The story about Paul Ryan's preparation for Thursday's debate reminds us of Jack Kemp's terrible vice presidential debate.
In late 1996, Ryan, then 26 years old, worked as a policy adviser for Jack Kemp, a former New York congressman and Bob Dole’s running mate. On the trail, Ryan guided Kemp as he prepared for his October debate with vice president Al Gore. The official prep sessions, however, were mostly a disaster. Kemp rarely practiced, and when he did, he lost his temper. At one mock debate, according to writer Robert Draper, Kemp “shot the bird” at Senator Judd Gregg, who was playing Gore, and stormed out of the room.
Once Kemp took the stage in St. Petersburg, Fla., he was hardly ready to challenge the Clinton-Gore record. He did not have an array of facts and figures memorized. Instead, he leaned on clunky anecdotes and platitudes. The entire exchange was tepid, and Kemp flopped, even in the eyes of his friends. “Within minutes it was apparent that Kemp was not prepared,” recalls Ed Gillespie, a Romney adviser, in his book Winning Right.
If Ryan needed a reminder about that, President Obama gave him an example last Wednesday.
In an extraordinary insight into the events leading up to the 90 minute showdown which changed the face of the election, a Democrat close to the Obama campaign today reveals that the President also did not take his debate preparation seriously, ignored the advice of senior aides and ignored one-liners that had been prepared to wound Romney.I liked Jack Kemp as a pick.
He didn't deliver in 1996.
I'm sure Paul Ryan will deliver in 2012.