As far as Rob Zerban is concerned, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is debating the wrong guy.
Zerban, who is challenging Rep. Ryan, R-Wis., for his House seat, traveled to Danville, Ky., for Ryan’s debate there against Vice President Joe Biden to tell anyone who would listen that he wants a debate against Ryan for himself.
“He’s running around the county carrying water for Mitt Romney, and he’ll only fly to the district for $1,000-a-plate dinners,” Zerban told ABC News. “And if he can find time to do that, he should come back to the district and find time to debate.”
Tune in to ABCNews.com on Thursday for livestreaming coverage of the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate moderated by ABC’s Martha Raddatz in Danville, Ky. Coverage kicks off with ABC News’ live preview show at noon, and full debate coverage begins at 8 p.m.
Ryan is on the ballot for re-election in his House district even as he runs alongside Mitt Romney as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee and, despite Zerban’s protestations, Ryan has yet to grant him a debate. With his hands presumably full running in a national campaign, Ryan is not expected to.
The underdog Democrat says that’s a slap in the face to Wisconsin voters.
“He can ignore the voters if he wants, but he does so at his own peril,” Zerban told ABC News.
Zerban hopes Biden forces Ryan to explain inconsistencies of policy.
“I’m hoping that the vice president calls Paul Ryan out on all of his lies,” Zerban said. “You know, we’ve seen this disturbing pattern of dishonesty … whether it’s his marathon times, or the peaks he’s climbed in Colorado, or his body-fat percentage … Paul Ryan never mentioned one time last election that he was going to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher program.”
Along with the boost in Ryan’s national profile, Zerban says Ryan’s presence on the GOP ticket helps him in his race against the incumbent House Budget Committee chairman.
“I think it helps,” Zerban said. “You know, we’ve seen the national spotlight being focused on the out-of-touch Ryan budget, and once you get into the details – and the devil’s always in the details – people don’t like what they’re seeing in there.”
Ryan won re-election with 64 percent in 2010 and he’s expected to beat Zerban in 2012. But Zerban is putting up a better fight than some of his predecessors: His campaign outraised Ryan’s House campaign by more than $200,000 in the third quarter of 2012.