Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan talk to each other on the phone almost every day, and the day of the first presidential debate was no exception. "I told him after the debate that he crushed it," Ryan told THE WEEKLY STANDARD in a phone interview Thursday night.
"Mitt reminded me of Ronald Reagan in the first presidential debate," Ryan said. "I told him how proud I was, how wonderful his performance was, how presidential he was, how I was excited that people got to know the man I know."
And what advice did Romney have for Ryan's upcoming debate with Vice President Joe Biden?
"He just said, 'They're going to come at you now, so get ready.'"
To prepare for the October 11 vice presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky, Ryan has been doing his homework and practicing debates with former solicitor general Ted Olson serving as a stand-in for Joe Biden. "I've watched his tapes, I've watched his speeches, like the one he gave today, and just looked at a lot of their issues, their positions," Ryan said.
The GOP vice presidential candidate is currently holed up at an undisclosed location in Virginia with Olson. Prior to this week, according to an aide, Ryan and Olson had done three debate sessions, two in Washington-area hotels and one in Janesville, Wisconsin. Ryan will have two more debate sessions under his belt by the end of the week.
While the Romney campaign isn't hiding the fact that Ryan has been working hard to prepare for the debate, Ryan does his best to manage expectations. "Joe Biden’s one of the most experienced debaters in American political life," he said. "I mean he’s run for president twice. He’s the vice president. He’s been on this big stage many times. This will be my first time."
“Everybody says he gaffes quite a bit, but not in debates. He’s very disciplined in debates. He’s also in the situation room and the Oval Office dealing with these issues every day," Ryan continued. "He’s got one very big weakness though. And that’s the president’s record. They can’t defend it, so they’re just going to attack us instead."
Ryan said he expects Obama's poor debate performance will encourage Biden to come at him with everything he's got.
“What was wrong with Obama? I don't know. It was really something," Ryan said. "President Obama was flustered. He has a terrible record to run on. It’s pretty indefensible as witnessed by the fact that he didn’t do a very good job of defending it last night."
“That means the focus is going to be on Joe," Ryan said, "and I expect the vice president to come at me like a cannonball. He’ll be in full attack mode, and I don’t think he’ll let any inconvenient facts get in his way."