San Ramon, California (CNN) – With the vice presidential debate five weeks away, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan will hold his first all-day prep session this weekend, campaign aides say.
The Wisconsin lawmaker will convene with aides in Oregon on Sunday, which has been described to reporters as the first of many sessions where they will discuss likely debate topics and counterpoints.
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Two Mitt Romney campaign aides would not reveal who has been tapped to play the role of Joe Biden in upcoming mock debates, but given Biden's experience - a two-time presidential hopeful, U.S. senator for more than 30 years and now Barack Obama's vice president - they say they are not taking "the challenge lightly."
"You'd be hard-pressed to find someone in American political life today with more experience in national political debates than Vice President Biden," said one Romney aide who travels with Romney and asked not to be named.
In a recent interview with CNN, the House Budget Committee chairman expressed confidence in his ability to spar with Biden in the upcoming debate in Kentucky on October 11.
"He's good, but I've been in Congress 14 years and this is what we do, especially in the House. In the Senate they don't debate as often and as frequently," Ryan said during an August 30 interview on CNN's “The Situation Room.”
"That's all we do in the House is we debate. I love debating. It's one of the things I like about this job."
Ryan said he had been reading Biden speeches, "watching Joe Biden tape" and "studying on all of the various issues." Aides told reporters that Ryan watched the 2008 vice presidential debate between Biden and Sarah Palin when he was home in Janesville, Wisconsin, on September 2.
His aides, who spend just about every day on the road with him, suggested they are not concerned about how the young lawmaker will match up against the more experienced Biden.
An aide said of Ryan: "He knows a lot, and he knows a lot about a lot of things, so it's not so much a crash course on how to get smarter in a particular policy area as it is how to think about debating someone who is extremely experienced."
The Romney campaign thinks it has a "very informed legislator with a lot of experience dealing with a range of policy issues,” according to one aide who travels with the vice presidential hopeful. “Now you are about to be thrust into a debate with one of the most experienced debaters in American politics who's debated on this level with these high stakes many times. So it's more thinking about how to prepare for debating on these issues rather than just becoming an expert on these issues."
Ryan has been participating in policy briefings prior to Sunday to help prepare him for the only vice presidential debate, but now that the convention speech is behind him, an aide said he can now "focus quite intensively on debate prep."
Oregon was chosen as Sunday’s prep site because Ryan is on a West Coast campaign swing, with rallies and fund-raising events in Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington.
At some point the campaign will designate a series of days for debate prep, much like Romney did last week in Vermont.
After a rally Friday in Sparks, Nevada, Ryan spent a couple of hours in a hotel conference room meeting with staff and poring over briefing materials in huge white binders divided by issue areas.
The binders have become so cumbersome the campaign is considering using a backpack to accommodate the bulky binders instead of a briefcase-style bag Ryan typically carries.
Aides said despite the long workday this Sunday the plan is for the candidate to get one day off the trail to return to Janesville and spend the day with his family.
He may be thousands of miles away from home this weekend, but if he's lucky, he might get to watch a little football.
"We will give him a little bit of a break in the middle of the day to watch the Packers game – but not much," a Romney aide traveling with Ryan told reporters. "We are negotiating right now how much of it he gets to watch."