Just a few days away from the first presidential debate where Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will face off, Paul Ryan tried to tamp down expectations of his running mate saying he doesn’t “think one event is going to make or break this campaign.”
“We’re running against an incumbent president,” Ryan told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace when asked about conservatives saying Romney needs a “clear victory” at Wednesday’s debate. “We’re running against an incumbent president with incredible resources. But more importantly, I don’t think one event is going to make or break this campaign. Look, President Obama is a very — he’s a very gifted speaker. The man’s been on the national stage for many years, he’s an experienced debater, he’s done these kinds of debates before. This is Mitt’s first time on this kind of a stage.”
Wallace quickly reminded him that Romney did 23 debates during the long primary season.
The GOP vice presidential nominee said “what matters in this particular debate and all the debates” is that Romney says what their ticket is “offering to get us back on track.”
“And I think that’s what we’ll get out of Wednesday,” Ryan said. “And if we get that out of Wednesday, then the country understands the choice they have to make.”
Ryan admitted he had been watching tapes of Vice President Joe Biden in preparation for his own vice presidential debate on Oct. 11.
Wallace asked Ryan what Biden’s “techniques,” “tricks,” and “strengths” are.
“He’s fast on the cuff,” Ryan said, before aiming to boost Biden’s debating prowess. “He’s a witty guy. He knows who he is and he’s been doing this for 40 years. So you’re not going to rattle Joe Biden. Joe Biden’s been on the national stage, he ran for president twice, he’s a sitting vice president. What I hope to achieve is to give people an alternative. A very different governing philosophy, different policies. And Joe is very good on the attack. Joe is very good at trying to confuse the issues so that the person leaves the debate confused about who stands for what. My job is to make sure that they’re not – they’re not confused about what we stand for and what they stand for.”
Ryan’s sparring partner is former Solicitor General Ted Olson. This coming week the two will practice for at least two days in Virginia ahead of the debate moderated by ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.
“Ted Olson is one really good debater,” Ryan said. “I hope Joe Biden shows up more than Ted Olson, because I tell you, this is one of the best litigators in America. But what Ted has done is he has studied Joe Biden’s tapes, Joe Biden’s record, Joe Biden’s, you know, style. And Ted, as you know, is one of the best litigators in America, he’s pretty good at adapting to that.”
Ryan said he doesn’t have debate lines ready to go instead saying, “I’m not really a line guy. I’m more of a gut guy.”
“I don’t try to be anybody other than who I am,” Ryan said. “I believe in what I believe. I do what I do. And I really believe in the policies we’re providing, that we’re pursuing. And at the end of the day, I’m just going to go in there and be me.”
One thing Ryan is not counting on? Biden’s famous tendency for gaffes.
“You know he doesn’t do that in debates,” Ryan said. “The gaffes, he’s kind of legendary for this, that’s not in these kind of situations. He does not — he’s a very disciplined person when he speaks in these kinds of situations. He doesn’t produce gaffes in these moments. Those are when he’s off the cuff…I’m not counting on a gaffe, no.”
Ryan admitted that he had called up conservative commentators and pundits, some he already had close friendships with, and acknowledged some campaign missteps, most notably Romney’s now-famous 47 percent line.
“First of all, 47 percent, Mitt acknowledges himself that was an inarticulate way of describing how we’re worried that in a stagnant Obama economy more people have become dependent on government because they have no economic opportunity,” Ryan said. “It was an inarticulate way to describe what we’re trying to do to create prosperity and upward mobility, and reduce dependency by getting people off welfare back to work. So, yeah, those — we’ve had some missteps, but at the end of the day, the choice is really clear and we’re giving people a very clear choice.”
In a leaked video taken at a high dollar fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., Romney said 47 percent of the electorate that will vote for the president are people who are “dependent upon government” and believe “that they are victims.”
Ryan added that despite conservative criticism he is not being utilized enough by the campaign, his running mate “has never once asked me to temper anything down. He said, go out there and sell this.”