Even if it has trouble living up to its billing — “The Thrill in the Ville” — Thursday night’s vice presidential debate promises to be an intriguing showdown between old and new, left and right.
Los Angeles Times political reporter Mark Z. Barabak, veteran of seven presidential campaigns, will be featured in a Politics Now video discussion about the showdown between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan at 1 p.m. PST today.
The debate in Danville, Ky., will feature a vice president renowned for both his folksy ways and for his frequent verbal slips. Just 39% approved of the veep in a recent Pew Research Center poll compared to 51% who disapproved. By comparison, 44% viewed Wisconsin congressman Ryan favorably, while 40% had a negative view.
Biden, 69, comes to the Kentucky stage with a combination of low expectations from the general public but high hopes from Democratic partisans, who are counting on him to fight the Republican ticket more aggressively than President Obama did last week in his first debate with Mitt Romney. Ryan has been talking a lot about his lack of experience debating on the national stage, though Republicans are high on his chances. They believe that, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, he comes to the debate with too much information to be tripped up by the more experienced Biden.
Both men could be asked to answer to contradictions. Ryan, 42, has been farther right than his running mate on many issues, including his support of a ban on virtually all abortions, except when the mother’s life is threatened. Romney was once pro-choice, before modifying his view as he eyed appealing to conservatives with his presidential run. Ask Romney about what he thinks of Ryan’s plan for Medicare and the presidential nominee insists on speaking about his own plan.
For his part, Biden might be asked about some of his statements from his decades in the U.S. Senate. ABC News released video Thursday that showed Biden speaking ominously about rising deficits during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. He called for across-the-board spending cuts that would affect Social Security and the military, positions that might sound not so dissimilar from Republicans today.
Barabak and I — Politics Now host Jim Rainey — will talk about the possible landmines in the debate and what the showdown means to the presidential contest.
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