Will Biden-Ryan debate be a ‘Catholic smackdown’?
When Joe Biden and Paul Ryan face off in the vice-presidential debate on Thursday night (Oct. 11), it will mark the first showdown of its kind between the first Catholics ever to oppose each other on the major party tickets.
A “Catholic Thrilla in Manila” as a Washington Post headline put it, recalling the famous 1975 Ali-Frazier heavyweight bout in the Philippines. Store window signs in the host city of Danville, Ky., prefer the “Thrill in the Ville.”
Whatever it is called, expectations among Catholics are as high as the stakes for both campaigns.
Joseph Cella, who leads Catholic outreach for the Romney-Ryan campaign in Michigan, where the GOP ticket has nearly closed a 10-point gap, said the campaign is organizing debate-watching parties nationwide.
“I don¹t see how Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan could avoid discussing principles of importance to Catholics,” said Cella, a veteran conservative activist.
“I don¹t think their faith will dominate the debate, but it will be an important component, and will offer sharp illustrations of the differences between the Obama administration and Gov. Romney.”
Still, while both Ryan and Biden speak proudly and often about their Catholic faith, and are quick to explain how it informs their policy positions, it’s not clear either will try to use those religious bona fides to gain an advantage. [more]