By Alicia M. Cohn - 10/23/12 12:16 PM EDT
Vice President Biden said in an interview aired Tuesday that Mitt Romney "proved he is not ready to be commander in chief" during the final presidential debate.
Biden leveled the charge in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," as surrogates for the Obama campaign responded to Monday night's debate, which was focused on foreign policy.
“He’s a good man, a decent man, but he demonstrated an overwhelming lack of understanding of the international community; he demonstrated a lack of understanding on the military,” said Biden on NBC's "Today" show.
Biden said that compared to his own vice presidential debate, wherein Romney running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had forcefully criticized the administration’s policies, on Monday, “Gov. Romney seemed to be rushing to agree with everything the president had done already.”
Biden said he was hard-pressed to identify areas where Romney would act differently in office than Obama had.
“Quite frankly, in light of what he said tonight, I don’t know,” said Biden, when asked by NBC’s Matt Lauer to spell out areas where Romney and Obama would diverge. “He agreed with everything we’ve done in Iran, he agreed with everything we’ve done in Syria, he’s agreed with everything we’ve done in Libya.”
Ryan hit back on Monday, dismissing criticism that Romney had been reserved and had missed opportunities to attack the president.
“It’s been a story of changing stories by the administration,” Ryan said during an interview with CBS. “We didn’t want to go into all the different stories of it because what Mitt Romney wanted to do was lay out his vision of the economy, how to have a strong national economy and defense for a strong America.
“There are some things where we do agree,” Ryan continued. “We agree with the decision to go after Osama bin Laden. We agree with the continuation of the Bush drone policy. Those are things where we agree. Where we disagree is in the president’s poor handling of the Iranian situation. Iran is four years closer to a nuclear weapon. The administration fought us on sanctions in Congress, on sanctions on a bipartisan basis for years until we finally got bipartisan support to overwhelm the president’s position, and now we have the sanctions in place.”
In his interview on CBS, Biden, though, said the GOP ticket had “gone from rattling the saber to being doves carrying peace.”
“I don't know what they stand for," he charged. "It’s totally appropriate to point out that Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan have moved their positions drastically. They probably haven’t changed them internally, but they keep running away from them internally."
On NBC, Biden was also asked to compare Romney’s current readiness on foreign policy to that of then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) during his 2008 presidential bid. The vice president said Romney was “not even close” to the experience and knowledge of then-presidential candidate Obama.
“Barack Obama — I was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; he was on my Foreign Relations Committee for four years. He demonstrated a grasp and a gravity. He had a worldview of where America’s position should be, how we should interact with the world, how we should rebuild alliances,” said Biden, on NBC.
“Gov. Romney didn’t demonstrate any breadth of understanding,” he added.
During their third and final debate on Monday night, Romney and Obama fought to establish their credentials as a strong global leader.
The president was aggressive throughout the debate, accusing his opponent of taking “reckless” stances on foreign policy.
Romney, who has been a sharp critic of Obama on the campaign trail, tempered his criticisms during the debate, stressing areas where he said he agreed with the president.
Democrats have believed foreign policy would be an advantage for the president, who has touted his drawdown of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and authorization of the mission to kill bin Laden. But Romney has hit the president hard, seizing on the attack on the Consulate in Libya to paint Obama as weak.
Polls show Romney and Obama running close on issues of foreign policy and national security, but on Tuesday, Biden said he doubted that voters saw Romney as a credible commander in chief.
"As I said, he’s a nice guy and was a great businessman, but my guess is — I’m not a pollster and I’m out of my depth here — but I would be dumbfounded if a day or two or three or five or six from now they thought he had demonstrated a command of international circumstances, America’s position in the world, that he would be a credible commander in chief,” said Biden on NBC.
Jonathan Easley contributed.