David Frum

10.09.12

Debate Prep for the Pros

Another eye-opening tick-tock insider report by National Review Online's Robert Costa, this time on Paul Ryan's debate prep.

The mock debates — excluding the laid-back sessions in jeans in Ryan’s hometown — have purposefully been more formal. From the first mock debates in a Washington, D.C., hotel to the run-throughs at Wintergreen, Ryan and [Biden stand-in Ted] Olson have been seated at a conference-room table, just as they will be in Danville, Ky., under the bright lights. Ryan’s aides are hushed as Flaherty or Healey open the sessions, and the atmosphere, according to a Romney official, is “charged.” Olson has mastered Biden’s mannerisms, down to his long-windedness and hand gestures. Olson’s tactics echo those of Senator Rob Portman, who played the role of President Obama during Mitt Romney’s debate prep and pestered the former governor about his responses.