WASHINGTON -- With the first presidential debate slated for Wednesday night, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took part in an age-old political game on Sunday, trying to set as low a bar as possible for his running mate’s debate performance.
“I don’t think one event is going to make or break this campaign,” Ryan told Chris Wallace in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
Ryan argued that Obama is a gifted orator with deep debate experience, while Romney is wading onto the general-election debate floor for the first time.
“Look, President Obama is a very gifted speaker,” Ryan said. “The man has been on the national stage for many years. He’s an experienced debater, he’s done these kinds of debates before. This is Mitt’s first time on this kind of a stage."
As Wallace noted, Romney took part in roughly two dozen debates to make it this far in the campaign.
Lowering expectations for a debate is nothing new in politics. But with the Romney campaign trailing in the polls in key swing states, some Republicans have said that a solid performance by Romney -- perhaps even a definitive win -- is necessary for the campaign to keep any momentum.
Ryan said Romney’s primary job on Wednesday is framing the choice at stake in the election for American voters.
“I think what people are going to see is, who is Mitt Romney, what kind of a president is he going to be, and what are the choices I have,” Ryan said. “That to me is what matters in this particular debate and all debates … which is, ‘I know what this president has done, all the empty promises … What [are] Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan offering to get us back on track?’ If we get that out of Wednesday, then the country understands the choice they have to make.”