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October 11th, 2012
09:25 AM ET

Pressure is on for Biden, Ryan in debate – debate advisor Brett O’Donnell on what each candidate needs to do to win votes

Tonight, Vice President Joe Biden will face Republican rival Congressman Paul Ryan in the first and only vice presidential debate. It's now expected to be an integral moment in the race after President Obama gave a lackluster performance against Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate.

Veteran debate advisor Brett O’Donnell joins “Early Start” this morning to explain just how important this debate is for Biden.

O’Donnell, who has worked with Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in the past, says the pressure is really on Biden. “There’s a lot of downside and not much upside for him,” after Obama’s defeat last week, O'Donnell says. “Vice President Biden has to blunt that momentum and turn the narrative around.”

O’Donnell believes that Biden is capable of doing so. “I think he definitely has the passion to turn in a great performance,” he says. “He’s got the experience. The problem for him might be, you know, if he goes out and really attacks, it may even call attention to the president’s weakness last week, or it presents the opportunity for him to make a serious mistake.”

Ryan, on the other hand, needs to “make sure the debate stays about the president’s policies on the economy. And he also has to make sure the debate stays more about the Romney vision rather than the Ryan plan,” O’Donnell says. “I think he’s got to defend the Romney vision as opposed to defending the Ryan plan.”

“This election’s about jobs and the economy, and I think as long as Congressman Ryan focuses on that tonight, he’ll be able to litigate a debate he wants,” O’Donnell says. If Biden is able to put social issues like the ‘war on women’ back on the table, "then it might put Congressman Ryan on his heels.”

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