WASHINGTON, D.C., October 12, 2012, ( – Vice President Joseph Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan both proudly claim the “Catholic” label, but that’s where their similarities end. In their contentious first and final debate last night, moderated by Martha Raddatz, the two candidates for U.S. vice president repeatedly clashed over foreign policy, economics, and social issues. 

Their 90-minute exchange skirted the bounds of civility, with Vice President Biden laughing openly during Ryan’s responses and interrupting him a reported 82 times. 

“The next debate Biden should have is with himself,” political strategist Ed Rollins told Fox News. “Paul Ryan was knowledgeable and tried to have a serious discussion on very important issues. Biden insisted on talking over him.”

Rolllins added, “He loves the sound of his own voice and certainly doesn’t want to hear any other viewpoints.” 

Biden, he said, “was rude, talked non-stop, and did nothing to further the discussion in a serious way. He was like a Cheshire cat with his inappropriate smile.”

Blogger and talk show host Ed Morrissey had harsh words for the vice president about his position on abortion. Biden said that while he “accepts” Church teaching that life begins at conception, he is unwilling to let that belief affect his political views.

Morrissey wrote on his blog, Hot Air, “Sorry, but speaking as a Catholic, Biden’s answer was nonsense, as was his attempt to interrupt Ryan with some scolding on ‘social justice.’  The entire Catholic mission of social justice rests on the sacredness of individual human life, beginning at conception — as Biden himself acknowledges in this debate.”

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“The point of social justice is to recognize the sanctity of each human life and act to protect it, be that through shelter, healing, food, and a number of other ways.  However, the most defenseless of all human life is that of the unborn,” Morrissey wrote. “It’s nonsense to say as a government official that you believe that human life starts at conception but that you can’t act to protect it.

Pro-life activist Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, expressed her hope that Ryan’s position might influence Romney’s. She wrote on her Facebook page, “I am sad that the Romney/Paul administration would uphold exceptions. I am praying that they will one day stand strong AGAINST exceptions…ALL EXCEPTIONS.”

The pro-life community also reacted strongly to the biting exchange between the two vice presidential candidates about ObamaCare and the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that will force employers to pay for contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion drugs for their female employees, regardless of their religious beliefs. 

Sarah Torre of the De Vos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation said, “The anti-conscience mandate is unprecedented and unconstitutional, and it is only an early warning sign of how one-size fits all health care requirements will trample on religious liberty as well as individual liberty. It should be a warning sign to Americans that one of the first parts of ObamaCare to be implemented will force employers with religious and moral convictions to violate their consciences.”

“Policymakers should understand the primacy of religious freedom in the American constitutional order and work to protect that freedom, not undermine it,” she concluded.