(WASHINGTON) — When Vice President Joe Biden steps on the stage at Centre College for the Vice Presidential debate in Kentucky Thursday night, it will be the first time the vice president has been on national television airwaves answering questions from a reporter since the May Meet the Press interview when he expressed his comfort with gay marriage.
The vice president has engaged in no national TV interviews and few local and print interviews since May, which forced President Obama to complete his evolution on the issue sooner than expected.
Biden’s lack of subsequent national interviews stands in stark contrast to his Republican counterpart Rep. Paul Ryan, who is creeping towards the 200 interview mark since he entered the race in August. Ryan conducts interviews with local television stations during many of his campaign stops as well as national interviews, including a recent joint interview with his running mate Mitt Romney with FOX News’ Sean Hannity last week.
In contrast, Biden has only completed one major national interview since Ryan entered the race. The vice president granted access to New York Magazine’s John Heilemann in August for a cover story that took place over a three day campaign swing through North Carolina and Virginia. That was the same campaign swing in which Republicans seized on Biden’s suggestion to a predominantly African American audience that the GOP would put people “back in chains” by undoing a Wall Street Reform bill.
By ABC News’ count, Biden has conducted less than a handful of interviews with local television stations and newspapers over the summer and into the Fall months. In May, Biden took time for an interview with WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio where he was asked about the more than 40 percent of West Virginia voters who cast their ballot for a Texas inmate in the state’s Democratic primary.
Reporters traveling with Biden have had few opportunities to question the candidate. Last week, he spoke with reporters about his debate prep outside a Hy-Vee supermarket in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Earlier in the month, reporters shouted questions to Biden the day after Romney’s 47 percent video surfaced but only received a response of “I’ll let his words speak for themselves.”
While Biden has engaged in few on-the-record question and answer sessions with reporters, he does take the time to directly answer questions posed to him by voters, whether it’s over the phone while dialing up potential voters at campaign field offices in Iowa or Ohio or taking questions as he sits down to eat lunch at a restaurant. During a stop last month at Nestor’s Gourmet Deli in Boca Raton, Fla., Biden engaged in a conversation with a voter who had questions about how President Obama’s healthcare plan would lower the amount he pays for healthcare. Biden interspersed answers with slurps from a bowl of soup and bites from a tuna salad platter he had ordered.
The Obama campaign did not respond immediately to a request for comment but previously noted to ABC News that the vice president has maintained a vigorous campaign schedule throughout the election cycle.
“Day after day, event after event, the Vice President has been traveling across the country all year making the case about what’s truly at stake in this election, taking Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan’s agenda head on and making clear why President Obama is the right choice for middle class families. In more than 100 events this year, the Vice President has been campaigning in states across the country directly connecting with voters in their communities,” a campaign official told ABC News last month.
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