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Who Won the Debate?; Reality Check on Debate Facts

Aired October 11, 2012 - 22:30   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. They're joined by their families on the stage right now, the vice president of the United States and the Republican vice-presidential nominee.

A strong debate with clear differences on some of the most critical issues facing the American voter today, issues involving taxes, Medicare, abortion rights for women. The vice president came out swinging today. Unlike President Obama, he immediately raised the issue of Romney's controversial 47 percent comment. He also spoke aggressively about the president saving the American auto industry, GM and Chrysler in particular.

But there was a testy exchanges on Medicare and so many other issues. It looks like -- it looks like at least to me, pretty much of a draw as far as this debate is concerned. We're going to have full reality checks from our John Berman, Tom Foreman, going through the facts that were described today. Who was telling more of the truth. Who was fibbing a little bit. We're going through all of that tonight.

You also saw those focus group results at the bottom of the screen. Who liked what they saw. These were independent voters in Virginia. We're certainly going to hear from them. Erin Burnett is standing by for them. We're going to hear if any of them changed their minds as a result of what we heard.

We also will be getting an instant poll, a scientific poll of people who actually watched this debate, and they will give us their opinion who won, who came out stronger. Would it be the vice president? Would it be the congressman from Wisconsin. They're still up on the stage. I'm sure they're both pretty happy right now with their respective performances.

And based on everything I saw there tonight, it looked like their respective supporters were pleased, unlike the first presidential debate when so many Democrats, supporters of President Obama, were deeply disappointed. It looks to me like the supporters will be there for both sides.

Look, they're actually spending some quality time together, the Bidens and the Ryans, the families together, unlike in that first presidential debate.

Soledad, you're there, obviously, and watching what's going on. A little friendly after-math. We didn't necessarily see that before. We see some of the kids there up on the stage. Sitting in that chair, looks like Paul Ryan's son, looking happy. That little boy obviously very proud of his dad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sitting in the debate chair, you're absolutely right. And the audience applauding as the family members spending a few moments on the stage.

Audience, of course, not allowed to applaud, didn't make noise when the debate was going on, and I have to say, that was because of the absolute masterful moderating by Martha Raddatz. You could just feel the respect by the audience. She was 100 percent in control.

Lots of substance in the debate. Two paths very clearly laid out. A couple of moments I would say that people responded to. One was when Joe Biden said "malarkey." You could tell that the audience, while they weren't allowed to sort of make loud noises, there said there was sort of a ripple that went through. Obviously, Google now saying one of the most searched things.

But clearly, there was a sense even though there was some over- talking, it felt like a debate that had heavy substance, lots of detail and Martha Raddatz leading it every step of the way. People clearing out now that this debate was over -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Soledad, thank you very, very much.

Obviously, an important debate, I think the Democrats will be very pleased with what they heard from Joe Biden. And the Republicans are going to be very pleased with what they heard from Congressman Paul Ryan. This is one of those debates that will go down, Anderson Cooper, in history, because it was very, very substantive. And one thing I did notice on national security, the foreign policy issues. Congressman Ryan held his own with Vice President Biden, who is so much more experienced in these areas than the much younger congressman.

COOPER: It was a riveting 90-plus minutes, there's no doubt about it. Both men really going toe to toe, face to face, and neither man blinking, neither side blinking, I think as you said. Both sides, Democrats and Republicans, there's a lot there that they both will probably be happy about.

Let's quickly go with our panelists, our reporters, our contributors -- John king.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After the debate, America needs more of that. These are both happy warriors who love what they do. Mrs. Ryan went over and talked to the vice president. Mrs. Biden went over and talked to Congressman Ryan. We need more of that in Washington and across America. People who can have a spirited debate, disagree on just about everything, and then shake hands and say, "Hey, how are you doing?" The process would really be helped if we had more of that in the country.

COOPER: I got the sense that Joe Biden enjoyed the debate. I mean, he enjoyed the process. KING: We talked about this at the beginning. You had a leading conservative, passionate voice and a leading liberal passionate voice, who believe what they believe, who respect the other side. They don't demonize the other side. And so they had a good debate. They disagreed on just about everything: Afghanistan, Medicare, taxes, health care, abortion. They went through it. And they both did what they wanted to do.

The Democrats are happy. If you look at the Twitterverse, if you read your e-mail, Democrats were despondent, dispirited. They thought the president checked out in the first debate. They're happy tonight. The vice president came, he showed fire. He showed his boss what it is to engage, and engage, and engage, and attack, and attack, and attack.

And Paul Ryan came in tonight and had to defend Mitt Romney, had to prove he was a president if, God forbid, something happened, if they won the election. They leave just as happy. There was not a wipeout in this debate. Both sides came in and I think will leave thinking, "We did what we came to do."

COOPER: Let's take a look quickly at one of the initial exchanges and then go to our panelists. It's from Joe Biden.


BIDEN: Show me a policy where you take responsibility. And by the way, they talk about this great recession as if it fell out of the sky, like, "Oh, my goodness! Where did it come from?" It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy.


COOPER: Let's try to get just a quick takeaway from everybody -- David Gergen.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Joe Biden did do his boss a lot of help tonight. Overall, on substance, I think it was a draw. I think each side will draw a lot of encouragement from it.

But I think on style, I think that Paul Ryan won the debate. And that is, the -- Biden's dismissive laughs, the interruptions, the shouting, I think that Ryan was calmer and, frankly, more presidential. And on style, not substance, I think it was a Ryan victory. On substance, I thought it was a draw.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It was condescending at times to Paul Ryan, and I think I could have done with a lot less eye rolling and chuckling on the part of Joe Biden.

However, I thought it was a great debate. I think it was one of the most substantive debates or engagements we've seen throughout this campaign. I think if people are undecided, they would decide. COOPER: You could not take your eyes off it. I mean, you could not turn away for a second.

BORGER: But two different world views.


BORGER: Two different views about the economy. I don't know why there are any undecided people left after this debate, because...

COOPER: We're looking at some of the reaction shots of Vice President Biden -- Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Biden had a mission. He had to buy his boss a week until the next debate, and he did that tonight. You know? He fired up the Obama base, he gave it some energy. Fighting Joe Biden, that was great.

They could have taken away his laughing gas a little earlier. He wasn't charming Joe Biden tonight. That wasn't his mission.

I thought Ryan proved himself unexpectedly confident on foreign policy, reasonable Republican. He wasn't one of those scary Republicans that Obama has been warning everybody about. So I think Ryan met his test tonight, as well.

Overall, I have to agree with David: kind of a draw tonight, but Ryan looked very reasonable. Onto the next one.

COOPER: It was interesting, Paul, to see Vice President Biden continually inject himself, even when Paul Ryan was talking. Now, some people will say it was rude and annoying. Others will say he was trying to contradict point by point.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right. And he's not on the top of the ticket. We talked about this before the debate. His mission was to put Romney on trial and to reenergize the Democrats. The change in the race, John King points out before the debate, has been that Romney has moved up, not that Obama has moved down after the debate. It's that people thought better of Romney, and he began to move up.

So Biden put Romney on trial. This I can tell you, the Democrats -- my Twitter, my e-mail has been on fire. This is exactly the debate performance Democrats needed. Biden showed fire. The one really condescending moment was when Paul Ryan looked at him and said -- at Joe Biden and said, "I know you're under a lot of duress." I'm like, whoa, sunny boy! That's way across the line.

COOPER: One more exchange before we get to Mary Matalin and Van Jones, between the two.


RYAN: Romney is a good man. He cares about 100 percent of Americans in this country. And with respect to that quote, I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way.

BIDEN: But I always say what I mean, and so does Romney.

RYAN: We want everybody to succeed. 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.

RADDATZ: Vice President, I have a feeling you have a few things to say.

BIDEN: The idea, if you heard that little soliloquy on 47 percent, you'd think he just made a mistake, and I think you're -- I've got a bridge to sell you.


COOPER: Republican strategist Mary Matalin, what do you think?

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: They all -- whatever everybody says is right. Republicans loved it. Democrats loved it. I'm curious to see what independents, or not just independents, undecideds thought, because style matters. They get it's two different views, but that style matters. That condescending, smirking, laughing. It was akin to Gore sighing. You would be -- you would be surprised how much tone when there's such a clear division.

COOPER: By the way, Paul Begala's reaction to that is to smirk.

BEGALA: That's nonsense.


CASTELLANOS: Well, I guess that settles that. We can all go home now.

COOPER: Van Jones, former advisor to the White House?

VAN JONES, FORMER ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: A couple of things. I, first of all, thought that Ryan acquitted himself very well. I think he was sometimes a little bit robotic. He did come across smarmy sometimes, sometimes over-prepared. But he was sitting there, and he was holding his own, and I think you could see him as president.

I think he may have opened up some doors, though. You've got to look at that. He seems like he's willing to put Americans in harm's way in Afghanistan, in Syria, and possibly in Iran. I don't think that had been on the table as much before. It may become an issue going forward.

The other thing is he did not say that abortion would not become illegal under this new administration. So I think -- if they win. So I think that may be a problem for him.

On the other hand, for me, for Biden, Biden put a lot of fact checkers out of work. He was fact checking right there in real time. I thought that was awesome. I was proud to be a Democrat, and I thought the debate overall was American politics at its best.

COOPER: That was what you wanted to see Vice President Biden do.

JONES: I wanted to see the fact checking. Why have 1,000 people tomorrow talking about it? He was fact checking on the spot; I think that's what Democrats needed.

I think Democrats really needed this performance. It was not for the independents. This was for the faithful to get back in this fight. I think he did that tonight.

COOPER: So to energize his base.

JONES: Energize the base.

CASTELLANOS: One thing that I was disappointed on, though, was that the moderator, Martha Raddatz, talked about the economy a lot. But it was Afghanistan's; it wasn't ours.

COOPER: You felt too much on foreign policy?

CASTELLANOS: What do Americans care about? We've got a country we fear is going over the precipice economically. And we ended up with a very interesting and informative and productive debate but mostly about foreign policy.

COOPER: Were you surprised by the amount of foreign policy?

KING: Yes.


KING: It's Martha's wheelhouse, No. 1.

And No. 2, I think the vice president probably came in thinking the more of this the merrier, although the Democrats wanted to score more points, talking about the Ryan budget and taxes and the 47 percent.

I did think it was actually overwhelmingly about the economy, which was a bit surprising so much time was spent on foreign policy.

But again, I think election's about choices. And Americans pick presidents, not vice presidents, so this is not going to move. That's no disrespect to the vice-presidential candidates. Americans pick a president.

Again, I'll go back to the late '80s, for example. Dan Quayle did not have a good night on this night in 1988, and his boss won 40 states. So don't think they're...

COOPER: But it does set up next week's debate quite well.

KING: It sets up the debate quite well in the sense that Paul Ryan did nothing to undermine the conservative enthusiasm. The polls at this -- you can put all the independent voters, the undecided voters in this room right now. That's how they both campaign. That's an exaggeration. That's how both campaigns feel.

Much like 2004, they view this as spend almost all of your time and all of your energy energizing your people. Because that's where the polls move. When Democratic intensity goes up, Obama goes up; when Republican intensity goes up, Romney goes up. And both sides will be happy that they did their job tonight, to the base tonight.

COOPER: We're going to have more time to talk in detail about this and play you other key moments from this debate. Right now, let's go back to Wolf.

BLITZER: I will say one thing about Martha Raddatz, the moderator: I think she did an excellent, excellent job today keeping both of these candidates in place, asking first-rate questions on domestic and foreign policy issues.

Right now, we're polling people across the country who watched the debate. Will they declare a clear winner? Stand by for the results.

Plus, we're also going to be checking in with our focus group of undecided voters. Did they hear anything that helps them make up their minds? And we'll also take a much closer look at the time each candidate talked and whether it made a difference.

Jessica Yellin is standing by over in the post-debate spin room. She's got a guest with her, as well -- Jessica.


This time there was no delay for Democrats coming into the spin room. They rushed right in with smiles on their face, and I'm here with one of them right now, deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter with the Obama campaign.

This was a much livelier debate than last week, so you must be relieved. The 47 percent and taxes came up, Stephanie. But the vice president seemed very aggressive at times. Were you concerned about he was overcompensating for the president's performance last week?

STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: No, not at all. You know, I think it was a divisive win for the Obama -- Obama-Biden campaign. And I think it showed a couple of things: one, that facts matter. And the vice president made sure that facts were part of this discussion tonight. And he held Paul Ryan accountable for what the vice president called malarkey.

And I think that showed. I think that Paul Ryan had a hard time defending his plans. He was on the defense most of the night.

And in terms of the vice president being aggressive, everybody across this country knows that Joe Biden is an authentic person. He says what he means, and he does what he says. And he spoke with conviction tonight. He cares about what he's saying, and, you know, I think that that showed. I think that came across to the American people.

YELLIN: Now, Congressman Ryan also made the case that this has been a negative campaign, and he got some points in. Are you convinced that there will be a difference showing up at the polls in the coming days?

CUTTER: Well, as you know, there's been very little movement in the polls over the last week, since the last debate.

YELLIN: Well, there's been a slide for you guys.

CUTTER: A slight movement. But this is a very close race. We've always said it was going to be a close rate all the way up until the end.

These debates are important. People are starting to make their decisions. I think what they say tonight is two very, very different visions. You know, the difference between a lifetime of fighting for the middle class versus someone who just learned the words "middle class" over the past four weeks.

YELLIN: And what should we expect from the president the next to you weeks? What will he be doing over the next few days? And will his debate next week be different?

CUTTER: Well, look, that is also a town hall. Different format. He's looking forward to it. He'll come ready to go, fired up. And over the course of the next couple of days, he'll continue getting ready for it.

You know, I think tonight was, as I said, a decisive victory for the Obama-Biden campaign. And the most important thing tonight is it really demonstrated the real difference in the two visions. Building the economy from the middle out, a strong middle class driving this economy, versus an economy built from the top down, their trickle down policies that crashed our economy in the first place.

YELLIN: Thank you, Stephanie Cutter.

Wolf, as you can see, the Democrats here are quite relieved with tonight's performance.

BLITZER: Jessica, could you get Stephanie? Can you get Stephanie Cutter? I want to do a quick follow-up. I know she can't hear me right now, but maybe she can just explain to our viewers. She's getting a lot of criticism from Republicans for some comments she made about Libya earlier in the day, blaming the Romney-Ryan ticket in the fact for this investigation that's going on in Libya right now. I wonder if she wants to explain what she meant. She spoke to CNN earlier in the day.

YELLIN: Wolf is asking if you would like to defend yourself from some of the criticism that's come your way throughout the day.

CUTTER: From the Romney campaign?

YELLIN: There has been criticism during the day because of some comments you made when you said that the Libya -- that Libya's been politicized, the deaths in Libya were politicized by the Romney-Ryan ticket.

CUTTER: No, what I said was that, you know, there is a legitimate investigation going on to get to the bottom of what happened in Libya, to ensure that it never happens again.

And at the same time, the Romney-Ryan campaign, from the get-go, before you know, some of those families were even notified, came out and started politicizing it. They were roundly criticized by many, many news organization. And that's an important piece of this. Even yesterday on the campaign trail, they were politicizing the investigation. And, you know, I think that's irresponsible, and it's reckless.

YELLIN: Are you suggesting that this is only a story because we're in a political campaign.

CUTTER: Absolutely not. You know, the administration wouldn't be coming out and giving the facts and ensuring the American people know what's going on, and making sure Congress knows what's going on, what intelligence was showing. This is an important piece of information. It's an important piece of our history so that we can make sure that it never happens again.

At the same time, we're in the middle of a political campaign, and let's remember that famous secret videotape, the 47 percent videotape, where Mitt Romney said to a private room in front of a bunch of high-end donors, that he was looking for an opportunity like this, something like the hostage situation under Jimmy Carter, to take advantage of. So I think he found the issue that he wanted to take advantage of.

I think that we've got to get to the bottom of what happened in Libya. The administration is doing that responsibly and thoughtfully and not jumping to conclusions, and we've got to continue doing that.

And I think what tonight showed, in the discussion over Libya, that Paul Ryan couldn't really articulate what he would be doing differently than what the administration is already doing.

YELLIN: Thank you, Stephanie.

CUTTER: Thank you.

YELLIN: OK. Wolf, as you can see, they are ready and willing to draw contrast at every opportunity here in the spin room, from Libya to taxes and the 47 percent. But feeling relieved with the vice president's performance tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, they are, indeed. Jessica, thanks very much.

Jim Acosta is also in the spin room with a special guest. Got a little different perspective, I suppose, from your guest, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's right. This was a lively debate. It was sometimes a testy debate. And I'm joined now by the chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus.

And we heard at times the vice president referring to Congressman Ryan as "my friend." Can I call you "my friend"?


ACOSTA: Reince. Let me as, you first, was it a good idea for Congressman Ryan to talk about his tax plans and then drop the reference to (AUDIO GAP). Isn't that a major no-no in these kinds of debates?

PRIEBUS: Maybe in, what, 1988, but I think we're fine now, referring to Lloyd Bentsen. I mean, I thought it was a great night for us. I was excited for Paul. He was solid. He had a command of the issues, and quite frankly, I was embarrassed for the vice president. I mean, the laughs. We counted 82 times that Joe Biden interrupted Paul Ryan.

ACOSTA: Paul Ryan was interrupting, too.

PRIEBUS: I don't know who his debate partner was, but you know -- I don't know. Maybe it was Ed Schultz from MSNBC. I'm not sure.

ACOSTA: But let me ask you about that point on taxes, because at one point during the debate, the moderator asked Congressman Ryan to offer specifics, detail: where are these loopholes and deductions going to be cut back in order to pay for the Romney-Ryan tax cut plan? And the congressman did not provide those specifics.

PRIEBUS: But the congressman has provided boatloads of specifics. You can look at tax policies. You can look at the Ryan- Wyden plan. You can look at the five-point plan, the 59-point plan. The fact of the matter is, we've got specifics coming out of our ears, and it's Joe Biden and Barack Obama and the Democrats that haven't passed a budget. I mean, do we have that straight? They haven't passed a budget in over three years.

BLITZER: You think the congressman should have mentioned that?

PRIEBUS: They have no -- he did. They have no ground to stand on in this country in this debate. They have no ground, as president and vice president of the United States of America, to be lecturing anybody about budgeting. They have failed in their duty to this country.

ACOSTA: One of the things that you said before the debate was that Joe Biden has been debating since the 1800s, and so he has boatloads of experience. Do you -- did he win tonight?

PRIEBUS: No, he didn't, but he didn't -- he didn't use the experience that he had to be respectful, and clear, and state your point, wait for your opponent. The fact of the matter is, when it came on substance, he didn't win, and when it came on style, I mean, Joe Biden completely failed.

ACOSTA: Very quickly, do you think the momentum -- momentum of this race changed in any way?

PRIEBUS: The momentum stayed on our side tonight, and that's what we wanted out of tonight. But they also got to see what Joe Biden and Barack Obama are all about. And I don't think people are going to like what -- they didn't like what they saw.

ACOSTA: All right. Chairman, thanks very much.

PRIEBUS: Any time.

ACOSTA: My friend, I appreciate it.

PRIEBUS: My friend, you bet.

ACOSTA: Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: A lot of friends over there. Guys, thanks very, very much.

Our team of producers, researchers and reporters, they've been very, very busy figuring out whether candidates were telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in tonight's debate. John Berman is ready with a reality check on two of the international issues that came up, Iran's quest for nuclear weapons and last month's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Foreign policy was a big issue embassy tonight on embassy security in regards to what happened in Benghazi.

The vice president said the Republican-led House voted to cut embassy security by $300 billion beyond what the Obama we asked for security.

The congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for.


BERMAN: Now what are the facts here? The spending bill proposed by House Republicans, fiscal year 2012, did reduce the amount for embassy security by over $300 million. Our verdict here is true. The House did vote to cut funding for embassy security, as the vice president says.

But the Democratic-led Senate did restore some of this funding, and the final version signed by the president had bipartisan support for some reduction of funds for embassy security.

Now, on the issue of Iran, the candidates argued a lot about Iran today and their nuclear weapons capability, the Iranians. Ryan claims that Iran's ability to make nuclear bombs has quintupled under the Obama administration. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. Now let's take a look at where we've come from. When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material, nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five.


BERMAN: Now, the fact, the Institute for Science and National Security said when Obama took office in 2008, the Iranians had enough uranium to make one weapon. Now they have five. If -- and this is a big if -- if they had the capability to enrich the uranium, and to the best of our knowledge right now, the Iranians do not have the capability to enrich uranium or the technology to build a bomb.

Our verdict here is partly true but misleading. Yes, they have more uranium, but as I said, they do not believe that Iran can make a bomb out of it yet -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Just the first of several reality checks that we're doing in the course of our coverage here.

CNN's Erin Burnett watched the debate together with a focus group of undecided voters in the swing state of Virginia. Let's go to Norfolk right now. Erin is getting some reaction. What is the reaction, Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You know, they were -- it was interesting. I was watching them, and I haven't even had a chance to tell them this. You all really were on the edge of your seats, and people really were -- I mean, you really were. I think it's a fair word to describe this. People were very engaged in what was happening here, Wolf.

And I think one of the takeaway here that's fair to share is that 71 percent of our 31 people here who watched this debate, every single second of it, thought that Joe Biden did better than they thought he would. And about 55 percent of them thought that Paul Ryan did a little bit worse than they thought he would. So that's a key headline to share.

But in terms of some of the -- how they rate these people at the end, in terms of a better vision for the future and better solutions for the future, Paul Ryan wins among our likely voters here who are undecided tonight. Won clearly on that.

But in terms does the candidate better understand me and care more about me? Joe Biden won at the end of this over Paul Ryan among the people here.

So what was the takeaway, all in, in terms of who won? Well, clear winner, unfortunately, Wolf, I've got to tell you this is a dead heat. A third for Joe Biden, a third for Paul Ryan and a third are undecided tonight. So let me talk to a few of them, and let's go to the Joe Biden, those of you that thought Joe Biden did a little bit better. The conversation was very heated, I have to say. So let's start with Claudia. You thought Joe Biden did a little bit better than Paul Ryan. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just seemed to have a better command of the facts and was more prepared with specifics. Where I think that Ryan was more -- again, several people said he avoided giving specific information. But Joe Biden just seemed very well-informed.

BURNETT: All right. Let's pass this back to Arthur. Why do you think Joe Biden did better?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, compared with Obama's performance, I just thought it was -- he just didn't allow the facts to be blown out of proportion without coming back at Paul Ryan to really give the points a factual basis. And I just thought he did a much better job than Obama did on trying to point out the differences and whether they're really true.

BURNETT: So this is -- these are some of the people, Wolf, who thought that Joe Biden did better than expected. As I said, that was a third of the people.

But a third of the people thought that Paul Ryan was a winner of this debate. And you may have noticed on your screen that women tended to rate Paul Ryan more highly here in our focus group than men did. So I want to ask a couple women. So let's start with you. Tell me why you thought, Mary, that Paul Ryan won.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought Paul Ryan had a better command of the tax figures. The explanations that he gave, he seemed to be educating us, trying to teach us until Joe Biden would bumble in and try to distort things by overriding him, talking, being a buffoon in general. And I was very disappointed in the vice president acting that way. As I said before, I think it gives good credence to term limits.

BURNETT: Term limits, which was a conservation that did come up here separately. Jennifer, let's go to you before we're finished. Why did you think Paul Ryan won?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not. I did not believe that Paul Ryan won. I felt that neither of the candidates did well. I felt like I watched 90 minutes of campaign ads.

Vice President Biden interrupting and being disruptive while Mr. Ryan was trying to talk to us was very disruptive to me, but by the same token, I don't feel that Mr. Ryan answered questions.

BURNETT: Thank you very much. And our coverage continues right now.

BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're here in the CNN Election Center for a comprehensive look at how Joe Biden and Paul Ryan did in their debate.

In this hour, we're releasing the results of CNN's poll of debate watchers. Who do they think won tonight? Our "Reality Check" team, headed by John Berman and Tom Foreman -- they continue to pore through the candidates' answers. Also, Erin Burnett standing by with undecided voters in the very important swing state of Virginia. We're going to show you the points during the debate when they gave the candidates the highest and lowest marks.

We expected a lively debate over Medicare, and we certainly got it. Congressman Ryan argued forcefully for changing the program, warning it will bankrupt if changes aren't made and said the president's health care reform plan makes things worse.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Look what "Obama care" does. "Obama care" takes $716 billion from Medicare to spend on "Obama care." Even their own chief actuary of Medicare backs this up. He says you can't spend the same dollar twice. You can't claim that this money goes to Medicare and "Obama care."

And then they put this new "Obama care" board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors. This board, by the way -- it's 15 people. The president's supposed to appoint them next year. And not one of them even has to have with medical training.

They haven't put a credible solution on the table. He'll tell you about vouchers. He'll say all these things to try and scare people. Here's what we're saying. Give younger people, when they become Medicare-eligible, guaranteed coverage options that you can't be denied, including traditional Medicare. Choose your plan and then Medicare subsidizes your premiums, not as much for the wealthy people, more coverage for middle income people. And total out-of-pocket coverage for the poor and the sick (ph).

Choice and competition -- we would rather have 50 million future seniors determine how their Medicare is delivered to them instead of 15 bureaucrats deciding what, if, where, when they get it.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I heard that death panel argument from Sarah Palin. It seems every vice presidential debate, I hear this kind of stuff about panels.

But let's talk about Medicare. What we did is we saved $716 billion and put it back, applied to Medicare. We cut the cost of Medicare. We stopped overpaying insurance companies, when (ph) doctors and hospitals -- the AMA supported what we did. AARP endorsed what we did.

And it extended the life of Medicare to 2024. They want to wipe this all out. It also gave more benefits. Any senior out there, ask yourself, do you have more benefits today? You do. If you're near the donut hole, you have $800 -- $600 more to help your prescription drug costs. You get wellness visits without co-pays. They wipe all of this out, and Medicare goes -- becomes insolvent in 2016, number one.

Number two, guaranteed benefit. It's a voucher. When they first proposed -- when the congressman had his first voucher program, the CBO said it would cost $6,400 a year, Martha, more for every senior 55 and below when they got there.

He knew that, yet he got all the guys in Congress, and women, in the Republican Party to vote for it. Governor Romney, knowing that, said, I would sign it were I there.


BLITZER: So you can see both candidates throwing around a lot of claims about Medicare. Tom Foreman and our "Reality Check" team -- they've been checking facts, Tom. What do are you seeing?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Medicare is a government health program mainly for people over the age of 65. Fifty million Americans count on this program, and it is -- got real questions about its financial future as they moved forward.

Here's the bad news, though. As you heard from both campaigns, each side is saying the other side's future plans are terrible.


RYAN: "Obama care" takes $716 billion from Medicare to spend on "Obama care."

BIDEN: All you seniors out there, have you been denied choices? Have you lost Medicare Advantage?

RYAN: They haven't put a credible solution on the table.

BIDEN: Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare.


FOREMAN: Essentially, what they're saying is, My opponent will destroy Medicare. Can that really be true. Let's look at the facts here and consider what's in front of us.

This is the White House plan and the landscape they're facing right now. Over the next 10 years, the cost of Medicare is going to gradually ramp up until it's about a trillion dollars a year. The White House, as Joe Biden just said, would like to reduce that by about 10 percent, the orange section in here. That's the part they want to get rid of.

Now, their opponents say this part you're getting rid of, that's real care. You're hurting people by taking away their benefits. The White House says, No, it is not. These are reductions in fees, payments that we're making to hospitals and to health care programs. In a word, this is waste. We can get rid of it and we should get rid of it. That is the White House plan. But now let's look at the Republican plan, the Romney-Ryan plan. They have the same -- same landscape to deal with here, the same increase up to $1 trillion, and they also would like to reduce it by about 10 percent. But they want to rely on the private sector, not the government. And to do that, they're going to use vouchers. They don't really like that word, but that's what it is in its essence.

Right now, if you're on Medicare, what happens is the government pays Medicare. Medicare pays the hospital. The hospital takes care of you. Under this plan, the government would pay you and you would either pay Medicare or a private insurance company to take care of you.

They believe this will create competition and that competition will go after that waste and drive costs down. So two very different approaches, Wolf, to the same problem, two very different ways at getting at a very complex problem, and there are critics.

BLITZER: There certainly are, Tom. Each side says the other side's plan has some hidden danger. So what specifically are they talking about?

FOREMAN: What they're talking about -- if you look -- let's bring back in the candidates here. If you look at the White House plan, the fundamental complaint here is that right now, maybe, you are shoving these costs off on the health care providers. But over time, maybe those health care providers will let that trickle down to the Medicare recipients. Or worse, maybe they'll just decide they don't to be in Medicare anymore. They'll pull out of the system, and then where will those people go?

The fundamental criticism of the Republican plan is one we've heard before, too. This is about going to the private sector. Well, the private sector has been involved in health care for a long time and health care costs have gone up anyway.

Still, each side is trying to come up with its own solution to a problem that everyone acknowledges. This notion that either side wants to essentially destroy Medicare -- there's just no evidence for it. This is false, Wolf, and this is essentially a scare tactic, no matter who's saying it.

BLITZER: One more question, Tom. With so many issues out there, why are the campaigns talking about this one so much?

FOREMAN: They're talking about this one so much because if you look at the map, you can see a trend that really matters politically. All over this country, as the Baby Boomers have grown older, they have increased their voting strength all over the country.

Everywhere you see the darker states, that's where the percentage is higher. Look, battleground Florida down here, 17 percent of the population is now over the age of 65. Seniors are reliable voters. They're engaged voters. And they're really engaged on this issue of Medicare. Whoever wins, the Medicare debate will probably win a lot of senior votes in the process -- Wolf. BLITZER: I think you're right, Tom. Thanks very much. Let's check in with Anderson Cooper. He's got our panel of analysts and commentators taking a much closer look at what we have seen tonight -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC360": That's right. We certainly have been. What else terms of tonight, I mean, really stood out to you (INAUDIBLE)

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: (INAUDIBLE) discipline, actually. Biden's not famous for his discipline. He interrupted a lot and rolled his eyes. But you know what he did? He accomplished his strategic task.

Four years ago, he had a very different task debating Sarah Palin. She was new and exciting and controversial, and he needed to not roil the waters. He need to not be rude. He needed to not be condescending or interrupting or too aggressive. He did that perfectly four years ago.

Totally different Joe Biden tonight. It's a totally different race and a totally different mission.

COOPER: Do you think he was aware of the smiles, the laughs, the -- the...

BEGALA: No. I think he's a very authentic guy. I mean, it's interesting. His only job in life has been as a politician, but he's the least phony politician. His heart's on his sleeve. So you know, maybe he'll watch the tape, he'll like it or he won't. But that's -- I think that was very authentic.


MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Not being phony doesn't make you attractive. He is authentically, as the woman said to Erin Burnett, a buffoon. He was a buffoon.

I'm going to say again of those three people that Erin talked to, the people who liked him said because he did better than Obama and he did better than what they expected he would do because he was a gaffe- inator.

The woman that I just (INAUDIBLE) said he was a buffoon and Ryan was earnest and informative. The woman that didn't like either of them -- and I'm focusing on women for a reason -- said they're all politicians, and they didn't -- she didn't like any of it.

So yes, he did what he did to pump up his base, but when you're trying to pump up your base at three weeks out, that's illustrative of an ongoing problem with this -- with Obama's campaign. Ryan already -- Romney and Ryan already have their base done (ph). And Romney -- what Ryan's performance did was validate Romney's decision-making process by picking somebody who was clearly a reformer. And he also passed the threshold test, that he looked like he could be a serious, solid guy in the White House. COOPER: Van?

VAN JONES, AUTHOR, "REBUILD THE DREAM," CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I see it somewhat differently, and I'm kind of watching the social media. The counterpoint -- I do think that Biden got too hot at different times. I think that made some people uncomfortable.

But that said, what I'm seeing is people feeling like Ryan was coming across as robotic. Whenever you would see Biden turn to the camera, it felt like he was really coming from his heart. Maybe he was too hot, but he was really there. He was talking -- when Ryan would turn to the camera, it seemed very rehearsed, very canned, almost robotic. And for some people, that was a turn-off.

And so I think it's going to -- but here's what I think is interesting. Everybody seems to be saying, even with our folks, This guy understand me, about Biden. He understands me. And I think that that -- even if he got a little bit hot, he didn't lose those likability points. I think that's important.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I have something important to say, but I'm sorry. I can't. I'm being interrupted by Joe Biden.


CASTELLANOS: No, I think Biden accomplished a lot of what he wanted to accomplish tonight. But at the end, these elections a re about the future. A presidential ticket -- their job is to lead the country and take us to a better place, especially a country that's in as tough a shape as it is now.

Who talked about that tonight? The only guy on that stage who really talked about the future was Paul Ryan. And I think we saw that -- Erin was putting on the numbers of who -- a better vision of the future. It was Paul Ryan. His closing statement will play after this debate. That was a vision -- We can do better than we're doing now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But what Joe Biden's job was tonight, and he did it and he did it well, was he had to right the ship because the ship was going somewhere else, and they -- and so the eye-rolling and all the rest, I'm sure you'll be raising money for your PAC tomorrow.


BORGER: But it will...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean optometrists or something, I don't know.

BORGER: That it will -- that it will appeal to the base. But the thing that I will say about Paul Ryan is not only did he pass the threshold, but he exhibited a fluency in foreign policy that I actually was -- sort of said, Oh, OK. He really either studied, knows his stuff or he spent all those years in Congress and actually learned something about foreign policy.

JONES: Didn't it seem overstudied, though, almost like he was, like -- had his index cards? I don't know -- you didn't feel that way?

BORGER: I think they both overstudied, if you want to know the truth. And this debate so full of facts and figures and numbers, it was coming out of your ears, right?

CASTELLANOS: That is one criticism that I might have...

MATALIN: That's good.

BORGER: No, that is good that they both studied.

CASTELLANOS: ... of Paul Ryan, I would have wanted more pictures and less math.

COOPER: We are awaiting the results, we should point out, of our poll of tonight's debate watchers. Who did they think won? There's a big response on Twitter. We'll find out who our debate watchers thought won. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We now have the results of our CNN ORC poll of registered voters who actually watched tonight's debate. And look at this, 48 percent believe that Paul Ryan was the winner, 44 percent believe Joe Biden was the winner. Sampling error, plus or minus 5 points. Clearly a tie, a draw, basically between both of these candidates, given the sampling error -- Anderson.

COOPER: Which basically reflects what a lot of you have been saying all evening -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It reflects the divide in the electorate. If you ask people right now in national polls, Romney-Ryan, Obama-Biden, guess what? You get a tie. Either Romney's up a point or two or Obama's up a point or two. So what you have right there is a polarized America.

I think, passing judgment, how they're going to vote. So it doesn't look like they changed a lot of minds. And I think, again, you hear this from Van, you hear it from Paul, you see it in your e- mails and if you look at the Twitterverse, Democrats have energy. There's passion. There's excitement. There's a lot of (INAUDIBLE) among Democrats.

We had none of that after the Romney-Obama debate. We had silence. And then you had worry. So I think Joe Biden has to be happy about that. Paul Ryan has to be happy that he proved himself to be a potential president tonight.

But the one point that is interesting going forward -- the other thing Democrats are trying to do is to make him scary. They want to turn him into the bogeyman. The Ryan budget would just decimate the social safety net, not just Medicare but Pell grants and everything else. And they haven't been able to do that.

In his convention speech and in the debate tonight, he's a likable guy. If you know him, he's a likable guy. You might disagree with him on policy, as I think Mrs. Biden and the vice president proved this tonight. They disagree with him, but he's a likable guy. And he believes -- they don't think he's in politics for some nefarious reason, they just disagree with him.

And that part I think helps Governor Romney. Look, this is -- this one has a short shelf life. The two presidential candidates will be back in the arena on Tuesday night. And so that this was essentially a draw tonight. Both sides can come away happy that they did what they wanted to do. I think the shelf life's pretty quick.

COOPER: Does Joe Biden suddenly become Barack Obama's debate partner and...


GERGEN: (INAUDIBLE) that's exactly right. Just -- it's interesting, reading the social media, because (INAUDIBLE) partisans on each side are so convinced that their guy won. And they really think you're a jackass if you don't believe (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: You know, this was no draw. This -- my guy won. And it's interesting how it came out that way.

I do think that Joe Biden did something that Barack Obama desperately needed, and that was to inject energy and life back into his campaign. I think that was an enormous lift for him.

But I have a hard time remembering -- maybe some of you can correct me -- I can't remember when a challenger to a sitting vice president came out with a draw. You know, so if you look at it from Ryan's point of view, he also did pretty darn well and helped his side keep their -- their sense of confidence about...


COOPER: ... people four years ago who -- I mean, the expectations were so low for Sarah Palin that people said...


GERGEN: ... was a clear winner (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: And when it was over, it was a clear winner in the polls. There are some polls that go a little bit the other way...


BORGER: She won by not losing, to a certain degree, because expectations were so low.

GERGEN: Well, she was still standing when it was over, yes.

BORGER: She was still standing. I mean, expectations were higher for Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan's been around for quite some time in Washington. He's young, but he's experienced. And so I don't think there were those low expectations for him. But I think Ryan did what he had to do and I think Biden did what he had to do.

COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) the debate next week for the president?

CASTELLANOS: I'm not so sure it does. I think this buys the president another week until that debate, which wasn't necessarily true before this debate started. You know, air could have kept leaking out of the balloon. So I think this just gets him there. I don't think the structure of the race has fundamentally changed.

But watching social media, I'm seeing spikes now on things like rude, laugh, smirk. You want to win the debate, but you also want to win the post-debate. Over the next few days, what's the buzz going to be? And this Biden stuff I think is something to keep an eye on because I think it may travel. It may grow.

COOPER: It may be like -- like Al Gore's sighs, you think.

JONES: Which is -- which is theater criticism substituting for substance.

CASTELLANOS: Now, wait a minute!

BEGALA: After the last debate -- after the last debate, the Republicans had a real surge in voter registration and volunteers and donations. It was real and it was across the country. My Republican friends all tell me that. I'm quite sure they're telling the truth.

I suspect you'll see the same thing. There may be some people who didn't like his laugh and his smirk. I have been hearing not only back (ph) from donors and political consultants, I just heard from a leader of one of the unions, real blue-collar union, said his guys loved it and he says they're going to have a big surges the next 26 days in volunteers.

COOPER: Let's take it to Wolf -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Anderson, thank you. The first and only vice presidential debate now history, and we're breaking it down issue by issue and moment by moment. And as always, the bigger the color tile up there on the wall for each candidate, the more time he spoke.

So first, here's how they timed out overall. Vice President Biden on the left there in blue, speaking for 41 minutes and 32 seconds tonight. That's about 1 minute and 20 seconds longer than Congressman Ryan did. Bear in mind, last week, President Obama spoke considerably longer than Mitt Romney, but it obviously didn't do him much good. Now, the top three issues of the night. Number one for Joe Biden, it's the economy at just over 6 minutes. Number one for Paul Ryan, budget and taxes at almost 7 minutes. Biden and budget and taxes, are his number two issue. For Ryan, it was the economy. That's the mirror image of Biden.

The vice president, as you can see by the tile, spent the third most time talking about the problems in the Arab world. For the congressman from Wisconsin, number three was entitlements, such as Medicare and Social Security. That's now our team of timers actually scored it.

Unlike the last debate, what was also striking tonight was how similar the two candidates were in terms of the time they devoted to key issues. That's not because they agreed. Instead, it's because for every punch, there was an equally sharp counterpunch.

Some examples -- on entitlements, each differed almost completely, yet the times, at around 5 minutes each, were nearly identical. The same on the foreign policy side, on Iran, again, disagreement, and again about equal time, four-and-a-half minutes each. Likewise on ending the war in Afghanistan. Both the vice president and Congressman Ryan spoke for nearly the same length of time, about five minutes. However, what they said could not be more different. It's all like night and day.

Our correspondents are standing by in the spin room with top representatives of both campaigns, Dan Senor for the Romney campaign, Vice President Biden's son Beau Biden. Stay with us.


BLITZER: We have more results coming in from our poll of registered voters who watched tonight's vice presidential debate. Look at this, 55 percent say Joe Biden did better than expected, 26 percent say he did worse than expected, 18 percent say he did about the same as they expected.

On the other side, 51 percent say Ryan did better than expected, 19 percent said he did worse, 28 percent say he did about the same as expected.

Very, very equally divided opinions, Anderson.

COOPER: You know, it's interesting. If you ask the question, Who won, there's one answer. If you ask who dominated the debate -- I mean, I certainly thought in terms of who dominated the debate, Joe Biden dominated. Whether you thought he did in a rude way or not -- I mean, do you guys agree with that?

BORGER: Yes. I think Joe Biden, because he was so involved -- I mean, Ryan couldn't speak without Joe Biden speaking. And he challenged him on points directly, which is what Joe Biden does, he gets in your face. That's his M.O.

And as Paul pointed out earlier, it was Biden being Biden. In this case, that was what the Democrats needed. They needed somebody who could explain the administration with a certain amount of passion both on foreign policy and on domestic.

GERGEN: Joe Biden is by nature a very passionate person. And he overwhelms almost everybody in conversation. I mean, he just -- he flows. And (INAUDIBLE) you know, he's all around. He's a little bit -- he might -- doesn't quite remind you of LBJ, but there are some of those kind of qualities about...

KING: And Ryan almost conceded the point early on when he said, That's Irish, when and Martha Raddatz was trying to figure out malarkey and some of the other things, the stuff...


KING: That is Irish. That's what a conversation is like around an Irish Thanksgiving dinner or in an Irish pub. But dominated, yes, I think, because he got in on every point, and dominated in contrast to his boss at the last debate. Joe Biden would not yield on anything, wanted to make sure he jumped in on every point.

But if you see the split, you know, a draw who won? What is this going to do? Liberals are energized tonight. Democrats are energized tonight. That'll help the president a little bit. Conservatives are energized tonight. So I don't think it changes the fundamental dynamic of the race. Maybe both will go up a little in the sense that you have energy and activity until Tuesday night.

One other footnote. Historically, a candidate for vice president who bombs at one of these destroys their future credibility as a presidential candidate. Paul Ryan did not do that tonight. He helped himself.

GERGEN: Yes. Want to go back to one more point about -- about the dominance and the passion. What people look for in a president is not always passion. You know, they like a calmer demeanor, a little bit more deliberate.

Paul Ryan, I think, did do very well for his future tonight, but he's not quite there as a president. He's not -- you know, he's got the makings of being presidential over time. But I do think that that quieter demeanor in a debate like this has virtue, and I think that's why it came out to be more like a draw.

MATALIN: Can I say one thing about how this did change this trajectory of this race and the strategy for going forward in these closing weeks? What Ryan succeeded to do both in tone and substance tonight was to undermine the strategic imperative (ph) deal (ph) of the Obama campaign, which is to win by destruction.

So now we have Romney's not an extremist crazy person. Ryan's not an extremist crazy person. And each time they do that, they prove the -- all the $300 million worth attack ads to be incredulous (SIC) and they discredit their future attacks.

You could see their talking point tonight was -- and it was as it was after the Romney debate, He's a liar, he's a liar, he's a liar, because apparently, (INAUDIBLE) dog abuser and all of that didn't work. So now they're just going to call them liars. But every time they prove to defy a caricature of them, it discredits future attacks.

COOPER: Paul, as somebody who's been behind some of those attack ads...


COOPER: ... discredit those ads?

BEGALA: No, and we'll know in 28 days, or 26 days, or whatever it is, but certainly not. He did, by the way, tie his dog to the roof of the car in a dog carrier and drive him to Canada. He's not a felon. Anybody said that was wrong. But...


BEGALA: ... are the issues they talked about tonight. Medicare -- take that one. We saw how much time was spent on that. I know Joe Biden is so smart. He went through all the facts and the stats, and the data and the 716, the vouchers, but then he said, who do you trust? And he sat there with the gravitas and 69 years of living, and the Democratic pedigree that he has, who do you really trust on this? Me or this guy and his -- and his investment bank employer?

CASTELLANOS: Paul, we can do a little better than that. You know, I know you want --

BEGALA: The trust?

CASTELLANOS: No, we can do a little better --

BEGALA: That was Ronald Reagan's point of the realm.

CASTELLANOS: If can. We can do a little better than just saying the election is going to be about Medicare. I know that's what you want it to be about. One thing we didn't see tonight at all that has not changed, and you ask Anderson what changed tonight, one thing that didn't change is Obama's rationale for getting re-elected.

He didn't have any. He didn't offer anything new that would change in the next four years.


CASTELLANOS: We're going to be looking for that in the next debate. Let me -- just a moment.

JONES: Yes, sir.

CASTELLANOS: That's what you guys want it to be about. But we can do a little better than -- than just talk about -- you know, repeating to talk about --

COOPER: Jessica Yellin is standing by with Vice President Biden's son, Beau. Let's check in -- Jessica.

Hey, Jessica, it's Anderson, you're on the air? And we just lost Jessica.

Van Jones, you were saying?

JONES: Yes, well, I mean, first of all, I don't think that that's right. I think -- I heard a very compelling case made for going forward and moving forward. The only thing is --


CASTELLANOS: And what was it?

JONES: But let me just say one thing. One of the things that I don't think I've heard anybody say before, because now the transcript is up. I don't think I've ever heard somebody say there's no humanitarian case to be made for the United States moving forward. In World War II, there's no humanitarian case for me. Paul Ryan did say some things when he got --


COOPER: Well, he backtracked on that, didn't he? He said it's case by case.

JONES: Yes. Look. Case by case, but he was asked pretty directly about humanitarian case.

CASTELLANOS: Using force was humanitarian enough.

JONES: And --

CASTELLANOS: And he said, he said that it has to be in the strategic interest of the United States.

JONES: Of course. Well --

CASTELLANOS: He didn't say humanitarian was not enough.


JONES: That's not --

CASTELLANOS: He said it had to be in the strategic interest of the United States.

MATALIN: Here's the most important substantive point tonight, Anderson.

CASTELLANOS: There's a difference.

JONES: I take it.

MATALIN: That's in the news cycle. Vice President Biden directly contradicted the testimony today and in recent days from the Department of State about what was known when and how much security was provided and when it was asked. He keeps carrying this line.

JONES: I don't think that's right.

MATALIN: Well, you've got the transcript, look it up.

JONES: OK. Good. But I mean -- I thought what he said was directly in line. He said, what we pout out there is what we had when the intelligence sources told us and then take corrections moving forward.


MATALIN: But the intelligence services have said that's not what they were giving them. They never said it was a video. Anybody who's had anything to do with this knew it wasn't a video.

COOPER: But there are also reports I think, at least a week ago, that in the intelligence community there was a belief early on that it was a terrorist attack within the initial days. That contradicts what Joe Biden said. Whether that initial report is correct, I don't know. But it does seem to contradict.

I do want to check in with Jim Acosta, I think, has somebody -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. Yes, I'm with Dan Senor, a senior advisor with the Romney campaign and has also been spending a lot of time with Paul Ryan in debate prep in the last several weeks.

Let me get first -- because you're also a key foreign policy adviser to this campaign. Let me get to Afghanistan first. We heard that debate between -- that part of the debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on the issue of Afghanistan and this withdrawal date of 2014, the end of 2014.

Joe Biden made it very clear this country is getting -- out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. It didn't sound as if Paul Ryan was ready to go there. That he was ready to say definitively this country will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. What is the answer on that?

DAN SENOR, ROMNEY FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR: Sure. According to President Obama's policy, not necessarily what Joe Biden said tonight. But according to President Obama's policy, we transition to Afghan forces in 2014, and the administration maintains flexibility to keep forces or redeploy forces, in some way, even in a non-combat role based on threats that emerge. So there's a number of years after 2014 the administration's own policy allows for that kind of flexibility. And --

ACOSTA: So you guys have the same policy?

SENOR: And so --

ACOSTA: Is it the same policy? SENOR: Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan believe that 2014 should be the transition. They think the flexibility that the president built in was appropriate. But the goal is 2014, handing off security to the Afghan forces in 2014 on that very particular issue there really is no difference between the president and Governor Romney.

ACOSTA: Let me ask you about some of the stylistic points of the debate because we heard Joe Biden interrupting Congressman Ryan on a number of occasions, calling him "my friend," and so forth. Did you guys prepare for that during the debate prep?

SENOR: You know, I've watched a lot of Biden debate tape over the years. I have never seen him quite perform like he did tonight. I'll leave it to others to judge the impact and the demeanor and whether it was appropriate for the Office of Vice President.

I thought the contrast was striking on substance, where Congressman Ryan laid out a plan that he and Governor Romney wanted to pursue for the next four years. He laid out what has happened over the last four years, the president and the -- now the vice president tonight couldn't articulate what happened, no real explanation for what happened over the last four years. No rationale for the next four years, and so on content, there was a real choice between Ryan and Biden, and on demeanor, again, I was -- I was struck by the contrast in demeanor, too.

ACOSTA: All right, Dan Senor. Thank you very much. Appreciate your time.

And, Wolf, I've been talking to several Republicans tonight and -- in this room and they feel like this was essentially a draw. You're not -- I haven't heard a whole lot of people saying to me privately that Paul Ryan won this debate outright. But in their minds, a draw is enough to live to fight another day and not change the momentum of this race.

BLITZER: Yes. I think that's becoming more and more obvious. The Republicans were reassured by Ryan, the Democrats reassured by Biden.

John Berman is ready with another reality check. This time about Mitt Romney's tax plan -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR AND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: All right, Wolf. They did fight a lot about the Romney tax plan. Paul Ryan claimed you could have 20 percent income tax rate cuts across the board, remain deficit neutral without eliminating deductions that benefit the middle class. Listen.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle class taxpayers --

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: Not mathematically possible.

RYAN: It is mathematically possible.


BERMAN: So the facts, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center tells us that given what we know about Romney's plan, it's not possible to cut rates as much as he'd like without eliminating those deductions that would affect the middle class. They say you can't do it without changing rules on capital gains tax and investment taxes, and dividend taxes, which the Romney campaign has said it will not do.

So our verdict here is false, according to the Tax Policy Center, this cannot be done.

Another subject now, the auto bailout. The vice president made the claim, as the president does from time to time, that Mitt Romney said let Detroit go bankrupt.


BIDEN: We knew we had -- after the middle class we immediately went out and rescued General Motors. We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class. And in addition to that, when that -- when that occurred, what did Romney do? Romney said, no, let Detroit go bankrupt.


BERMAN: So here are the facts. On November 18th, 2008, Mitt Romney penned an op-ed in the "New York Times," that the editors there titled, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," though Romney nerve used those words in the piece. In it, he opposed the federal bailout of the industry but he did call for a managed bankruptcy of the auto companies. Something, by the way, the Obama administration ultimately implemented.

So by the letter here, our verdict is false. Romney never did say, let Detroit go bankrupt, even if he supported a managed bankruptcy. Remember, also, his opposition to the bailout or direct federal investment puts him at odds with both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Finally here, will Obamacare force people to lose insurance coverage? Paul Ryan said Obamacare will cost 20 million people to lose their insurance.


RYAN: Look at all the string of broken promises. If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Try telling that to the 20 million people who are projected to lose their health insurance if Obamacare goes through.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Paul's statement. The facts here are this. A Congressional Budget Office analysis this past March mincing the possibility, the outside possibility of 20 people losing coverage due to the law. It was part of a range of possibilities, that also included three million people actually gaining coverage. In its conclusion, the Congressional Budget Office said, the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation's judgment is a sharp decline in employment based health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act is unlikely. Unlikely.

So our verdict here, Wolf, is simply, it's false. Paul Ryan went a little out on a limb there.

And Wolf, I should say this, during our last segment, I pointed out that Paul Ryan was right when he said that Iran now has enough material, enough uranium to make five nuclear bombs. You may be confused because the graphic on the screen said Iran had five bombs, that is obviously not the case. The graphic should have said that Iran had enough material, enough uranium for five bombs. We do fact checks here, so we just wanted to clarify that.

BLITZER: Good work. I'm glad you did. Thanks very much, John.

All right. More results just in from our poll of debate watchers, 57 percent say Biden is qualified to be president, if necessary, 42 percent say he's not. Sixty percent say Ryan would be qualified to be president, 38 percent say he's not. Fifty percent say Paul Ryan expressed himself more clearly, 41 percent say Biden was clear. And look at this, 70 percent say Biden spent more time attacking his opponent, 19 percent say Ryan spent more time on the attack.

Fifty-three percent say Ryan was more likeable, 43 percent found Biden to be more likeable.

Jessica Yellin is standing by in the spin room with a special guest. The vice president's son, the attorney general of Delaware, Beau Biden.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I am here with Attorney General Beau Biden.

You spoke to your dad shortly after the debate. Our poll shows that it was essentially a draw. Paul Ryan slightly ahead. But you must be relieved tonight. He must be pleased. What changed this evening?

BEAU BIDEN, JOE BIDEN'S SON: Well, look, I was very happy, and you know, my dad was in command of that stage tonight, command in the depth of the facts, as you saw, on the whole host of issues from foreign policy to domestic.

What struck me tonight was Paul Ryan actually opening the door to put additional troops in Afghanistan. I served in Iraq. And so it's of particular interest to me. You saw the vice president articulate the clear stated policy of the United States government that President Obama has pressed on, withdraw our forces by 2014.

And you saw Congressman Ryan open the door, wide open, to putting additional forces in Afghanistan. I'm very interested to see what the conversation happening between the governor and Paul Ryan today and their -- their senior foreign policy staff because he opened up a whole new area on a very critically important foreign policy issues that demonstrated -- I said this respectfully of Congress Ryan, this is a person who says foreign policy experience is that he voted to send troops to war, I'm told.

Well, I think you saw a little bit different, you know, depth of experience on this very important issue. You saw a very stark contrast on foreign policy, you saw a very stark contrast on the middle class, on what -- how each would take care -- my father defended Medicare, extend Medicare and make sure it's as it is, and how Paul Ryan would want to voucherize Medicare.

YELLIN: And you and your service came up very briefly there. The congressman mentioned that at one point.

B. BIDEN: Very kind of the congressman. But what you saw was a person opening the door to putting additional forces in Afghanistan. It was remarkable to me.

YELLIN: May I ask, on a topic that might be sensitive to you, but the -- there's been some criticism on Twitter and then among people, the chattering class, about your father interrupting so frequently and his smile during the debate.

Are you concerned that his demeanor during the debate might cause some negative reaction in the coming days?

B. BIDEN: Not at all. Look, if the only criticism coming from the right and from some folks out there is that he smiled too much, I'll take that any day. My father was enjoying the opportunity to debate Congressman Ryan on a very important issue facing this country about whether or not we build the middle class, you know, from the -- from the out, or whether or not we, you know, do as George W. Bush and Paul Ryan wanted to do and kind of this trickle down notions, or whether it'd be on Medicare and how we make sure that we, you know, have the Medicare that we have and -- and will for the future.

YELLIN: So no concern on the style point?

B. BIDEN: No, not at all. My father was in command of that station, command of the facts, and he gave the American people a very clear contrast on two very different paths. And again, Paul Ryan opened up a very, very, very interesting area of discussion about whether or not he and Governor Romney want to commit additional forces to Afghanistan. These are things you can't just talk about loosely and he did tonight.


B. BIDEN: Thank you.

YELLIN: Well, we wish you and your family well. Thanks for talking tonight.

B. BIDEN: Thank you.

YELLIN: All right.

Wolf, it's an exciting night here in the spin room. Both sides claiming victory for their team. It seems from this vantage that it's something of a draw at this point, but we'll see in the coming days what the polls show -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jessica, for that. We're also going to see what our focus group of undecided voters on the critically important battleground state of Virginia have to say about who won, who lost. Will they make up their minds?

We're also getting -- get this, we're getting the reaction from the president of the United States. Take a look at that. He's watching what's going on and look what channel he is watching. He is watching CNN. You can see the squiggly lines at the bottom. We got the focus group.

The president of the United States and his reaction when we come back.


BLITZER: We're getting reaction from the president of United States. There you see, he's aboard Air Force -- one of the conference room aboard Air Force One. He's watching the debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden. You see he's watching CNN. Glad the president has good taste in the channel he selects to watch this debate.

We're also told he thought that the vice president was, in his words, terrific. And he added he couldn't be prouder.

Here's Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee. He's in North Carolina. He was watching the debate as well. We don't have an official statement from him as yet. I'm sure he was very, very pleased, though, with Paul Ryan's performance.

The Republicans really like how Paul Ryan did. Holding his own with Joe Biden. Democrats certainly like how Joe Biden did tonight as well.

Let's take a closer look at our focus group of undecided Virginia voters. How they responded to the candidates tonight. We measured their reaction as they listened to the vice president and Congressman Paul Ryan. Remember the green line represents the men. The yellow line is for women.

Here's Biden's best moment of the night. It happened at around 9:25 p.m. Eastern. The question was, if it's possible to get unemployment below 6 percent. Listen to the vice president talk about taxes and the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: They should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class, we're going to level the playing field. We're going to give you a fair shot again. We are going to not repeat the mistakes we made in the past by having a different set of rules for Wall Street and main street, making sure that we continue to hemorrhage these tax cuts for the super wealthy.


BLITZER: Now let's take a look at Paul Ryan's best moment. He peaked at 9:27 p.m. Eastern, answering the same question that Biden just answered. Listen to Paul Ryan's high point on the economy.


RYAN: We need real reforms for real recovery. And that's exactly what Mitt Romney and I are proposing. It's a five-point plan. Get America energy independent and North America by the end of the decade. Help people who are hurting get the skills they need to get the jobs they want. Get this deficit and debt under control to prevent a debt crisis. Make trade work for America so we can make more things in America and sell them overseas and champion small businesses. Don't raise taxes on small businesses because they are job creators.


BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in Erin Burnett. She's in Virginia with a group of undecided voters, who are watching very closely -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN'S "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": Yes, they certainly were. And let's talk about those highs. Obviously both of them on the economy, and there's -- that's not a mistake. I mean that's what -- the people here thought was the most important, the economy and jobs.

Let's me ask you, Michael, first. So you were -- thought that -- in terms of Joe Biden and -- had to say, what did you think was his strong point?

MICHAEL, VIRGINIA UNDECIDED VOTER: I thought the strong point for Paul Ryan was his goals that he enumerated at the end. He didn't have a plan, but if you don't have a goal, you can't make a plan. I thought that Vice President Biden enumerated neither goals nor plans and was somewhat elusive in terms of defining what the answers to the questions that he was asked by the moderator.

BURNETT: I want to ask Heather here. Because you were -- you were positive on what Paul Ryan had to say, but also frustrated when he listed out his five -- his five goals as you used the word, right?

HEATHER, VIRGINIA UNDECIDED VOTER: Yes. I feel it wasn't a five-point plan. It was a five-point set of platitudes. He told you he wanted to improve education and training, and improve the deficit, and improve trade. But not how he would improve education, how he would improve trade, how he would help the economy other than what his end goals were.

BURNETT: It's interesting, Wolf, you know, some of the frustration people had here was that there weren't lots of specifics in this debate. And, in fact, I know you're going to talk about the low points, but the SMU professors here saying that this debate is the number one debate in terms of the number of low points as scored by the focus group that they've ever done in the past six years.

BLITZER: And I want to do that right now, Erin. Let's take a look at the low points of the debate for both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. Let's begin with the vice president. It came at around 9:10 p.m. -- Eastern, right near the top of the debate when he was explaining the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.


BIDEN: Well, we weren't told there -- want more security. We did not know they wanted more security again. And by the way, at the time, we were told exactly, we said exactly what the intelligence community have told us, that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view. That's why I said we will get to the bottom of this.


BLITZER: That was the vice president's lowest moment according to our focus group. Congressman Ryan's low moment happened near the end of the debate at around 10:20 p.m. Eastern when he was asked about abortion.


RYAN: We don't think that unelected judges should make this decision. That people, through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process, should make this determination.


BLITZER: Let's go back to Erin Burnett. She's with the focus group, that was making those determinations about the low points and the high points.

BURNETT: You know, and, Wolf, at the end of the debate, I read them. I said, this is the moment that you all scored the lowest for Paul Ryan and for Joe Biden. Do you remember the moment? And they did.

I mean how many of you remember the abortion comment from Paul Ryan? Every single person in this room, Wolf. I mean, that's pretty stunning. And in terms of the Libya comment from Joe Biden, how of many here remembered that? Every person. They had strong views.

So let's talk about the Libya -- the Libya issue first.

Chris, you had a strong point of view on that. Go ahead and use that one.

CHRIS, VIRGINIA UNDECIDED VOTER: Yes, I did have a strong point of view. I felt that Biden just didn't quite speak clearly. He didn't have his facts straight maybe. A lot of us -- this is a military town, so most of us have a background in it. But when we went to work the next day, it was automatically assumed it was almost a terrorist attack. And on top of that, we felt that most of these places when you go overseas, the embassies, generally have a Marine detachment or military detachment to protect them.

And why didn't they have that? Why didn't they automatically provide protection for the ambassador?

BURNETT: All right. And, Wolf, you know, the takeaway here, the bottom line, end of the day here, you had a third of the people thought -- that Paul Ryan won, a third of the people think Joe Biden won. But when it came out, if you were forced to vote tonight, again these are undecided voters, Wolf, but if they were forced to vote tonight, Barack Obama picked up three votes, and Mitt Romney picked up three votes. That's what we would call a tie.


BURNETT: Back to you.

BLITZER: That's what we saw, thought right from the beginning. A draw. I guess people agree with us.


BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that. Here's the big picture from our focus group. Overall, those undecided Virginia voters reacted more positively to Congressman Ryan, eight high points during the debate, while Vice President Biden had only five points. And for the low points, Biden had eight of them according to our focus group while Ryan had only one low throughout that 90-minute debate.

So did tonight's debate make viewers more likely to vote for one of these two president -- vice presidential candidates? What about the presidential candidates?

Stand by. More results coming in right now from our post-debate poll and we're just minutes away from an encore presentation of the entire debate.


BLITZER: All right. We're bringing you fresh results from our own poll of debate watchers, 49 percent say Paul Ryan did a better job defending his running mate tonight, compared to 43 percent who say Joe Biden did a better job.

And when we asked who did the vice presidential debate make you more likely to vote for? Twenty-one percent said President Obama, 28 percent said Mitt Romney, 50 percent said neither.

Anderson, I think all the indications are this was a draw.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, I found it just riveting to watch. And I think, as our contributors said, it certainly did energize Democrats and the question is, those independents, those people who are still undecided, will it change their minds, and if so, who won among them?

BLITZER: I was happy there were no references of Big Bird in this debate tonight as well.

COOPER: We'll see next week.



We're seeing some very interesting trends online, on Facebook, Vice President Biden at 36 percent more mentions than Congressman Ryan. The top key words we're seeing about the debate, abortion was the number one issue, followed by malarkey, military and Medicare. Very, very --

COOPER: Malarkey.

BLITZER: Malarkey. Do you say that?

COOPER: I don't think I say it enough.

BLITZER: Malarkey.

COOPER: Yes. But it made -- it was said twice, or at least alluded to several times.

BLITZER: That's a generational thing, I think, between -- you know, Candy Crowley is moderating the next presidential debate Tuesday night.

COOPER: Yes. She'll try to keep the malarkey to a minimum.

BLITZER: Yes, limited malarkey, limited Big Bird, and all of that. We'll be watching very closely, Tuesday night, October 16th. That's the debate that Candy Crowley is moderating. Our special coverage --


BLITZER: You know what times that begins?

COOPER: 7:00?

BLITZER: 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

COOPER: 7:00 p.m. right --

BLITZER: Right after --

COOPER: Right after "THE SITUATION ROOM." BLITZER: Of course. "THE SITUATION ROOM." And then our special coverage next Tuesday.

Anderson, all of our people, they're all coming back, right? Nice glasses.

COOPER: Yes. Nice glasses.

BLITZER: Where did you get those?

COOPER: Well, I'm copying you.

BLITZER: Like those?

COOPER: Yes. Sure.

BLITZER: Nice glasses.


BLITZER: All right. An encore presentation. Get ready, because it's true, an encore presentation of tonight's debate.

COOPER: It's true?

BLITZER: You know when it's gong to begin?

COOPER: I'm guessing five seconds from now.

BLITZER: Right now. Go.