Oct. 11, 2012
The most striking thing about GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's allusion to President Kennedy’s tax polices was that mentioning JFK obviously wasn’t part of Ryan’s prepared script.
It’s one thing to go off script into Wonkland; it’s quite another to venture intoterritory when you go there.
In an exchange that found Ryan interrupting to cite “Jack Kennedy” as the vice president disputed Ryan’s budgetary assertions, Biden immediately recognized the fat pitch that had just been served up to him.
Without missing a beat, he took the gift Ryan had just handed him. “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy,” Biden quipped sarcastically.
For even the most casual political debate watcher, the exchange between Biden and Ryan called to mind the 1988 vice presidential debate between Democratic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Republican Sen. Dan Quayle.
After Quayle defended himself against charges of youthful inexperience by saying he had spent almost as much time in the Congress at that point ashad in 1960 when he sought the presidency, Bentsen responded with a "zinger."
“Senator,” the somber-voiced Bentsen counseled the fresh-faced Quayle, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.”
Apart fromgetting a tank in an ill-conceived campaign photo-op, the Quayle-Bentsen exchange is arguably the most memorable pop culture moment of the ’88 campaign.
While Ryan’s reference to JFK was not the “take-away” moment of the night, it will certainly be remembered as one of Biden’s better moments.
For what it's worth, MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow said just before the debate began that while Ryan did not consult 2008 GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin in preparing for the debate with Biden, he did consult Quayle.
Republicans can take heart, however. In spite of the embarrassing moment for Quayle, the Republicans won handily over the Democrats that November.
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Ryan-Biden debate transcript, Oct. 11, 2012, Washington Post
Wikipedia entry on “You’re no Jack Kennedy” line in 1988 VP debate