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A combative debate on Thursday between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan came down to the issue of trust.

They challenged each other’s facts and claims and offered starkly different visions for the direction of the country.

Biden achieved his goal of bringing the fight to his Republican challenger in battling Ryan to a draw, boosting the spirits of Democrats disheartened by President Barack Obama‘s lackluster performance last week in the first of three presidential debates.

Ryan made a positive impression with his command of both domestic and foreign policy issues that showed him to be a formidable national candidate after a career of local congressional races in his native Wisconsin.

A snap CNN-ORC International poll showed voters who watched Thursday’s debate narrowly favored Ryan over Biden by 48%-44%, a statistically even result after GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney scored a clear debate victory over Obama.

Ryan repeatedly said the Obama administration has taken the nation in the wrong direction, asserting it has hindered economic recovery and weakened U.S. influence around the world.

What would you have asked?

The choice is clear: a stagnant economy that promotes more government dependency or a dynamic, growing economy that promotes opportunity and jobs,” Ryan said. “Mitt Romney and I will not duck the tough issues, and we will not blame others for the next four years.”

He also repeated several times, in reference to the recent terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya and other anti-American protests, that “what we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.”

Biden called several of Ryan’s remarks “malarkey” and challenged Americans to trust their common sense when judging proposals by the Republican challengers.

The tax and entitlement reforms proposed by Romney and Ryan would harm the middle class and favor the wealthy, Biden said in seeking to depict Republicans as protectors of the privileged.

“You think these guys are going to go out there and cut those loopholes?” Biden asked about unspecified moves promised by Romney and Ryan to balance broad tax cuts they propose.

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article courtesy of CNN.com

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