The Washington Post

Paul Ryan on debates: ‘I don’t think one event is going to make or break this campaign’

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (Wis.) sought to lower expectations for the first presidential debate, saying Sunday he doesn't believe a single event will dramatically alter the shape of the campaign. 

"I don’t think one event is going to make or break this campaign," Ryan said on "Fox News Sunday. 

Ryan said the country can expect his running mate, Mitt Romney, to set up a stark choice on Wednesday, when he and President Obama debate in Denver, for the first time. 

“I think what people are going to see is, who is Mitt Romney. What kind of president is he going to be and what are the choices I have. That, to me, is what matters in this particular debate, and all the debates," Ryan said. 

Host Chris Wallace asked whether the choice argument represented a shift away from the effort to turn the race into a referendum on Obama's policies.

"It's not change in the strategy. It's a phase of the campaign we've now entered," Ryan responded.

Looking ahead to the Oct. 11 vice presidential debate, Ryan said that Vice President Biden is very good at confusing viewers about the issues that matter.

"Joe is very good on the attack. Joe is very good at trying to confuse the issues," Ryan said, adding: "My job is to make sure they are not confused." Ryan said he is not counting on Biden making a gaffe. 

Ryan also weighed in on foreign policy, bashing the Obama administration's handling of the attack at an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the life of four Americans including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Obama administration officials first said the attack was spontaneous, but later concluded it was an act of terror with ties to al-Qaeda. 

"The response was slow. It was confused. It was inconsistent," Ryan said. 

Ryan also talked about the GOP ticket's proposed 20 percent cut in tax rates for all Americans. But he said a lengthy discussion would be required to go through the specifics of it. "It would take me too long to go through all the math," Ryan said. 

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
67% 22%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

March 6: Democratic debate

on CNN, in Flint, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.