Ryan’s `Butterflies’ Raise Biden’s Bar

Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

Paul Ryan speaks during campaign rally on October 4, 2012 in Fishersville, Virginia.

On his way to Kentucky for a debate that could influence the outcome of a tightening race for the White House, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan sported a faint tan and big smiles today as he stopped for ice cream.

Ordering two generous scoops of moose tracks at the Old Farmer’s Creamery in St. Petersburg, Florida, the House Budget Committee chairman from Wisconsin said he was “excited” to take on Vice President Joe Biden and give voters a “clear choice” in the race.

“No butterflies?” reporters wanted to know.

“Look, Joe Biden’s been on this stage many times before. It’s my first time, so sure, it’s a nervous situation,” Ryan said. Calling the vice president “one of the most experienced debaters we have in modern politics,” Ryan added that his rival’s “Achilles Heel” is President Barack Obama’s record.

It wasn’t the time for discussing the specifics of policy, Ryan said, brushing aside a question about presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s comment yesterday to the Des Moines Register editorial board that legislation restricting abortion wasn’t part of his agenda. Ryan has backed such measures during his years in Congress.

“Our position’s unified, our position’s consistent and hasn’t changed,” Ryan said. Asked what it is, Ryan responded: “I’m sure you’ll find out at these debates.”

The 42-year-old has been spending most of his time lately reading briefing binders to prepare for the debate, and sparring opposite former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who is standing in for Biden in mock debates. Still the congressman — famously a devotee of the P90X and Insanity exercise regimens — said he managed to work some outdoors time into his debate preparations.

He went mountain-biking while cramming for the debate in Wintergreen, the central-Virginia resort where he spent much of last week. And in between rehearsals in St. Petersburg, he told a local reporter, “I finally got some sun and got outside.”

“You know in this life, I haven’t gotten a chance to spend much time outdoors,” Ryan said in an apparent reference to life on the presidential campaign trail. “I got a chance just to do some reading outside, which was very relaxing.”


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