Martin Bashir | October 11, 2012
>>> in just a few hours. we know the strength of both fighters in tonight's debate. vice president joe biden has a strong command of the issues and an excellent jab, but his challenger, paul ryan , is just as adept at ducking the issues, moving quickly away from any of the callous commitments he's made in the past. but how will they address their potential weaknesses in tonight's debate? for that we turn to nbc news senior political corredrukter mark murray and professor michael eric dyson , an msnbc political analyst . welcome to both of you. mark, paul ryan does not have the name recognition of joe biden , and prior to tonight he appears to have only ever had one tough election battle, his first. so how difficult do you think it will be for him realistically tonight?
>> well, this is a stage eats never been on before, and so that is a challenge for paul ryan , but one thing going in his favor is that he does come across as very strong, resolute, and confident. and in debates like this, sometimes style matters just as much as the substance. so paul ryan has that going for him. that's something we'll probably end up seeing. as we end up seeing in that health care summit with president obama in 2010 that paul ryan can come across, make his argument very well, so that's something to watch for tonight.
>> indeed, professor dyson, ryan's policies are rather well-known. there's his budget cuts to medicare, 38 co-sponsored measures on abortion and his desire to privatize social security . so there's plenty to attack. where does joe biden start with paul ryan ?
>> he can't figure out the head or the tail. he's got to get some gut punches in, attack the body, and then ultimately the head. look, he's got to nail paul ryan , attach him to those policies even as paul ryan , using your pugilistic metaphor, attempts to slip the punches. joe biden has to continue to nail him. he has to say you are out here talking about vouchers for health care , you were out here talking about severe cuts to medicare, you were out here speaking with social security overhauling and you are the person who has been deeply and profoundly opposed to so-called obama care. he has to talk about that vicious budget. speak about his, if you will, redoing of the budget, but he's got to not allow him to do is makeover in the debate the same way that mr. romney did against president bush . he's got to call him on it in live time right there on the spot so that he can't associate himself with the new romney . he's got to associate mr. ryan with his budget recommendations and with the draconian measures that have been put forth in the past.
>> and that budget of course voted on only a few months ago. mark, what are the other main weaknesses you see starting with paul ryan and moving on to joe biden ?
>> i think his biggest challenge is expectations. you have been talking about that pew poll that shows more people thought that paul ryan is going to do better than joe biden . i watched joe biden four years ago in all the democratic primary debates. he did very, very well. i think going into this debate, joe biden has been underestimated. the guy will come off very, very well, and you end up having a republican base that has put so much energy into paul ryan , who wants him to succeed, and the expectations for his very first debate like this might be a very difficult for him.
>> indeed. professor dyson, we have just learned that mitt romney met with the reverend billy graham and his son. the campaign did not immediately offer comment on whether there was an endorsement. you can see a picture there, the campaign tweeted. the elder graham, of course, is well-respected by the nation, but his son, franklin, once questioned the president's christianity as well as whether mormonism is, in fact, christian or not. so this is somewhat problematic, isn't it?
>> the real religion in america is race. the whiteness of romney has obscured all concerns about his mormonis mormonism. the reality is president obama who shares the same faith as the grahams, as an evangelical in america, is denied legitimate access to the realm of, if you will, sacred space that now mitt romney has been admitted to which lets us know your politics are more important than your religion. all that blafter and bluster about paying obesance to god is wrong.
>> thank you, gentlemen. much more