* Romney campaign seizes on Biden Benghazi security comment
* Obama prepares for debate rematch with Romney next Tuesday
* Reuters/Ipsos polls: Romney lead slips, Biden won debate
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON, Oct 12 Joe Biden's spirited
performance in the vice presidential debate had Republicans
criticizing him on Friday for snide grins and a comment on
Libya, but it set the stage for President Barack Obama to try to
regain his footing in a rematch with challenger Mitt Romney next
After Obama was seen as largely passive against resurgent
Republican Romney last week in their first debate before the
Nov. 6 U.S. election, Vice President Biden fired up Democrats in
Thursday night's debate by aggressively challenging Paul Ryan,
Romney's running mate, on taxes, healthcare and foreign policy.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted after the debate showed that
42 percent of registered voters felt Biden had won, versus 35
percent who picked Ryan. Twenty-three percent said they did not
know who had come out ahead.
"Vice presidential debates don't change electoral outcomes,
but it may have done a little bit to stem the tide," Ipsos
pollster Julia Clark said.
In a sign the race is tightening again, Romney led Obama by
1 percentage point, 46 to 45 percent, among likely voters in the
Reuters/Ipsos daily online tracking poll released on Friday.
Romney led by 3 percentage points in Thursday's poll. Most poll
respondents were questioned before the vice presidential debate.
More than 51 million Americans watched the vice
presidential debate, ratings data released on Friday showed.
Republicans tried to prevent Biden's performance from giving
momentum to the Democratic ticket by criticizing the vice
president's demeanor during the debate. They said Biden grinned
too much and was rude to Ryan during their animated encounter.
They made Biden's comments about security at the U.S.
diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 their theme
of the day, hoping to puncture Obama's credibility on foreign
When asked in Kentucky about whether the mission had
requested more security in the months leading up to the attack,
Biden said, "Well, we weren't told they wanted more security
again. We did not know they wanted more security again."
At a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, Romney accused
Biden of contradicting testimony by U.S. State Department
officials who said this week the consulate had raised fears
about security before the attack, which killed Ambassador
Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
"He's doubling down on denial," the former Massachusetts
governor told a cheering crowd.
Democrats dismissed the Republicans' stance as a bid to
politicize a tragedy.
Biden sought to keep up the pressure on the Republican
ticket on Friday, using a visit to Ryan's home state of
Wisconsin to blast him for his positions on abortion and the war
"If anyone had a doubt about what's at stake in this
election when it comes to women's rights and the Supreme Court,
I'm sure they were settled last night," Biden told a rally.
Biden believes abortion should be legal. Ryan opposes it
except in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother's
Biden's strong debate performance gave Obama a chance to
stabilize his campaign after a bad week and deliver his own
vigorous argument for why he deserves a second term in the White
A good showing at the presidential debate set for Tuesday at
Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, could give Obama a
chance to halt Romney's rise since the two went head-to-head in
Denver on Oct. 3.
Fresh off that performance, Romney grabbed a small lead in
many national opinion polls, reversing what had been a small but
growing advantage for Obama since the Democratic convention in
Obama was to travel to Williamsburg, Virginia, on Saturday
to spend three days getting ready for the next debate. After his
Virginia rally, Romney traveled to Ohio where he and Ryan were
holding a joint rally in the city of Lancaster.
Democrats said they expected Obama to come out swinging
during the town-hall style contest on Tuesday.
"The president watched the debate last night, thought the
vice president did an excellent job presenting this
administration's case," said White House Press Secretary Jay
Carney, who formerly was Biden's main spokesman.
"I'm confident he (Obama) will make that case when he has
the opportunity to go before the American people again in a
debate next week," Carney told the daily White House briefing.
Carney said Biden's laughter on Thursday night was a sign of
the "enormous amount of passion and joy" he brings to his
position as vice president.
Biden, 69, scored points against Ryan, a 42-year-old
congressman, with a fiery delivery that highlighted his
experience in foreign policy and hit hard on domestic issues.
Ryan largely met his challenge of trying to show he was
knowledgeable and presidential - and that Romney had not made a
mistake in choosing him as his running mate.
The two campaigns both claimed victory.
Biden sharply questioned many of the Romney-Ryan team's
positions, hitting Ryan hard on issues that Obama frustrated
supporters by failing to contest in the first presidential
Biden pounced upon Romney's tax returns, the Republican's
position to let U.S. automakers go bankrupt, his proposal to let
struggling homeowners lose their houses and his dismissal of 47
percent of the American public as unproductive parasites.
The third and final presidential debate will take place on
Oct. 22 in Florida.