House Budget Committee ranking member and long-time Paul Ryan congressional sparring partner Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., will play the role of the newly announced Romney running mate in debate prep with Vice President Joe Biden, multiple news outlets have confirmed.
Sources close to the campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama have confirmed the Karachi-born congressman will provide a stand-in for Ryan during preparations for the single vice presidential debate.
Van Hollen, elected to the House in Maryland's 8th district in 2003, has acted as the prime opponent to Ryan during the past few years' intense congressional budget debates. As the ranking member in the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs, Van Hollen is intimate not only with Ryan's unique views on budget cuts, he is also deeply knowledgeable about the U.S. economic woes writ large.
In 2011, he was chosen to be one of the 12 congressman on the ultimately unsuccessful "supercommittee." A skilled debater, he is also well-versed on foreign affairs, having been born overseas to an ambassador father and a intelligence bureau chief mother.
On Thursday, Van Hollen told reporters that Ryan will look like a flip-flopper for falling in line with Romney's plan to restore $716 billion in cuts to the Medicare trust fund.
Ryan's controversial budget proposals have included keeping Obama's Medicare reductions.
"It's been kind of sad to see Congressman Ryan forced to flip flop on this issue by Gov. Romney," Van Hollen said Thursday. "It's a reckless plan, and we can't afford to take the guarantee out of Medicare for seniors."
Ryan is known to be a skilled and passionate debater, speaking at ease and already rousing Romney supporters in a way the former Massachusetts governor has been unable to do. Although also known as a natural debater during his days in the Senate, VP Joe Biden will need a good sparring partner to shake off the cobwebs of four years off the Senate floor.
Several media outlets have also confirmed Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., will play the part of Romney during Obama debate prep. There is no word yet who will sub in for Obama and Biden during the Romney camps prep.
The vice presidential debate is slated to take place on Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky. ABC News senior foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz will moderate.
by RTT Staff Writer
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