US Vice Presidential Candidates to Meet in Pivotal Debate

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Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan plan to debate Thursday in Kentucky.

The 2012 U.S. presidential campaign reaches another pivotal moment Thursday when Vice President Joe Biden and his Republican challenger, Representative Paul Ryan, meet in their only scheduled debate.

Ryan, a 42-year-old congressman from the midwestern state of Wisconsin, is considered a rising star among conservative Republicans for his ideas to cut the federal deficit and revamp Medicare, the federal government’s health insurance program for elderly Americans.  But he has far less experience on the national stage than Biden, having served in Congress for just 14 years.


Meanwhile, the presidential contenders will be on the campaign trail Thursday.  Obama will hold a rally in (the southeastern state of) Florida, while Romney will spend another day campaigning in Ohio before traveling to Virginia.  Those three states hold a combined 60 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the November 6 election.

The Des Moines Register newspaper in (the midwestern state of) Iowa, another crucial swing state in the November election, published an interview Wednesday with Romney in which he declared he would not pursue any legislation aimed at restricting or outlawing abortion if he were elected.

The Obama campaign accused Romney of contradicting his previous anti-abortion stance.  But speaking to reporters in Ohio, Romney insisted that he is a “pro-life candidate” and would be “a pro-life president.”

Vice President Joe Biden

-tapped as then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s running mate in August 2008
-ran for president in the elections of 1988 and 2008
-served six terms as Delaware senator
-served as chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee
-perhaps best known for work as chairman of Foreign Relations Committee
-worked as lawyer and New Castle County, Delaware councilman before running for Senate.
-earned law degree from Syracuse University
-69-year-old married father of three; first wife and a daughter died in 1972 car accident

The nationally televised event at a small college in the south-central state of Kentucky comes as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is gaining momentum in voter opinion polls after his strong performance in last week’s debate against the Democratic incumbent, President Barack Obama.

The 69-year-old Biden is widely regarded as an experienced debater and skilled politician, based on his 36 years in the Senate before becoming vice president in 2009.  He is expected to help the campaign overcome Obama’s lackluster debate performance.  But Biden is also known for making occasional embarrassing gaffes, or misstatements, due to his exuberant nature.

Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan

-tapped as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate in August 2012
-serving 7th term as Wisconsin congressman
-chairman of House Budget Committee
-perhaps best known for 2010 “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a deficit-cutting proposal
-worked as congressional aide before running for Congress
-earned a degree in economics and political science from Miami University in Ohio
-42-year-old married father of three


 Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.