The pressure to "reset" the presidential race is on President Obama's team this time around. With a variety of new polls showing Mitt Romney's riding the wave of his post-debate surge to a near deadlock among likely voters, the Obama campaign is looking for ways to break the challenger's rising tide.
And Vice President Joe Biden is lining up as the man to do it.
"The Obama campaign has lost all the momentum they had and now are in danger of falling behind," ABC News political analyst and former George W. Bush campaign strategist Matthew Dowd said this morning. "Biden is important to stop the bleeding and regain their footing. And as important, Ryan has to not step in it, so the Romney trajectory can continue."
Dowd was reminded of Bush's poor opening debate performance in 2004, which briefly gifted Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry a similar bump in the polls.
"When Cheney asked me in debate prep what he needed to do after the Miami debacle, I said, 'Stop the gangrene from spreading,'" Dowd said. "Biden has to do same."
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.
For his part, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan says he expects Biden to come at him "like a cannonball."
"They're just going to call us liars for a month, is basically what they're going to do, it looks like," Ryan told Michigan radio host Frank Beckmann Monday, "to descend down into a mud pit and, hopefully, with enough mudslinging back and forth and distortion, people will get demoralized and then they can win by default."
The Wisconsin congressman, though, had an awkward end to his day, walking out of a local TV interview after being challenged by a reporter on whether the country had a gun-violence problem.
Ryan parried the initial question, calling "crime" the issue, not guns, and pointing to the Romney-Ryan economic plan as the means for boosting a "civil society" that would reject all kinds of violence.
"You can do all that by cutting taxes? With a big tax cut?" WJRT's Terry Camp asked Ryan in response.
"Those are your words, not mine," Ryan replied before spokesman Michael Steel cut off the exchange.
"The reporter knew he was already well over the allotted time for the interview when he decided to ask a weird question relating gun violence to tax cuts," another Ryan spokesman, Brendan Buck, said later.
Democrats soon seized on the incident, DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse tweeting, "You can walk out of an interview if you don't like a press question? This is a game changer -- way to be a leader Congressman Paul Ryan. "
Both vice presidential candidates are off the stump today. Ryan is in Virginia being drilled before his date with Biden at Centre College in Danville, Ky., Thursday night. The vice president is sharpening his steel in Delaware, his home state.
"Last Wednesday night, in a debate watched by nearly 70 million people, America and the world got to see the Mitt Romney I've known for most of my life," she begins, an opening bid to solidify the positive impressions her husband made last week during his first one-on-one with Obama.
"Mitt has always been my hero," she writes. "There have been times in my life when I didn't think I could make it, when I wasn't sure I could take one more step. And in those times, when I couldn't do it on my own, Mitt was always there for me to lean on."