The vice presidential candidates meet for their only debate Thursday night in Kentucky.
While vice presidential debates are not known as being game-changers, after President Barack Obama’s widely criticized performance during the first presidential debate against Mitt Romney, analysts say the stakes are especially high in the contest between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden.
Biden hasn’t fielded a debate question in four years and Ryan has never been on a stage this big. But both candidates say they’re ready.
“What I’ve been doing mostly, quite frankly, is studying up on Congressman Ryan’s positions on the issues and Gov. Romney has embraced at least everything I can see,” Biden said. “I don’t want to say anything in the debate that’s not completely accurate.”
“Joe Biden has been on this stage before. He has been on these big stages. This is my first time but what he can’t run from is President Obama’s indefensible record,” Ryan said. “They are just offering more of the same.”
While Biden has been working hard to stay under the radar in recent days, Ryan has been hitting the campaign trail across the country.
Between stops, Ryan has held mock debates in hotels and improvised sessions on his plane with a core team of aides.
Analysts say Ryan’s strengths lie in his ability to speak at ease and in detail about policy issues. They say Biden seems most comfortable discussing national policies and their effect on everyday Americans.
“Biden is going to have to be aggressive in this debate,” said Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush speech writer. “That is not an easy thing to calibrate. You can go overboard here and he is opposing a young, earnest guy that is like a boy scout.”
Thursday’s debate will cover both foreign and domestic topics and will be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each.