WASHINGTON -- Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen is staying mum on when he and Vice President Joe Biden plan to hold their mock debates in preparation for Biden's televised debate with Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Van Hollen, who will play Ryan in the prep debates, initially tried to run away when reporters asked where things stand. He briefly came back to say the practice sessions haven't started yet, though he said he has met with Biden once.
Van Hollen was a logical pick for Ryan's stand-in: he has known him for years and he serves as the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs. That didn't stop the Maryland Democrat from criticizing Ryan and Mitt Romney for the way they've run their campaign.
"I've been surprised and disappointed by the tone," he said, pointing specifically to Romney's criticisms of President Barack Obama right after the violent attacks in Libya. "I think that this latest effort to exploit a terrible tragedy overseas was reprehensible."
Van Hollen kept trying to leave, but he took a couple more questions. He laughed when asked to give his best impression of Ryan. He said he's got his lines down but still needs to work on "my gestures."
Asked who should play Biden in Ryan's prep debates, Van Hollen walked away laughing, saying only, "Not going there."
The vice presidential debate is set for Oct. 11.