Priebus: Biden 'Put His Foot in His Mouth'

Katy O'Donnell
National Journal

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus sought to tamp down expectations for GOP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in the upcoming vice presidential debate, during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

Priebus also downplayed Friday’s jobs report, which found the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent last month, likening the situation to a team getting “blown out” in a football game but pointing to its field goals once a quarter as evidence of success.

Faced with a new CNN/ORC poll that found 39 percent of Americans expect Vice President Joe Biden to win the debate Thursday, while 55 percent expect Ryan to triumph, Priebus tried to raise the bar for Biden.

As with the lead-up to last week’s presidential debate, both campaigns are now engaging in the expectations game.

"I think most people understand that Joe Biden has been debating for a long time – since the early 1900s he's been debating," Priebus said, alluding to the age difference between Ryan, 42, and Biden, 69.

He chalked the poll results up to Biden’s recent gaffes, noting, “Biden as of late has put his foot in his mouth in very public ways.” Just this week, the vice president said the middle class has been “buried” for the last four years; he made waves in August when he said that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains” when speaking to a largely black audience.”

But Priebus played up Biden’s speaking skills.

“He is very good at rhetoric and I think he’s very relatable,” Priebus said.

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