Biden vs. Ryan, and On to Wisconsin

After a friendly meeting in Danville, Kentucky, Vice President Joe Biden will fly to Rep. Paul Ryan’s backyard, perhaps to praise his debate opponent’s performance.

Or not.

For an indication of just how confrontational Biden will be when he faces Ryan in their Danville debate Thursday at 9 pm EDT, consider Biden’s post-debate sortie to Wisconsin. The Obama team is looking for contrast, places to sharpen differences between Joe from Scranton and the young House budget chairman from Wisconsin.

The Obama campaign hasn’t said where Biden will visit, but one city, Janesville, in Paul Ryan’s district already has become a metaphorical battleground.

Ryan has accused Obama of failing to stop the closure of the General Motors plant in Janesville, his birthplace, after promising to keep it open when he campaigned there in February 2008. The plant closed before Obama became president, and Democrats have seized upon Ryan’s charge, which he repeated at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, as an example of Ryan stretching the truth.

Wisconsin, home to 10 electoral votes, is also a state that Republicans have been trying to steal from the Democrats for the last two cycles. President George W. Bush lost the state to Senator John Kerry by a little more than 11,000 votes in 2004. Obama took it by 14 percent in 2008, with margin of more than 400,000 ballots.

It’s a state that Romney would need to capture if he’s going to find the magical 270 electoral votes without winning Ohio. In that sense, it’s a firewall state for Obama and Biden. Build and protect a lead in Wisconsin, and Obama could afford to lose Florida and Virginia.

Obama visited the state Sept. 23, as polls showed the president building a comfortable lead. Before the Oct. 3 presidential debate, a Sept. 27-30 survey from Marquette University gave Obama a 11 point lead.

While that lead has narrowed after the debate, Romney has not pulled ahead in the public polling like he has in Florida and Virginia.


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