Tags: | biden | ryan | debate | obama

High Stakes Ryan-Biden Bout Could Seal Deal for Romney

Monday, 08 Oct 2012 07:15 PM

By David A. Patten

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President Barack Obama’s perilous drop in the polls following last week’s shaky debate performance sets the scene for an extraordinary moment in presidential politics: A vice presidential debate that could play a major role in the outcome in November.

If Vice President Joe Biden can prevail in his 90-minute face-off against GOP foe Rep. Paul Ryan, it could turn the media narrative and help repair some of the damage incurred by the weak Obama showing on Oct. 3.

But the savvy Ryan, who gobbles up dense budgetary reports as if they were dime novels, will try to replicate the political jiu-jitsu Romney performed against Obama. If he succeeds, it could go a long way toward convincing swing-state independent voters not to wait to see what four more years under Obama would bring.

Urgent Poll: Romney Vs. Obama – VOTE NOW!

As the media hype builds for the Thursday debate, to be held at Centre College in Danville, Ky., some breathless pundits speculate the Biden-Ryan tilt could be the most consequential ever on the vice presidential level. Even tested veterans of previous political wars are taking notice.

“This debate will be watched closely for a number of reasons,” Susan MacManus, the author and professor of politics at the University of South Florida, tells Newsmax. “Some analysts believe a strong Ryan performance would underscore Romney's performance in the first debate, and make it difficult for the president to rebound on the #1 issue: economic recovery, spelled ‘job creation.’

“Others,” she adds, “believe a strong performance by Biden, especially on Medicare and entitlement programs, could cause some ‘soft’ voters to swing back to Obama.”

Unlike the 2008 debate pitting Biden against then Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Biden won’t have to tread carefully this time to avoid the appearance of attacking a female counterpart. Ryan said he expects Biden to come “flying at us” like a “cannonball” on Thursday. Biden is considered a skilled debater with an everyman charm.

Steve Schmidt, a former top adviser to Sen. John McCain, told Politico he expects Biden to try to seize the offensive, predicting he will “be bringing his proverbial nun chucks and brass knuckles.”

If so, Biden will have to be careful not to cause self-inflicted wounds that will further aggravate Obama’s precarious political situation.

“When he is all guns blazing he tends to misfire,” Tracey Schmitt, a GOP strategist, told Politico.

Democrats see Ryan’s budgetary proposals, which seek to address a looming entitlements crisis that the Obama administration has decided not to address until after the election, as a major vulnerability. In some ways, they have campaigned against Ryan as much as they have battered Romney, charging the GOP ticket would take benefits away from seniors. This despite the fact that Ryan’s plan proposes no changes to the benefits for those already 55 and older.

Urgent Poll: Romney Vs. Obama – VOTE NOW!

Ryan has worked on a bipartisan basis to modify his proposals, making Medicare vouchers an option rather than a requirement. He is expected to reply that the greatest danger to the integrity of Medicare and Social Security stem from ignoring the need to reform them.

The format will closely follow the structure that Romney so effectively used to shift to the center and re-frame his candidacy against Obama. But Biden, who is taking nearly a full week off the campaign trail to hone his debate skills, should be better prepared.

Also, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates, Biden and Ryan will be seated at a table during Thursday’s debate, which will moderated by ABC News chief foreign correspondent Martha Raddatz. It may be more difficult for Biden to muster his vintage class outrage when the cerebral Ryan is seated right beside him.

“It is also fascinating because of the stark generational divide in the participants,” MacManus tells Newsmax. “Analysts are watching the degree to which Ryan's discussion of fiscal reforms from the perspective of the younger generations will resonate with them.”

Apart from subtle demographic appeals, Biden goes into the debate knowing he will have to perform far better than his boss did against Romney. According to the Gallup polling organization, Romney bested Obama by a 52 percent margin in the eyes of registered voters. Gallup reported that is the largest victory margin it has ever recorded.

Urgent Poll: Romney Vs. Obama – VOTE NOW!

The Pew Research organization reported Monday that Obama now trails Romney by 4 percent among likely voters in its national poll. Some polls had the president leading by as much as 5 percent prior to the debate, although the polls were already narrowing.

Biden will have to at least battle Ryan to a draw if the Obama campaign hopes to avoid another hit to its sputtering momentum, pundits say.


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