Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan will square off tonight at 9:00 pm (Eastern time) live from the Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, in the one and only vice presidential debate of 2012.
The match up will be moderated by ABC News Chief Correspondent Martha Raddatz, which has ruffled some conservative feathers as President Obama attended her wedding back in 1991 (and some, like Donald Trump, see this as a conflict of interest). However, both the president and challenger Mitt Romney said they're OK with Raddatz hosting tonight's VP debate.
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Biden and Ryan will face off on both domestic and foreign policy. The topics will be divided into nine segments of approximately 10 minutes each, for a total of 90 minutes. Similarly to the first presidential debate, the moderator will ask an opening question after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will then use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the question.
But unlike the civil (and boring) match up between Obama and Romney, the Kentucky vice presidential debate promises to have some fireworks in display. For starters, vice presidential candidates are usually keener to take on the "attack dog" role than presidential ones (who need to appear "presidential" as opposed to confrontational).
Ryan seemed to be setting the pugilistic tone with a Time magazine spread that shows him lifting weights and exercising in clear reference to his supposedly athletic demeanor. Much has been said about the Wisconsin congressman's youth and vigor since Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked him as his running mate. The Google term "Paul Ryan Shirtless" remains the most searched, despite the Republican VP nominee's views on the budget, abortion and entitlements.
For Biden, the stakes have grown higher on the heels of Obama's poor performance during the first presidential debate. Though vice presidential debates are largely seen as not affecting the polls and the general state of the race, a good performance by the bottom of the Democratic ticket is expected tonight in order to stop (or, at least, slow down Mitt Romney's surge in the polls).
Though it is likely that there won't be a clear cut victor from tonight (expect liberal outlets to call it for Biden just as conservative ones will probably call it for Ryan), a Romney-style sweep by Ryan would further pressure Obama to come from behind and nail it during the upcoming town hall-style debate against Romney on October 16.