Rep. Chris Van Hollen says he’s eager to start work in his new role playing the part of Paul Ryan in upcoming practice debates with Vice President Joe Biden.
The Maryland congressman was picked by the Obama campaign to help Biden prepare for the real debate with the Republican vice presidential nominee on Oct. 11, because he’s the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs.
“We’re going to get started in earnest soon,” Van Hollen told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Thursday. “The vice president knows these issues well, from budget issues to national security and foreign policy issues.
“I know how Paul likes to present those issues. And so I think I may be able to be of some help to the vice president," Van Hollen said.
Asked if Democrats are worried that Biden would be “a loose cannon” in the debate or “say something stupid,” Van Hollen said the vice president himself would be the first to admit “there are times when he has misspoken.”
But he told Cavuto that Biden always “speaks from the heart” and most Americans know that “he is the guy who is always looking out for the average Joe.”
“He is known for that, and that will come through,” Van Hollen said.
Cavuto, noting the Democratic convention focused on the idea that President Barack Obama needs four more years to put the nation back on strong economic footing, also asked Van Hollen if there was any anything he thought the president had done wrong so far.
“Not the substance of it,” Van Hollen said.
But Van Hollen suggested the president may have made a mistake early in negotiations with Congress over the 2010 healthcare law because “he let some Republicans, especially in the Senate, make him think that they actually wanted to work out something along the lines of the Mitt Romney Massachusetts plan.”
“But other than that kind of thing, I think the president was in very challenging times,” Van Hollen said. “We know that — the economy was in freefall.”
Cavuto, however, challenged the congressman’s suggestion that Obama has done what he can with “the mess” Democrats claim he inherited “from the last guy.”
“Look, Neil, I think we all know that when something is going down really fast it takes time to stop it,” Van Hollen replied. “The president acted immediately — he passed the recovery bill — he passed the auto rescue bill.
“I would ask: ‘What would Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do?’ We know that Mitt Romney was in favor of government intervention to help Wall Street, right? He was in favor of the bank rescue. But when it came time to help the auto industry and American manufacturing, forget it, no government role," Van Hollen added.
The congressman said former President George W. Bush was right to ask Congress before he left office to intervene in the Wall Street crisis, which many Republicans still insist was a mistake.
“President Bush is the one that asked Congress to intervene, because they believed — and I think they were right— that if you hadn’t intervened, you would have seen the total collapse of the American economy,” Van Hollen said.
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