Biden seeks to reclaim campaign momentum in debate with Ryan

Members of the media work on the Centre College campus before the vice-presidential debate in Danville.

With the Republicans grabbing the momentum in a shifting White House race, Vice President Joe Biden will look to recover some ground and ease Democratic worries on Thursday in a high-stakes debate against Republican challenger Paul Ryan.

Mitt Romney’s steady climb in polls since President Barack Obama’s poor performance in last week’s first debate has raised the importance of the vice presidential showdown, which is rarely a critical event in White House campaigns.

This time it comes at a critical juncture, with Romney enjoying one of his best weeks of the campaign and Obama suffering the fallout from his passive performance four weeks before the November 6 election.

“This has turned into a legitimate high-stakes debate because the ground has shifted so profoundly on the Democrats,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

“Biden at least has to hold his own so panic doesn’t set in for Democrats,” he said. “They don’t want to lose two in a row.”

Biden and Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, meet at 9 p.m. EDT in the nationally televised debate from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

Romney and Republicans have been on a roll since last week’s first debate, which came just as Obama appeared to be taking command of the race. A Reuters/Ipsos online poll on Wednesday showed Romney taking his first lead over Obama in more than a month, 45 percent to 44 percent.

It was one of several national polls showing the debate helped Romney significantly improve his personal image and his standing on key issues like handling the economy, as well as bolster his standing in key swing states that will decide the election.

Democrats have accused Romney of shifting or misrepresenting his positions on issues during and after the debate. Biden is expected to be more confrontational than Obama in an encounter that will include both domestic and foreign policy issues.

“He’s going to have to be on his toes,” Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said of Biden on MSBNC.

“My guess is you’re going to see what Mitt Romney tried to do, which is Paul Ryan … walk away from the positions that he’s held during this campaign and give a much much different, softer image for the American people,” he said.

Democrats accused Romney of shifting positions again on Tuesday when he told the Des Moines Register that he was “not familiar with” any specific legislation targeting abortion that he would pursue. They said he was trying to soften his opposition to abortion rights to appeal to women.

‘A PRO-LIFE CANDIDATE’

But Romney denied he was easing his strong anti-abortion rights stance. “I think I’ve said time and again that I’m a pro-life candidate and I’ll be a pro-life president,” he told reporters at a campaign stop in Ohio.

Ryan told reporters in Florida that he and Romney were unified on the abortion issue. “Our position is consistent and hasn’t changed,” he said.

Biden, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees, has much more experience on the national stage than Ryan, a 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman.

He was a strong performer in the Democratic primary debates during his failed 2008 run for the White House and fared well against Republican Sarah Palin in the 2008 vice presidential debate.

But he also has a reputation for gaffes, most recently his remark that the middle class has been “buried for the last four years” – the span of Obama’s presidency – by a bad economy.

Obama, in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, said he was not worried about Biden.

“I think Joe just needs to be Joe. Congressman Ryan is a smart and effective speaker. But his ideas are the wrong ones and Joe understands that,” he said.

Ryan’s previous debate experience consists of a few congressional debates in his native Wisconsin. He was happy to raise expectations for Biden’s performance.

“Sure it’s a nervous situation. Joe Biden’s one of the most experienced debaters we have in modern politics,” Ryan told reporters. “But the Achilles’ heel he has is President Obama’s record.”

Ryan’s budget plan, which has made him a hit with conservatives, is likely to play a starring role. Ryan proposes slashing government spending and creating a “voucher” system for the Medicare healthcare program for seniors, which Democrats say would leave some seniors paying more of their medical costs.

“The challenge for Biden, and Obama didn’t do this at all, is to put the other side on the defensive and make them explain themselves and their policies,” said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Minnesota.

Biden said he has been studying Ryan’s plan during his debate preparations. Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen has played Ryan in mock debates, while Ryan has been prepped by former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.