US running mates clash in debate

Key points

  • Vice-presidential candidates Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan met in their only debate of the election campaign
  • During the 90-minute encounter, the rivals faced questions on a host of topics including both foreign and domestic policy
  • The debate in Danville, Kentucky, took place as polls show a tighter race, less than a month from election day. All times ET (GMT-4)

Live text


  • Pia Gadkari 
  • Tom Geoghegan 
  • Jude Sheerin 

Last updated 12 October 2012


Hello and welcome to BBC's live coverage of the one and only vice-presidential debate between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan. We'll bring you all the action from the podium in Danville, Kentucky, insights from our correspondents, and some of your e-mails and tweets. The consensus is that Biden will come out swinging, but then again, the consensus last week was that Obama would probably smoke Romney. How wrong that was!


Never knowingly under-hyped, tonight's debate is being widely billed as "high stakes". The 90-minute encounter begins in just under an hour and will be divided into nine 10-minute segments, each addressing a different policy issue. Biden and Ryan will be seated next to each other at the same table as the moderator, ABC News' Martha Raddatz. Cosy!


Biden is expected to be in full attack-dog mode as he tries to make up for Obama's lacklustre performance in last Wednesday's debate against an assertive and limber Romney. House budget chairman Ryan has reportedly been practising crisp, brief answers to avoid getting lost in the wonky weeds of the spending-plan baselines that so thrill him.


Biden's motorcade is now en route to the debate venue, after the vice-president scoffed a hearty plate of spaghetti with his wife, Jill.



tweets: The "Welcome to #Kentucky" gift bag given to the media here at the #VPDebate contained a surprising gift @BBCNewsUS

A minature bottle of Jim Beam on a desk


If political wisdom is true, vice-presidential picks don't win the White House, so tonight's debate probably won't shake up the race. Having said that, a strong showing by Biden could halt Romney's momentum. Plus, there's always the chance of an utterly titanic gaffe that could change the game.


So, let's meet the running mates. In the blue corner, is Joe Biden. A political heavyweight, the 69-year-old has spent 36 years in the Senate, has oodles of foreign policy experience and also that elusive electoral elixir known as blue-collar voter appeal.

Vice-President Joe Biden


Biden also has a reputation for running off with the mouth. In the current election cycle alone, he told an African-American audience that Republicans would put them "back in chains"; his remark that the US middle class had been "buried" for the past four years was catnip to conservatives; Biden also said earlier this year he supported same-sex marriage, effectively forcing Obama to hurriedly say that he did, too.


Over in the red corner, 42-year-old Paul Ryan is a self-styled deficit hawk. He is that rare hybrid, a policy wonk who has an easy manner with voters. Ryan's spent 14 years in Congress, representing the state of Wisconsin. This handy BBC profile has more info on both candidates.

Paul Ryan