Rep. Chris Van Hollen has reportedly been tapped to play Rep. Paul Ryan in the debate preparations for Vice President Joe Biden, and with good reason — Van Hollen knows Ryan well because the two went head-to-head on tax and spending issues as the top members of the House Budget Committee.
The Maryland Democrat told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday that he “gets along very well” with Ryan, who Mitt Romney has tapped to be his GOP presidential running mate, and has had plenty of “civil debates” with him over budget issues.
But Holland, the ranking Democrat on the Budget panel that Ryan chairs, said the two still “disagree deeply on the policy issues.”
“Paul is passionate about what he believes,” Van Hollen told Van Susteren. “And he is, as Mitt Romney said, the ideological leader of the Republicans. And in the House that means, in some ways, that [Ryan’s budget plan] has become the tea party manifesto.
“It is not a compromising document. It’s uncompromising,” Van Hollen said.
The Democrat said his Republican colleague was willing to listen to alternative budget proposals last year, but he added that there’s “a big difference between a willingness to listen, a willingness to engage in civil discussion, and a willingness to actually compromise.”
“I think he was interested in what we have to say. But I think he is so fixed on his own views, and passionate about his own views, that in some ways, it has, I think, blinded him to the facts on the other side,” he said.
Van Hollen added, however, that Ryan’s addition to the Republican ticket should at least help focus more attention on the serious differences between Romney’s policy views and those of President Barack Obama on everything ranging from the economy to Medicare.
“That’s what this election is all about. It’s about choice, and I think by putting Paul Ryan on the ticket, Mitt Romney has sharpened that choice,” Van Hollen said.
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