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Tonight the nation will be watching, as Vice President Joe Biden and Republican nominee Paul Ryan face-off at the vice presidential debate in Kentucky. 

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The debate will air at 9 p.m. (EST) from the Center College in Danville, and give both candidates the chance to help prove why either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney should be elected into office. 

This debate is important for a number of reasons. For one, the winner has the ability to spark momentum for their campaign and sway undecided voters. So the stakes are high!

Here’s a breakdown of what each candidate has at stake and their strengths and weaknesses.   

What they have at stake:

Biden: President Obama has taken a lot of heat after flopping at the first presidential debate last week in Denver. He lacked conviction, seemed disconnected and missed key opportunities to confront Mitt Romney about his track record on domestic issues. Obama made it easy for Mitt Romney to shine and as a result, his campaign gained a lot of momentum and he soared in the polls. 

At tonight’s debate, Biden will be challenged with the task of exciting the democratic base and helping Obama reach the momentum and poll numbers that he had pre-Denver. 

Ryan: Romney has been riding high and touting his win at the Denver debate that helped him gain favorability among likely voters. Ryan will be responsible for maintaining the status quo and basically, not dropping the ball.

   

Strengths:

Biden: At 69 years old, Biden has been working in the U.S. Senate since Ryan was in diapers, literally. His experience as a seasoned politician and solid debater gives him an upper hand over the fresh faced 42-year-old congressman who’s never debated on a national stage.   He also has a folksy speaking style and the ability to tell it “like it is,” which appeals to everyday people.

Ryan: On the contrary, Ryan is a smart guy that speaks with intensity and is a master of policy details. He possesses the impressive ability to convey a convincing argument using facts, numbers and data, especially when it comes to the federal budget and economy.   

Weaknesses:

Biden: Biden’s common vernacular and off-the-cuff comments have often landed him in hot water.  He’s been labeled as a “gaffe-machine” for all of his misspeaks. Tonight he can’t afford to have any crucial slip-ups.

Ryan: His analysis-driven speaking style can bore listeners and cause him to get lost in the numbers. His challenge comes in keeping the audience engaged without appearing too wonky.   

Both candidates have something to prove and a lot riding on the debate tonight. Biden must show that he can avoid any gaffes and Ryan must display that he is relatable to common people. 

Biden is also tasked with picking up the slack that Obama left from his lackluster debate performance, while Ryan must demonstrate that he can keep the ball rolling for his party.

Follow our twitter feed for live updates of the debate @GGPolitics tonight at 9 p.m.!

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