Politics Explained: The Vice Presidential Debate

After a widely proclaimed debate win by Governor Romney last Wednesday, the country now turns to the Vice Presidential candidates to see if Ryan will do to Biden what Romney did to Obama.

Politics Explained: Joe Biden and Paul Ryan go head to head at VP Vice Presidential Debate

The Contenders for VP: Paul Ryan and Joe Biden

In the days leading up to this next debate – as you will notice before every major debate – the parties start praising their opponents. To Democrats this week, Ryan is the brilliant congressional economist who will be able to present a lot of convincing information. To Republicans this week, Biden is the smooth, cool, experienced politician who has been preparing for this moment for a long time. But why do this? Why talk up your opponent? Wouldn’t it be more effective to try and lower his self-esteem (as undignified as that may seem)?

This is because, both sides are trying to lower expectations. By doing so, it won’t be as bad if their guy goes down in flames. What would the conversation in politics this past week have been like if everyone was saying that Romney had no chance and that Obama was going to shine? We would be talking an awful lot about how that didn’t happen and how Obama wasn’t the man we thought he was. Instead, because of this rhetoric that he is out of practice, we just look and say, “well, I guess you’re right.” So each side is going to try and raise expectations of their opponents with the theory that, the more you lift the up, the farther and harder they’ll fall.

Politics Explained: Paul Ryan Political Cartoon

The Democrat view of Paul Ryan

But do you think that anyone actually believes the rhetoric? Of course not. Republicans have been salivating at this opportunity for Ryan to take on Biden since Romney first accidentally introduced Paul Ryan as the “future President of the United States,” at his announcement in Virginia. On the same token, Democrats are just dying to see what Joe “Cool” Biden will be able to do with this young radical from Wisconsin.

So what’s it going to be? How is this debate really going to look?

To start, I first recognize just how difficult it is to predict debate outcomes. A week ago, no one would have expected Romney to come away with the biggest debate win in modern US history. That being said, we can look at the contenders and see what they’re up against.

Let’s start with Paul Ryan: He’s smart – brilliant in fact. He was chosen by Romney not for political purposes, but because he is a man who could be president on day one and really is qualified. He was on the House budget committee and was a main author of the House budget which has come to be labeled by the left as “radical.” He’s been apart of many debates on that very budget, and it will most certainly be apart of the debate on Thursday.

Now Joe Biden: He’s experienced. This man has been in Congress for many years. He’s known for being smooth with his words and quick on his feet – even if that means a gaffe every once in a while. But even think about those gaffes. The man is so likable that he has always bounced back from those awkward moments looking as cool, calm, and collected as ever. He has experience in the Vice Presidency.

No matter what they may be saying this week, Republicans see Biden as a bumbling fool, and Democrats see Ryan as a radical rightest whose heart is three sizes too small.

Politics Explained: Ryan and Biden go head to head at (VP) Vice Presidential Debate

Ryan and Biden: Different messages with different strengths

This won’t be an easy win for anyone. Ryan is going to come strong, with lots of numbers and data. Biden will have already seen those numbers and be prepared with rebuttle. He’s going to use his past presidential debate experience to distract from the evidence presented by Ryan and deflect to the idea that Ryan is heartless. Ryan is going to get ticked off at this. And this is the point that will make and break the debate.

If Ryan can keep his cool and keep the debate focused on substance like Romney did last week, then you will hear MSNBC making more excuses for why Biden didn’t do all that great. But if Biden is successful in pushing Ryan’s buttons and gets him to lose his cool and lash out, then Romney will have some catch up to do in the next debates.

As much as either side would like to believe on the inside, this debate is not going to be as easily won for them as they thought.

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