Unexpected rise of Mitt Romney’s popularity since he beat his rival in last week’s first debate has increased the importance of the vice presidential showdown, which is rarely a critical event in White House campaigns.
This time the vice presidential debate comes at a critical juncture, as the former Massachusetts governor is enjoying one of his best weeks of the campaign a month before the November 6 election.
“This has turned into a legitimate high-stakes debate because the ground has shifted so profoundly on the Democrats,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Texas.
“Biden at least has to hold his own so panic doesn’t set in for Democrats,” he added. “They don’t want to lose two in a row.”
The opponents are scheduled to meet at 9 p.m. EDT in the nationally televised debate from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
For Vice President Joe Biden, an elder statesman and former senator, a major question heading into his debate with Ryan in Kentucky on Thursday is “a choice of which Ryan we’re going to see,” a Biden adviser said.
“The vice president has been studying up on (Ryan’s) real positions and is prepared to call him out on his actual positions,” continued the adviser.
A top Republican strategist suggested that the best way for the 69-year-old Biden to battle his rival is to tease out the “wonky” Ryan, who loves mind-numbing fiscal details, Reuters reports.
“If I was prepping against Ryan, I would be looking for issues that Romney and Ryan disagree on and try and pull out Ryan the wonk, as opposed to Ryan the running mate,” the strategist said.
This tactics would probably turn off television viewers not used to detailed policy arguments, and thus, Biden would be provided with a chance to paint the Republican team as holding different positions on Medicare.
The Republican nominee campaign has done its best to emphasize that House Budget Committee chairman Ryan has fallen in line with the presidential candidate on fiscal issues.
“You have to remember this is a Romney-Ryan ticket, and there’s one presidential candidate, there’s one person at the top of the ticket,” Romney spokesman Kevin Madden told reporters on Tuesday.
House Budget Committee chairman met staff to discuss the upcoming Thursday debate and other topics at a hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida on Wednesday morning before flying to Kentucky later in the day.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, announced in an interview on Wednesday that he was not worried about Biden.
“I think Joe just needs to be Joe. Congressman Ryan is a smart and effective speaker. But his ideas are the wrong ones and Joe understands that,” President Obama said.
Ryan has a great experience in debates which consists of a few congressional debates in his native state Wisconsin. He was happy to raise expectations for Biden’s performance.
“Sure it’s a nervous situation. Joe Biden’s one of the most experienced debaters we have in modern politics,” Ryan told reporters. “But the Achilles’ heel he has is President Obama’s record.”