Vice-presidential debates tonight . . . (*with schedule of remaining presidential, Senate and governor debates*)

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Debate schedule
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WASHINGTON — The presidential and vice-presidential debates are broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC and on cable TV channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC:

■ TONIGHT (Thursday, Oct. 11), 
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. — Vice-presidential debate, Centre College, Danville, Ky.

Topic: Foreign and domestic policy.

Moderator: Martha Raddatz, senior foreign affairs correspondent, ABC News.

■ Tuesday, Oct. 16,
 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. — Presidential debate, Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.

Town meeting format, questions from the audience about domestic and foreign policy issues.

Moderator: Candy Crowley, chief political correspondent, CNN.

■ Monday, Oct. 22, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. — Presidential debate, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.

Topic: Foreign policy.

Moderator: Bob Schieffer, host of “Face the Nation,” CBS News.


■ TONIGHT (Thursday, Oct. 11), 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. — Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna will debate in Seattle. It will be aired on all of Seattle's network TV affiliates.

■ Tuesday, Oct. 16, 
8 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Inslee and McKenna debate on KING-TV channel 5.


KCTS-9 public television will produce and broadcast the first debate between incumbent U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, and Republican challenger state Sen. Michael Baumgartner in Seattle this Friday (Oct. 12).

The debate will be taped at the KCTS-9 studio in front of a studio audience and will be televised at 7 p.m. Friday on KCTS-9.

It also will be broadcast to all public radio affiliates statewide.

This is the first debate the candidates have agreed to and so far is the only debate scheduled by the candidates.

KCTS-9's award-winning broadcast journalist Enrique Cerna and Washington League of Women Voter's Co-President Kim Abel will co-moderate the debate.

Viewers may submit questions for the candidates to

For more election coverage, visit
(SEE SCHEDULE for remaining debates in fact box at right)

TWO ARTICLES on preparations by Joe Biden and Paul Ryan for tonight's debate:

Ryan prepares to take on skilled debater Biden


To prepare for his biggest test yet on the national stage, untested debater Paul Ryan has been hauling two thick briefing books around the country and intently studying up on Vice President Joe Biden, who has been sparring over public policy since the Wisconsin congressman was learning how to talk.

Ryan, the 42-year-old Republican vice presidential nominee, has suggested his youth will be an asset in connecting with voters at the sole vice presidential debate tonight in Kentucky against the 69-year-old former senator.

But risks abound for the GOP rising star, who hasn't participated in a campaign debate since his first run for office 14 years ago.

The main goal for Ryan's inner-circle: get him comfortable answering questions in broad terms that connect with voters and avoid the wonky, in-the-weeds answers more appropriate for a budget hearing than a living room.

Ryan's team wants to keep him talking about positive changes a Romney-Ryan administration would mean for the country, not a full-throated defense of the campaign's sometimes nebulous math.

As the House Republicans' top budget writer, aides say Ryan is confident he can handle questions about federal spending and taxes. He is a bit more nervous on international affairs - and for good reason. Ryan was thrust into the national spotlight a few months ago when he joined the Republican ticket but has limited exposure in that arena.

Biden is a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a skilled debater, both within the administration and against its critics, and someone whose opinion President Barack Obama seeks out on major decisions.

Ryan also is bracing for Biden to try to help Obama overcome a rough patch by staking out an aggressive tone.

"I really think that because they had such a bad debate that Joe is just going to come flying at us," Ryan said this week.

His biggest worry: looking unprepared the way his mentor and former boss, Jack Kemp, did in the 1996 debate against Vice President Al Gore.

Ryan has spent hours huddling with advisers to polish his delivery and has been cramming with aides to sharpen his grasp of foreign policy and national security issues. As they prepared in Virginia's mountains about 150 miles from Washington, Ryan focused on trying to shoehorn knowledge gained from seven terms in the House into two-minute answers. He has watched video of Biden's 2008 vice presidential debate and recent campaign appearances. He knows Biden's cadences and verbal ticks, including the signature "ladies and gentlemen" and punchy "folks" to get the audience's attention.

Ryan also has spent time working on trying to keep Biden from cutting him off, talking over him or throwing a wrench into his rehearsed answers. During practice debates, his stand-in for Biden, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, has been aggressive in trying to throw Ryan off his game.

Above all else, aides tell Ryan to avoid specific numbers.

"He's learning how to debate," said Michael Steel, Ryan's traveling spokesman who was a top aide to House Speaker John Boehner. "It's not about learning policy. ... It's about learning how to debate at this level."

Ryan and his aides also are trying to play up the vice president's skills and perhaps set unrealistic expectations for Biden, who is doing his own cram sessions in Delaware before the meeting in Danville, Ky.

"Joe Biden's been doing this for 40 years," Ryan told WTMJ-AM radio in Milwaukee. "I mean, the man ran for president twice, he's the sitting vice president. And this is my first time on this kind of stage. So sure, there's a lot of pressure."

He later seemed to suggest that his youth gave him the upper hand.

"I've been in Congress 14 years. I'm a younger person. I'm next generation," he told WTOL in Toledo, Ohio. "I'm in my 40s. Joe Biden is in his 60s. I'm used to debating people in Joe's generation in Congress."

Ryan aides note that more people watched Biden's 2008 debate against then-Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential nominee, than any of Obama's debates against Republican John McCain. But that was as much about Palin's celebrity and curiosity about her and not the weight of the vice presidents' roles.

This time, Republicans have nominated a wonk who is a walking collection of think tank studies - not a first-term governor from Alaska like Palin.

Ryan and Olson practiced three times before heading into more intense sessions in the Virginia mountains. They wore suits and ties and dined on room service in Washington hotels for two sessions, then donned plaid shirts and ate Jimmy Johns sandwiches at the other session in Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wis.

In Virginia, they simulated the debate setting, in which Biden and Ryan will be seated.

Kerry Healey, who was Romney's lieutenant when he was governor of Massachusetts and now advises him on foreign policy, stood in for debate moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News and even channeled the newswoman's speaking style.

Ryan has tried to keep the number of advisers in the room with him to fewer than 10. From time to time, Romney aides from the Boston campaign headquarters joined the preparations, including strategist Russ Schriefer, longtime loyalist Beth Myers and conservative liaison Peter Flaherty. Foreign policy hand Dan Senor also has been helping Ryan.

Ryan hasn't debated since his first run for Congress - in 1998 at age 28.


Biden to play 'hardball' in VP debate

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

Now, as he prepares to debate Paul Ryan tonight, a 14-year House veteran and the top Republican budget writer, Biden is less concerned about looking like a bully.

''I think he is going to play hardball,'' said former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who played Palin in debate preparations in 2008 but is not involved this year.

''He won't have to worry about pulling punches. He can go after policy and raise issues with a number of deliberate deceptions the other side has put forth.''

Vice presidential debates typically don't matter as much as presidential face-offs, but both parties say the stakes in tonight's clash in Kentucky are higher because of President Barack Obama's lackluster showing in last week's presidential debate.

A strong performance lifted Republican Mitt Romney, helping him cut into Obama's lead in key battleground states.

Officials in both parties anticipate that Vice President Biden will be notably more aggressive than Obama, repeatedly taking the fight to Ryan as Democrats try to regain their footing in the closely fought election.

The 42-year-old congressman must overcome a lack of foreign policy expertise and experience in national debates, although Democrats praise his encyclopedic grasp of budget details and ability to think on his feet.

''Paul Ryan is an inside Washington guy, smart and wonky. He knows the budget better than anybody,'' said Granholm.

'Like a cannonball'

Ryan, who has never before debated at the national level, must prove that he is potential presidential material — while also defending the numbers that Romney put forth last week, especially on tax cuts.

Ryan said that he believes Biden will be an aggressive opponent.

"I expect the vice president to come at me like a cannonball," Ryan told the conservative Weekly Standard last week. "He'll be in full attack mode, and I don't think he'll let any inconvenient facts get in his way."

Biden, in an intensive "debate camp" last week in Wilmington, Del., engaged in mock debates with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who is playing the role of Ryan in the vice president's practice sessions.

Ryan on Friday wrapped up a three-day debate camp in southwest Virginia; prior to that, he had held three mock debates with former U.S. solicitor general Ted Olson, who is playing the role of Biden.

The candidates are not only scrutinizing each other's past speeches and issue positions but also their recent appearances.

After Biden's blistering critique of the GOP ticket in Iowa, Ryan studied a transcript of the event. Biden's preparation also has included reviewing video of Ryan interviews and speeches.

Biden, 69, has participated in numerous debates, both as a presidential and vice presidential candidate, and has tended to be more disciplined in those matchups than on the stump. He has run for president twice and served in the Senate for 36 years.

Ryan is 42, has served in the House for 14 years and will make his first appearance on the national debate stage tonight in Danville, Ky.

Both sides sought to downplay the importance of that gap ahead of the debate. Democrats noted that Biden succeeded in navigating it four years ago, while Republicans pointed out that Ryan has served on the Hill for seven terms.

"Congressman Ryan and Sen. Biden were colleagues on Capitol Hill for many years," said one Romney aide. "I know Congressman Ryan considers the vice president a friend."

Romney's proposals

Biden is likely to press Ryan to defend Romney's proposals on taxes, Medicare and spending — and seize any opportunity to tie Romney to a House Republican budget written by Ryan. Democrats say the GOP budget contains severe spending cuts unacceptable to most voters.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, where Ryan is chairman, said his colleague ''has a fundamental choice to make'' in the debate.

''He can either come clean about the negative consequences of the Romney-Ryan budget and tax plan, or he can continue to hide the ball like Mitt Romney did the other night,'' said Van Hollen, who is playing Ryan in debate preparations.

An effective performance by Biden, a former senator who essentially made a career out of debating colleagues, could help quell nervousness among some Democrats, although neither party expects undecided voters to be swayed by the vice presidential duel.

A skilled retail politician, Biden is known for going off script. Last week, he said the middle class had been ''buried'' during the last four years, a remark Republicans turned into an attack on Obama.

Democrats say Biden brings an authenticity that voters relish.

''If you want someone who gets middle-class America and gets family in America, Joe Biden is absolutely the best person you can find,'' said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who holds the Senate seat Biden held for more than three decades.

A foreign policy expert, Biden also is helped by his close relationship with Obama. Biden often is one of the last people Obama consults on major decisions.

Republicans have spent the last few days raising expectations about Biden.

Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, who regularly ridicules Biden as a gaffe-prone campaigner, changed his tune over the weekend, telling CNN the vice president will be a formidable opponent for Ryan.

''I think people realize that Joe Biden is a gifted orator. He is very good at rhetoric, and I think he is very relatable so I think it's two different people, and I think it's going to be a great night,'' Priebus said.

Biden said he is looking forward to the debate.

''All debates are tough,'' he told reporters in Iowa, the day after the Oct. 3 presidential debate in Denver. ''You can sit there and say I would have done that, I would have done this. Well, nothing like standing up before 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 million people.''

Biden said he has been ''studying up'' on Ryan's positions to prepare. ''I just want to make sure that when I say these things that I don't have the congressman say 'No, no, no, I don't have that position,' '' Biden said.

''We have a fundamentally different view on a whole range of issues,'' he said.

Last modified: October 10. 2012 11:27PM
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