If last week was defined by the presidential debate, this week is all about the vice presidential candidates as Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan prepare to go head to head in a debate Thursday night. Biden faces the challenge of trying to regain the ground that President Obama lost in last week's debate, or as Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers put it, "Is there anything more exciting than Joe Biden thinking it's up to him to get the lead back? It's Tebow time!" Meanwhile, Ryan will be doing his best not to lose the momentum that Romney started.
Biden needs to enter the ring with his boxing gloves on. Ever since Romney picked Ryan as his running mate, the Obama campaign has been attacking the Ryan plan left and right, and Biden has to be ready to throw punches against Ryan's economic philosophy.
One of Biden's biggest advantages going into Thursday's debate is experience. He has more debates under his belt than all of the other candidates combined. But at the same time, Joe knows this isn't going to an easy fight. Ryan has proven to be an eloquent defender of the economic plan that the Romney ticket has laid out--more effective than Romney himself.
Biden also needs to patch up the damage caused by the president's weak performance last week and re-connect with voters--defending the administration's performance, while also laying out a roadmap for what they plan to accomplish with another four years in office.
In addition, gaffe-prone Biden will need to steer clear of sticking his foot in his mouth, like last week when he said the middle class has been "buried the last four years." The gaffe tolerance level for the VP this Thursday night is zero percent.
On the other side of the ring, Ryan needs to be careful not to let Joe set the tone of the debate and get him on his heels. Ryan has to come out swinging and make the case that the Obama administration has failed to fix the country's economic problems. Perhaps no one is better at explaining economic conservatism than Ryan, and the debate will provide him an opportunity to sell the GOP's plan to build a stronger economy directly to the American public, while contrasting that plan to the Obama administration's policies.
The spotlight is on Ryan to demonstrate that he was the right VP pick for the GOP's ticket, and if he can hold his own against Joe, this debate is his time to shine.