TODAY | October 12, 2012
>> right there in the second row of the yankee game in the bronx. i went to see the yankee game, but i tivoed this and watched it this morning. it was different.
>> well, in your event there was a clear cut winner and loser. in this debate, unclear. it was definitely the only chance for a face-to-face showdown during this election for joe biden and paul ryan . they did their best to really make it count.
>> they clashed on a wide range of topics, everything from the economy, to iran, even some social issues, and in stark contrast to the first presidential debate , this one was animated. it was fast-paced, full of cutting attacks. let's get right to nbc's political director and chief white house correspondent chuck todd . he is at the debate hall in danville, kentucky. chuck, good morning.
>> reporter: well, good morning, matt. it was a tale of two different debate strategies really. for joe biden it was about calming down supporters upset with president obama 's performance last week. he went with the kitchen sink approach. paul ryan , he went with the do no harm mantra.
>> when we look weak, our adversary are much more willing to test us. they are more brazen in their attacks and our allies are --
>> that's all a bunch of malarkey.
>> reporter: joe biden played the role of attack dog , gesturing, interrupting, laughing, make is his presence felt when paul ryan was speaking.
>> under a romney administration, we will have credibility on this issue.
>> vice president biden ?
>> thank heavens we have these sanctions in place. it's in spite of their on sgligs oh, god.
>> it's been discredited by six other studies. over 100 criminal investigations that have been launched in just how the stimulus spending has been spent.
>> martha, look.
>> reporter: at one point biden seemed to hold back from cursing. this is a bunch of stuff. here's the deal.
>> what does that mean, a bunch of stuff?
>> here's the deal.
>> it's irish.
>> we irish call it malarkey.
>> reporter: and while ryan largely avoided to take the bait he did push back on biden a few times.
>> mr. vice president, i know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but i think people will be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other.
>> reporter: biden deployed many attacks that president obama failed to use against romney last week, like the infamous 47% remark.
>> it shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47% of the american people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives.
>> mr. romney is a good man. he cares about 100% 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. [ laughter ]
>> but i always say what i mean. and so does romney .
>> we want everybody to succeed.
>> defensing stimulus, biden stayed aggressive.
>> you did ask for stimulus money.
>> sure he did.
>> on two occasions we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants. that's what we do. we do that for all constituents.
>> i love that. i love that. this is such a bad program, and he writes me a letter saying -- writes the department of energy a left saying the reason we need this stimulus it will create growth and jobs. his words. and now he's sitting here looking at me.
>> reporter: and he went after ryan 's stance on abortion.
>> my friend says that he -- well, i guess he accepts governor romney 's position now because in the past he has argued that there was -- there's rape and forcible rape .
>> reporter: this debate featured a heavy dose of foreign policy . biden struggled to explain why the white house had so many explanations regarding the terrorist attack in benghazi.
>> we said exactly what the intelligence community told us, that they knew. that was the assessment, and as the intelligence community changed their view, they made it clear they changed this view.
>> this is becoming more troubling by the day. they first blamed the youtube video . now they are trying to blame the romry/ ryan ticket for making this an issue.
>> reporter: many tense moments, including one when biden came close to channeling lloyd bentsen 's famous attack on dan quayle .
>> senator, you're no jack kennedy .
>> you can cut tax rates by 20%.
>> not mathematically possible.
>> it is mathematically possible. it's been done before. it's precisely what we're prosing.
>> never been done before.
>> it's been done a couple of times actual.
>> i never been done.
>> jack kennedy lowered tax rates and increased growth. ronald reagan --
>> now you're jack kennedy .
>> reporter: well, it's a busy day for three of the four guys on the ticket here. you've got mitt romney who starts his day in north carolina , hits virginia and meets up though with paul ryan in the evening for a joint event in ohio. joe biden , he's going to paul ryan 's home state in wisconsin. president obama actually has sort of a down day at the white house , though he does have dinner with a bunch of campaign supporters. matt?
>> all right, chuck todd , thank