The pressure on Ryan has risen as well. Romney greatly exceeded expectations, appearing both presidential and in command of the debate stage. Ryan, who has never before debated at the national level, must prove that he is potential presidential material — while also defending the numbers that Romney put forth last week, especially on tax cuts.
Both sides are offering sky-high predictions for the other team. “There’s a lot on the line,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a chief Romney-Ryan ally. “President Obama failed to defend his record and could not articulate a vision for the future. So I think that challenge now falls to Vice President Biden.”
Bill Burton, former White House deputy press secretary and co-founder of the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, argued that the burden is actually on Ryan.
“Ryan is going to face pressure to explain some of the dishonest claims he and Romney have been making, especially on things like Medicare, taxes and the auto industry,” he said.
One point on which both sides appear to agree is that Biden is likely to be more aggressive in his face-off against Ryan than Obama was debating Romney.
Speaking with reporters last Thursday before a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, rally at which he sharply criticized both Romney and Ryan, Biden previewed the debate by noting that he’s been “studying up on Congressman Ryan’s positions on the issues.”
“I just want to make sure that when I say these things, I don’t have the congressman — ‘No no no, I don’t have that position,’ or, ‘That’s not the governor’s position,’ ” Biden said. “So, it’s mainly getting the factual predicates for everything that — not everything, but the key issues on which Governor Romney has spoken and Congressman Ryan has.”
Ryan, for his part, said that he believes Biden will be an aggressive opponent. “I expect the vice president to come at me like a cannonball,” Ryan told the conservative Weekly Standard Thursday night. “He’ll be in full attack mode, and I don’t think he’ll let any inconvenient facts get in his way.”
Both White House contenders have been deeply engaged in debate preparations even as they maintain busy schedules on the campaign trail. For Biden, that has meant squeezing in time for debate preparations while visiting with his family in Delaware, as he did one weekend earlier this month. For Ryan, it’s meant practice sessions in Washington, as well as his hometown of Janesville, Wis.