Expectations Run High For Ryan

National Journal Staff
National Journal

Conservatives have been licking their chops in anticipation of a debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden ever since Ryan was announced.

Now, after Mitt Romney's strong performance in the first presidential debate, the pressure is on Ryan to maintain the momentum, and many on the right don't think that will be difficult.

There’s a buzz around the vice presidential debate on Thursday in Kentucky because the two candidates know their policy, said Ted Kaufman, Biden’s chief of staff for 19 years. In particular, there’s a sense among Republicans “that maybe Governor Romney hasn't been the best messenger for what they believe in,” Kaufman added.

Confidence in Ryan’s intellect is matched only by a sense that the gaffe-prone vice president can’t be taken seriously. "He is going to wipe up the floor with Biden in the debates," Republican strategist Ed Rollins told Fox News this summer.

But Biden’s no fool, and the sky-high expectations for Ryan could set him up for failure. For a self-described “numbers guy,” Ryan can also be oddly hazy on specifics.

Biden may make clumsy remarks, but he’s a seasoned debater, with a gut connection to middle-class voters. As former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm put it, “He connects with real people better than anybody.” Read more

Sophie Quinton


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