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In light of the results of the first debate, how important is the vice presidential debate?
October 9th, 2012
03:50 PM ET

In light of the results of the first debate, how important is the vice presidential debate?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The stakes couldn't be higher for Thursday's vice presidential debate.

After the debacle that was President Obama's performance at the first debate last week, expect interest to be especially high when Joe Biden and Paul Ryan face off in Kentucky for their only debate.

At this point, in the face of plummeting poll numbers for the president, the Obama campaign must rely on Joe Biden to turn this thing around. Good luck with that.

Look for Biden to come out swinging, hitting hard on issues like Romney's "47%" comment, Ryan's controversial budget plan and his proposal to change Social Security.

As one Republican adviser tells Politico, Biden will bring his "proverbial nunchucks and brass knuckles" to the debate.

Of course, this has got to leave a lot of nervous Democrats, because with Joe Biden, you never know what you're going to get. While Biden is a seasoned debater who connects well with voters, he also tends to say dumb things from time to time. Just a couple of months ago, the White House had to sweep up after Biden after he told a largely black audience in Virginia that Republicans "would put y'all back in chains."

Ryan will no doubt ask Biden about foreign policy, including the murder of an American ambassador in Benghazi, more than 40 months of 8%-plus unemployment, a $16 trillion deficit, no federal budget for the last three years and so on.

There's also the risk that in trying to make up for Obama's weak debate, Biden comes across as too aggressive.

As for Ryan, he says the pressure is on him after Romney's strong showing last week. Ryan says he expects Biden to launch at him "like a cannon ball," describing Biden as a gifted, extremely experienced and proven debater. Really?

This is must-see TV Thursday night.

Here’s my question to you: In light of the results of the first debate, how important is the vice presidential debate?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Who ranks higher on the charisma scale, Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan?
August 14th, 2012
01:04 PM ET

Who ranks higher on the charisma scale, Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

They looked like two peas in a pod.

When Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate Saturday morning, some people thought they were seeing double.

Writing for the Daily Beast, Robin Givhan suggests Ryan could easily be mistaken for one of Romney's five sons.

She says that the Republican running mates - in their matching white shirts and black pants - lacked dazzle or texture.

She describes them as "two white guys defined by political expedience, professional uniforms and perfectly pomaded hair."

And it's not just their appearances that are similar.

Politico suggests Ryan could just be "Mitt squared." The writers say it's easy to see why Romney - the 65-year-old "numbers nerd" - wanted Ryan - the 42-year-old "budget wonk" - on the ticket with him.

Like Romney, Ryan isn't the most exciting speaker. It's possible Romney was looking more for a youthful double of himself than for someone to balance the ticket.

Speaking of doubles, consider these two back in high school.

In his Janesville, Wisconsin, high school, Ryan was voted "biggest brown noser" by his senior year classmates.

He was also the prom king and junior class president, not to mention an athlete and in the Latin club - a pretty well-rounded guy.

As for Romney, he attended a boys' prep school in Michigan, the state where his father was governor.

According to one classmate, Romney was in the glee club and the pep club and was chairman of the homecoming committee.

What he didn't do was play middle linebacker on the football team.

Here's my question to you: Who ranks higher on the charisma scale, Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: 2012 Election • Cafferty File • Jack Cafferty • Mitt Romney • Paul Ryan
How much will Paul Ryan help Mitt Romney's chances of winning?
August 13th, 2012
01:55 PM ET

How much will Paul Ryan help Mitt Romney's chances of winning?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Mitt Romney went "bold"... doing what many conservatives wanted him to do in naming Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Many view the Ryan pick as a game-changing one, with both Republicans and Democrats cheering Romney's choice.

But it's yet to be seen if Ryan will make voters more - or less - likely to vote for Romney.

Ryan's weaknesses are pretty evident. His budget plan of drastic spending cuts includes significant changes to Social Security and Medicare. Try selling that to elderly voters in Florida.

It also gives Democrats ammunition to play on those same voters' fears, that the social programs they rely on could be threatened.

Plus, Ryan has virtually no experience in the private sector - just like President Obama. He has spent almost 14 years in Congress - a career politician at a time when America is sick of Washington.

But - Romney's selection of Ryan also carries plenty of benefits.

For starters, while voters are sick of Washington insiders, they tend to reward politicians who push for real change... see Barack Obama in 2008 or New Jersey's Chris Christie.

For Americans who grasp the critical nature of our skyrocketing national debt... now nearing $16 trillion... Ryan has a lot of appeal.

And if Mitt Romney is willing to embrace even some of Ryan's ideas... Pres. Obama won't be able to touch the GOP on government spending and deficits.

Ryan is also a clear plus for the party's base, many of whom have never really liked Romney. He appeals to crucial independent voters, Catholics and women too.

Most importantly, the choice of Ryan signals a clear choice for voters in November. More government versus less government. Runaway national debt versus painful fiscal responsibility. Ryan is a big gamble for Mitt Romney - but it's a bet he almost had to make.

Here's my question to you: How much will Paul Ryan help Mitt Romney's chances of winning?

Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.