Both vice presidential candidates could change course of campaign in debate

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Last week's presidential debate left many Republicans pleased, and Democrats disappointed.

Thursday night will be the one and only debate between vice presidential candidates Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden, and analysts believe their performances could make a difference in the campaigns -- at least for the next week.
University of Missouri-Kansas City political professor Max Skidmore points out that while this might be Ryan's first debate on the national stage, he has the experience to hold his ground.
"His former rivals have said 'Don't sell him short because he's really tough in a debate,'" Skidmore explained.
But he said don't count out Biden, either, describing the vice president as a strong communicator who has shown that he can connect to the crowd.
"Biden brings this blue-collar connection to working Americans that (President Barack) Obama has a little more difficulty with,"  Skidmore said.
Skidmore believes some questions will focus on Ryan's healthcare proposal and how it differs from Mitt Romney's. He also tells his students to look for the language each candidates chooses to use, facial expressions, body language and how well they connect to the audience as they watch the debate.
"Ryan has a reputation for being a policy wonk, overwhelming people with facts and figures. He comes across to me as someone like a second-grade teacher talking to a class,"  he said.
But he also points out Biden is known for gaffes, which could easily upset any ground he makes in the debate.
So Thursday night's performance of the number two candidates could change the course of the campaign. The latest NBC/Marist Poll shows that since last week's debate, Romney is narrowing the gap in two crucial swing states. Romney is now ahead in Virginia by one point. In Ohio, he is up two points, but still trails Obama by six.
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