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Running mates spin Tuesday's presidential debate

October 17, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli

WASHINGTON – Picking up where their running mates left off in Tuesday’s presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden joined President Obama's attack on the "sketchy" Republican budget plans while Rep. Paul D. Ryan defended Mitt Romney's answers on Libya and equal pay on the network morning shows Wednesday.

Biden said Obama was "on top of his game" Tuesday after an admittedly weak performance in the first debate earlier this month. On NBC's "Today," Biden said he was "amazed" that Romney again failed to offer specifics on how he'd pay for what Democrats describe as a $5-trillion tax plan.

"Everything is sketchy," he said. "And I think it's becoming clearer and clearer to the American people that there's a fair amount of rhetoric but not much substance. And I suspect … that's because the president was right. They really do mirror the policies of George Bush on the economy and they don't want to talk about it."

DEBATE QUIZ: Who said it?

NBC's Matt Lauer pressed Ryan on that issue, to which the Wisconsin Republican countered that the ticket has offered a framework with which to begin negotiations with Congress.

"What I've learned in getting bipartisan legislation moving is that you don't go to Congress and say here's all of our details, take it or leave it. You say this is my framework. Let's lower tax rates 20% across the board, close loopholes for high-income people, make sure middle-income taxpayers are protected."

Ryan, speaking on CBS, also sought to put the GOP ticket back on offense on the issue of Libya. Tuesday night, Romney pressed the president on whether he had truly described the attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi as an "act of terror" in remarks immediately after. Obama had in fact done so, but Ryan charged that it was only "a passing reference to acts of terror in general."

"If this was what you're suggesting, that he said this was the result of a terror attack, then why five days after the attack, four days later, send the U.N. ambassador out to the Sunday talk shows to suggest that it was not that, that it was the result of a spontaneous mob reacting to a YouTube video? Why take two weeks later to suggest that it was a terrorist attack? Why go on Univision and "The View" and not claim that it was a terrorist attack?" he asked.

Biden defended his own comment in last week's vice presidential debate that neither he nor the president was aware of requests for heightened security before a rebel attack that resulted in the death of four Americans.

PHOTOS: Memorable presidential debate moments

"What I said was absolutely accurate. Nether the president nor I was told of the additional security requests, as Hillary has pointed out straightforwardly," he said on CBS, referring to comments a day earlier by the secretary of State. Asked if he or Obama should have seen the requests, Biden said he was "not going to speculate on that."

Biden also insisted the Democratic ticket was running strong among women, and pointed to a moment when he said Romney "just obfuscated" in response to a question about the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay law.

Ryan countered that the Ledbetter act was not an "equal-pay" law. "It was about limiting opening up the lawsuits and the statute of limitations. … Of course we support equal pay," he said.

Both men were asked about their own meeting last week, with Biden in particular asked about his demeanor, laughing repeatedly at his Republican counterpart.

"I wasn't laughing at Paul Ryan. I was laughing at the assertions being made by Paul Ryan," he said on CBS.

And on ABC's "Good Morning America," he suggested that "everybody go back and find that 'Saturday Night Live' deal."

"I laughed my head off watching the guy playing me. He is so good, it scares me," he said.

INTERACTIVE: Battleground states map

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michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli

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