Veteran Debater Joe Biden Readies for Vice Presidential Debate
(WASHINGTON) — With 40 years of debating experience under his belt, Vice President Joe Biden hunkered down for several days of intensive preparation in his hometown of Wilmington, Del., this week ahead of his duel with Rep. Paul Ryan in Danville, Ky., on Thursday.
The vice president has been studying and watching videos of Ryan’s interviews and speeches, and he has read a book co-authored by Ryan and Reps. Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy. Biden has incorporated portions of the book he disagrees with into speeches on the campaign trail.
Biden has also held mock debates against Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, with Biden’s communications director and former Washington Post reporter Shailagh Murray playing the role of the debate moderator, ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.
Accompanying Biden at debate prep this week are long-time advisers like former Sen. Ted Kaufman and Mike Donilon. David Axelrod, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, is also attending the debate prep sessions, a decision that was made weeks ago.
Van Hollen has served alongside Ryan on the budget committee and has said he hopes to give Biden an understanding of how the Wisconsin congressman will argue his case.
“I know the way Paul Ryan likes to present his arguments. The vice president, as you know, is very familiar with the key issues, and I hope I can help him get a sense of how Paul Ryan likes to present it,” Van Hollen said in an interview on MSNBC last month.
At the time, Van Hollen predicted Biden would “kick my butt” in the mock debates.
By ABC News’ count, Biden has participated in 23 debates over his career as a senator, presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate. During the 2008 election, he appeared at 14 debates as a Democratic presidential contender and sparred with Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin at the lone VP debate of the cycle.
Biden also took part in two presidential debates when he ran for the Democratic nomination as president in 1988. Ryan has debated eight times in the 13 years he’s been a congressman.
While a campaign official told ABC News Biden’s team is “not re-inventing the preparation wheel,” the approach Biden takes at Thursday night’s debate may differ from the way he handled his debate against Palin.
In the 2008 vice presidential debate, Biden focused most of his attention on attacking Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, with only making passing references to Palin. But in this year’s debate, Biden will likely target Ryan, who he says has given more definition to Romney’s campaign, and his programs head on.
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