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Wednesday, 30 July 2014 07:48 am

Fingers pointed at a few fibs as bad as it gets for Ryan and Biden

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ACCUSATIONS of “fibbing” have barely raised the profiles of the US vice-presidential candidates.

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan have avoided mistakes, says Katherine Smits, the head of Auckland University’s Political Studies department.

“Both of them have been accused of, let’s call it fibbing, but there hasn’t been any major gaffes.”

Ryan was chosen as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate to secure the conservative Tea Party vote, says Dr Smits.

However, the choice will do little to influence swing voters, and it is in this area that the election will be won, says

“In this election there’s a small, but nevertheless crucial constituency of swing voters, and both the candidates have got to try to appeal to them.

“Ryan isn’t there for any swing voters. Ryan is there to reinforce the traditional conservative base.”

Ryan was chosen to combat what many Republicans saw as Romney’s shortcomings, says Dr Smits.

There are several aspects of Romney that may cause concern for Tea Party voters, such as his Mormonism, his social policies, and his past backing of health insurance, which looks rather similar to what is known as Obamacare.

“What he needed in a vice-presidential candidate was someone who would look like a real traditional conservative, and Paul Ryan certainly fits that bill on social issues.

“He has a good record with what’s regarded as a pretty strong mobilising aspect of the Republican vote, and that’s the Tea Party movement.”

Ryan has consistently presented himself as an uncompromising social conservative, claiming he will “never not vote pro-life” and will remain staunchly against gay marriage.

This is reassuring for many conservatives, who were concerned by statements Romney made back in 1994 that “abortion should be safe and legal in this country”.

Though his stance on abortion has leant more to the right since then, his views are still vastly different from the most conservative Republicans, who campaign for an outright ban on abortion.

It is Ryan’s extremism that allows Romney to make these more moderate claims on such issues, which may secure the favour of swing voters.

“By pairing up with Ryan, what Romney can do is come out in public and make more moderate-sounding claims, but he can also have Paul Ryan in there, meeting, greeting, shaking hands, and most importantly raising money from the more conservative sides of the party.”

Like Ryan, vice-president Joe Biden has stayed primarily in the background throughout the election campaign, and his role will not be a deciding factor in the election, Dr Smits says

“It’s not that [Biden’s] irrelevant, he will have some impact, but I think this race is very heavily concentrated on the two leaders.”

Dr Smits notes that both vice-presidential candidates have avoided making any noticeable mistakes throughout the campaign.

“I think they both were regarded as performing credibly in the vice-president debate.”

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