governor told the a cheering crowd.
Democrats dismissed the Republicans' stance as a bid to politicize a tragedy.
Biden's strong performance gave Obama a chance to stabilize his campaign after a bad week and deliver his own vigorous argument for why he deserves a second term in the White House.