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COMPLETE WBEN COVERAGE: Analysis from Buff. State's Bruce Bryski, in studio with John Zach & Susan Rose on Buffalo's Early News | VIDEO Past Vice Presidential Debates | The Fun Factor for Junkies | Five Things To Watch For Tonight | Expectations & Hopes From The Top of the Ticket
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In Studio, In Depth
Buffalo State College's Prof. Bruce Bryski
"I think it's going to be fun, it may even be hillarious with the way Biden has a propensity to make gaffes,"
- Rus Thompson, TEA NY
"It is going to be fun to watch..(but) for those who love politics, they certainly understand the stakes."
- former Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello
Thursday's debate comes at a volatile moment in the election, putting the contrasting political skills of Biden and Ryan on display for millions of viewers less than four weeks before Election Day.
With time running short, Vice President Joe Biden faces the greater burden in his debate with Republican Paul Ryan as he seeks to use the election's only encounter between presidential running mates to slow Mitt Romney's momentum and reset the campaign storyline.
The vice presidential debate occurs as national polls show a tightening race, a new momentum for Romney and pressure on the Obama camp to halt any erosion of support. READ MORE
Related Story: Mitt Romney has emerged with a one-point edge over President Obama in Colorado and has cut the president's lead in half in Wisconsin, according to a new Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll
The 90-minute debate at Centre College, a liberal arts school with just 1,340 students in tiny Danville, is sure to draw a television audience of tens of millions.
But it's unlikely to eclipse the 70 million who tuned in to watch Biden face off with Republican firebrand Sarah Palin four years ago.
"Normally vice presidential debates are good political theater and sort of interesting from a talent scout standpoint, as you evaluate the up-and-comers on the political stage," says Alan Schroeder, author of a book on presidential debates. "But this year could be different because of the negative reviews of Obama's performance. That heightens expectations for this second debate."
Thursday's debate, moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News, will cover both foreign and domestic topics.
The debate is to be divided into nine 10-minute segments. At the outset, Raddatz will ask an opening question, and each candidate will have two minutes to respond.
Romney and Obama both predict strong performances by their No. 2s
"I think Paul Ryan will do great," Romney told supporters at a town hall meeting Wednesday in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
He said the debates offer people a rare chance to see the candidates directly, unfiltered by misleading and negative ads.
The GOP nominee said he'd seen some of the anti-Romney TV ads running in Ohio that morning, and added, "It's a good thing I don't do that very often because my blood pressure would be very high."
Ryan signaled he's ready for whatever Biden sends his way.
Obama, in a radio interview Wednesday with Tom Joyner, said he'd been "too polite" in his debate with Romney - a sure sign that Biden won't be going easy on Ryan. And that Obama won't make the same mistake in the next two presidential debates, on Tuesday in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.
"We've got four weeks left in the election, and we're going to take it to him," Obama said.
Later, in an interview with "ABC World News," Obama minimized the importance of his poor first debate performance, saying: "Gov. Romney had a good night. I had a bad night. It's not the first time I've had a bad night."
He added, "What's important is the fundamentals of what this race is about haven't changed."
The president, who had tried to lower expectations for his own performance ahead of last week's debate, predicted in his radio interview that Biden would be "terrific."