Vice Presidential Debate 2012: How Joe Biden Can Win the VP Debate 2012 vs Paul Ryan


New polls released on Thursday show Romney is making inroads in many battleground states. Thus, his debate performance, no matter how evasive, has helped Romney reboot his campaign. Even more importantly, the debate has allowed Romney to recast himself as a more moderate candidate than his proposals indicate.

Another solid performance by Paul Ryan on Thursday would strengthen the momentum that Romney has been enjoying following the first presidential debate. Vice-presidential debates tend to be inconsequential. However, a strong debate performance by Biden will not only give a boost to the Democratic ticket, but also energize the supporters of the president. To win this important debate, Biden will need to stay focused on Ryan’s record and proposals. Equally important, Biden should emphasize to the public that Ryan, a devotee of Ayn Rand, wants to shift the burden of paying for the country’s growing deficit on poor and middle class Americans, while seeking to cut taxes even more lavishly for people like Romney.

As indicated by Ezra Klein, Ryan is an affable individual and a skilled debater. Thus, a tit-for-tat debate would not be an effective strategy. Biden would be much more effective if he tries to build a thematic case against Ryan. In so doing, Biden would avoid rebutting Ryan on a case-by-case basis. To mount such a case, Biden will find plenty of ammunition by examining Ryan’s record and his many proposals. 

Let’s take a quick glance at his congressional records and those proposals:

When George W. Bush took office, he inherited a surplus. During his eight years in office, Bush passed two huge tax cuts, borrowed immense sums of money to pay for two expensive wars, and passed a prescription drug bill that cost more than the Affordable Care Act. Ryan voted yes for these policies. After voting for legislations that have created massive deficits, Ryan is now pushing policies that would put the burden of paying for them on the poor and the middle class. For instance, Ryan wants to severely cut Medicaid, turn Medicare into a voucher system, and slash programs that provide a safety net to the poor so drastically that the Catholic Church sharply criticized him. 

Hence, Biden should seek to build a full portrait of Ryan to the public instead of trying to fact-check his every evasion. The goal of the debate is to explain to the American people the consequences of the proposals that Paul Ryan has put forward. In Thursday' debate, Ryan will surely adopt Romney’s strategy by arguing that his policies would benefit both the poor and the middle class. Therefore, Biden should focus relentlessly on Ryan’s voting record and policy proposals and their consequences on the country’s budget and how they would impact average Americans. If Biden does not commit any gaffes and puts the spotlight on what Ryan and Romney want to do, he will win the debate because their plan is deeply unpopular.

The debate will be held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, from 9:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m., moderated by ABC's Martha Raddatz. For live coverage, including real-time analysis, live stream, and updates, follow along here.