Tonight the second of four national campaign debates takes place. Vice President Joe Biden and Republican candidate Paul Ryan will go at it for 90 minutes.
I know many conservatives have been slavering for this match-up, and I imagine many Democrats are hoping that Biden can right the ship after President Obama’s underwhelming performance during the first presidential debate. The veep debate will cover both domestic and foreign policy issues, and will consist of nine 10-minute segments. The moderator will ask a question, each candidate will have two minutes to respond, and then the moderator will guide the discussion of the issue for the remainder of the time period. Martha Raddatz of ABC News is moderating, and given the uproar about Jim Lehrer’s laid back approach during the first presidential debate, I expect that she is getting lots of free advice about how she should discharge her moderating duties.
Conservatives are looking forward to this match-up because they believe that Ryan is knowledgeable and capable and Biden is a gaffe machine who inevitably will stumble into some blunder. That could happen, of course, but I think it’s equally likely that Biden will more than hold his own. He’s an experienced national figure who’s been through lots of debates before, whereas this will be Ryan’s first time all alone on the big national stage. If the Democratic ticket wants to bounce back from the President’s poor showing in the first debate, Biden needs to deliver a strong performance. I’m sure he’s been very focused on making sure that he is adequately prepared.
In the end, I’m not sure that the vice presidential debate means much of anything. I don’t think anyone votes for a ticket based on the veep — but tonight’s debate should be interesting.