Joe Biden has been in Washington three times longer than Paul Ryan. Joe Biden is currently the second most powerful man on the planet. The one thing they have in common is that they’ll be on the same stage debating tonight in Danville, Kentucky.
Ryan’s mission should not be a passive one. Everyone knows Joe Biden can gaffe at any moment, but Ryan should do what he does best: defend and explain conservative principles. He should use those same skills to guard Mitt Romney’s agenda against Biden’s attacks.
VP’s are usually the attack dogs and Ryan is an expert at the minutia of policy. I’m fairly certain that Joe Biden is not. Ryan can use that expertise to run intellectual circles around Biden. On economic stats or debt stats Ryan can simply and calmly explain the folly of the past four years and use math as his greatest ally.
Ryan can also use arithmetic as a defense of the Romney record and agenda. If Biden attacks him on his entitlement reform plans, take America through the math. Show that if these programs aren’t reformed, no one will receive benefits. If Biden falsely alleges (again) that Romney’s tax plan is a $5 trillion boondoggle, then Ryan should pick the partisan analysis apart and show it’s false. At every turn, Biden should face the stats and the math.
I’ve heard many iterations of this debate but the best analogy I can come up with is it’s a battle between the wiz-kid and the crazy uncle. Ryan can’t compete with Biden’s folksiness and he shouldn’t try. He needs to be the super-smart nerd. Biden can use catchphrases and rhetorically throw barbs, but Ryan should simply and calmly overwhelm the Vice President with numbers.
If I’m Ryan, I don’t worry that the debate might become boring. That’s fine. VP debates aren’t known for their big impact. All he has to do is show he deserves a spot on that stage. By the end of the debate, people should be saying that Paul Ryan is a sharp man with a good grasp of the facts. Everything beyond that is icing on the cake.