Paul Ryan

Voters got their first and only chance to see the two vice presidential candidates go head to head during Thursday night’s debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Rep. Paul Ryan.

The two candidates sought to shed light on the differences between the two presidential tickets during the 90-minute vice presidential debate that focused on both domestic and foreign policy.

With the exception of a brief comment by Biden on the tuition tax credit, higher education was not discussed during the debate.

The two candidates answered questions on topics ranging from the economy and women’s health to Iraq and Afghanistan from ABC News Correspondent Martha Raddatz. On the economy, Biden criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recently disclosed comment, in which he described 47 percent of Americans as “dependent upon government.”

“These people are my mom and dad, the people I grew up with, my neighbors,” Biden said. “They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax. They are elderly people who, in fact, are living off of Social Security. They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan right now who are, quote, ‘not paying any tax.’”

Ryan responded with his own policy plans.

“We want everybody to succeed,” Ryan said. “We want to get people out of poverty, in the middle class, onto a life of self-sufficiency. We believe in opportunity and upward mobility. That’s what we’re going to push for in a Romney administration.”

The debate took a more aggressive tone than the first presidential debate. At one point, Biden called a statement Ryan made “a bunch of malarkey.”

On the topic of foreign policy, Ryan criticized Obama’s response to the recent attack on the American embassy in Libya.

“This Benghazi issue would be a tragedy in and of itself, but unfortunately it’s indicative of a broader problem,” Ryan said. “And that is what we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.”

In turn, Biden offered his own criticism of Romney’s response.

“You know, usually when there’s a crisis, we pull together,” Biden said. “We pull together as a nation. But as I said, even before we knew what happened to the ambassador, the governor was holding a press conference. That’s not presidential leadership.”

The University Democrats hosted a debate watch party at Player’s while members of the College Republicans attended a watch party at Third Base Sports Bar hosted by Austin Young Republicans.

Speaking from the watch party, Jordan Nichols, executive vice president of College Republicans, said Paul Ryan won the debate in measuring on issues and policy stances.

“As far as substance, Vice President Biden offered pretty much the same thing we’ve heard for the last four years, and it’s pretty obvious where that’s gotten us,” Nichols said.

Sandra Ogenche, vice president of University Democrats, said the debate will serve to remind voters of why supporting the Obama-Biden ticket is so crucial.

“I think Joe Biden did a really good job of getting back to the reason for our support of the ticket,” Ogenche said. “He talked about issues that affect the middle class, that affect our veterans, that affect students, and I think that resonated with a lot of people.”

With early voting already underway in several states, the most recent national polls show a neck and neck race.The second presidential debate will be held Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. at Hofstra University.

Printed on Friday, October 12, 2012 as: VP candidates get aggressive

Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican vice presidential candidate, will square off in the first and only vice presidential debate of the 2012 election season Thursday night.

The 90-minute debate, moderated by ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz, will cover both foreign and domestic topics. This debate comes a week after the first presidential debate in which Romney and Obama sparred on domestic policy. According to a CNN/ORC International survey, 67 percent of people who watched the debate said Romney won compared to the 25 percent that said Obama won.

In terms of election implications, UT government professor David Prindle said that in his opinion, the vice presidential debate will likely have no effect on the outcome of the election.

“Barring some unforeseen mega-gaffe, it’s just entertainment and won’t change a single vote,” Prindle said. “I can imagine a situation where somebody’s vote might be changed if Paul Ryan says, ‘I only agreed to be Mitt Romney’s running mate so I could sleep with his wife.’ That might bring in a few votes from the Kardashians.”

Following the first debate, Romney saw a positive bump in both national and battleground polls. In Gallup’s daily tracking poll three days before the first debate, Obama maintained a five-point lead over Romney. After the debate the two candidates were tied.

The vice presidential debate will begin at 8 p.m. at Centre College in Danville, Ky. The second presidential debate will be held Oct. 16.