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Congress Takes Center Stage in VP Debate

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (above) and Vice President Joseph Biden have a combined 53 years of experience on Capitol Hill. Congress is expected to play a larger role in their debate than it did in last week's presidential debate.

“No one better understands or articulates these issues than Ryan,” a top National Republican Congressional Committee aide explained.

Coming off Romney’s performance and in full knowledge of Biden’s tendency to commit verbal faux pas, the Ryan camp is doing its best to temper expectations.

Ryan’s camp is more than aware that Biden has a ton of experience, including 18 presidential and vice presidential debates in his career, 14 of which were in the 2008 campaign. His tendency toward gaffes tends to arise more on the campaign trail than in debates.

“Joe Biden is as experienced a debater as anyone in national politics, and he has a deep résumé in domestic policy and foreign affairs,” spokesman Brendan Buck said. “This is Congressman Ryan’s first time on this big stage, so we’re taking preparation seriously. After the president’s performance last week, we know Joe Biden will be coming at us like a cannonball.”

Ryan spent three and a half days last week in Virginia focused on debate prep and started another day and a half of it Tuesday in Florida. He’s also had a few other days in previous weeks sparring with Ted Olson, who served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that Biden would be ready to go after Ryan’s budget plans and to lay out the differences between the candidates.

Obama strategist David Axelrod is helping prep Biden. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is helping and standing in for Ryan.

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