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Truth Squad: The vice presidential debate

Both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan flub some of the specifics in their vice presidential debate.

NBC News takes a deep dive into the statements made by Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan in their first and only debate of the 2012 election cycle. From Libya to Medicare, we put their comments to the test.

Biden and Ryan started the debate on the topic of Libya, specifically, the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. We now know that this attack was perpetrated by terrorists.

Ryan accused the Obama administration of not properly protecting the ambassador.

“What we should not be doing is rejecting claims for calls for more security in our barracks we need marines in Benghazi when the commander on the ground says we need more forces for security there were requests for extra security, those requests were not honored,” Ryan said.

Biden called the deaths a tragedy, but he then claimed that the Obama administration did not know that the ambassador and other  personnel on the ground had been more asking for more security.

“We weren't told they wanted more security,” Biden said. “We did not know they wanted more security men and, by the way, at the time, we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew, that was the assessment."

But the State Department did know that requests for more security resources had been made and were turned down.  A State Department official acknowledged that testifying Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

During Thursday's debate, Vice President Joe Biden and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan spar over the Obama administration's foreign policy.

The vice president was right when he argued that Congressman Ryan and House Republicans voted to cut the federal budget for State Department security around the world.
“This lecture -- on embassy security, the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by three hundred million dollars below what we asked for," Biden said.

On Iran, Ryan accused the administration of watering down sanctions and blocking congressional action. Biden pushed back against that charge.

"Imagine had we let the Republican Congress work out the sanctions," said Biden. "You think there's any possibility the entire world would have joined us, Russia and China, all of our allies? These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions. Period."

Biden is mostly correct: the administration did marshal international support for the most crippling sanctions, although they did not want to sanction Iran's central bank until Congress forced the president to do so.

Biden accused Ryan of being a big government spender.

Ryan voted for the Bush tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs -- all of which Biden says added to the deficit.

“And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, ‘Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?’” Biden said. “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. I was there. I voted against them. I said, no, we can't afford that.”

But looking at Biden’s own Senate votes, he voted for an early version of that Medicare prescription drug coverage. But later, Biden did not support the final Medicare drug benefit that President George W. Bush signed into law.

And the vice president was incorrect when he suggested tonight that he did not support the two wars because the country could "not afford" them. Biden voted for both wars.

There was a sharp disagreement over Medicare. Biden charged that Ryan’s original plan would raise out-of-pocket costs.

“Look, folks, use your common sense,” Biden said. “Who do you trust on this -- a man who introduced a bill that would raise it 40 -- $6,400 a year; knowing it and passing it, and Romney saying he'd sign it, or me and the president?”

Ryan objected.

The vice presidential candidates get heated talking about overhaul proposals of the nation's Medicare system.

“That statistic was completely misleading,” Ryan said. “But more importantly, this is what politicians do when they don't have a record to run on: try to scare people from voting for you.”
In fact, on this Biden is right -- the Congressional Budget Office said Ryan’s first budget plan would force most future seniors to pay increased costs of that amount or more. Whether a revised plan would cost more is uncertain.