Thursday October 11, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Paul Ryan is preparing for his debate against Vice President Joe Biden, a seasoned lawmaker who has been sparring over public policy since the Wisconsin congressman was learning how to talk.

Aides say the Republican vice presidential nominee is confident he can handle questions about federal spending and taxes when he faces Biden in Kentucky on Thursday. On international affairs, though, Ryan is a bit more nervous.

Ryan typically is called on to explain his party’s domestic policy; Biden is a foreign policy heavyweight for Democrats.

Ryan’s biggest worry is looking unprepared to face Biden. He’s been practicing intensely with a handful of trusted advisers and studying from a pair of thick briefing books he’s been hauling around.

Four years ago, Biden was careful not to appear overly aggressive in the vice presidential debate with Sarah Palin, then a newcomer to the national stage.

But Biden is less concerned about coming across like a bully as he prepares to debate Ryan on Thursday.

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm says Vice President Biden will play "more hardball" against Ryan, a 14-year House veteran and the top Republican budget writer.

Vice presidential debates usually don’t matter as much as presidential face-offs. But both parties say the stakes for Thursday’s clash in Kentucky are higher because of President Barack Obama’s lackluster performance in his debate last week against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Romney’s performance helped him cut into Obama’s lead in key battleground states.

Editor’s note: The Reformer will have live, up-to-the-minute coverage of the debate tomorrow evening at www.reformer.com.