Danville, Kentucky (CNN) - Senior Democrats are predicting a scrappy competitive debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan when they meet onstage in Kentucky Thursday. But both men are collegial people so don't expect a fight club atmosphere.
With polls tightening and new pressure to energize Democrats after last week's presidential debate, Biden has been off the campaign trail for six days hunkered down in debate prep since the weekend.
Tune to CNN for Thursday's vice presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, CNN.com and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
He's been working out of the same hotel in Wilmington, Delaware that housed his 2008 prep. Each day since Sunday he held a full 90 minute mock debate plus additional work sessions, all run by debate expert and former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain. The vice president's current chief of staff, Bruce Reed, was also present.
Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen played the role of Paul Ryan; he knows Ryan from their work together on the House Budget Committee. Biden communications director Shaliagh Murray played the role of moderator Martha Raddatz, according to senior Democratic officials.
READ MORE: CNN OBTAINS EXCLUSIVE PHOTO OF BIDEN'S DEBATE PREP
Former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, several members of the Biden family and other aides were also on hand. Biden, who served in Congress for over three decades, prepared to cover topics from Supreme Court cases to varying aspects of domestic and foreign policy, according to sources.
Members of the president's debate prep team joined the group in Delaware, including senior advisers David Axelrod, David Plouffe and communications guru Anita Dunn. But they were gone on Wednesday and turned up at the White House, along with Ron Klain, presumably to continue the president's preparations for his debate Tuesday.
In an interview with ABC News Wednesday, President Obama said of tonight's debate, "Joe just needs to be Joe".
Within the Obama team the vice president is seen as an effective communicator, skilled at making an emotional connection with voters, but unpredictable because of his tendency to commit newsmaking gaffes.
CNN polling shows 55% of voters expect Ryan to win the debate and some in the Democratic camp believe these low expectations work to the vice president's advantage.
Privately, senior Democrats tell CNN they believe while a strong showing by the vice president can help the ticket, it won't erase the problems created by the president's low energy showing at the last debate.
Among Biden's goals heading into Thursday's face-off with Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan are to sell the Democratic ticket's policies in a clear way and translate wonk-talk into real life terms that have meaning for voters.
It's also clear from the Democrats' messaging ahead of the debate, he is likely to try to draw out Ryan on the differences between his own budget proposal and Romney's plan for a second term, press Ryan to get into specifics on proposed changes to Medicare, and - in the wake of Romney's newsmaking comments on abortion - perhaps press him on social issues and the differences between his own views and the top of the ticket.
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
Biden's best hope is to claim he has laryngitis, and not show up. He may at least get the sympathy vote. Other than that, Ryan will own this debate.
Vote for Democrates to save the World and USA. But Obama and Biden has to change their budget and foreign policies as well as the people in the chairs. Good luck, Democrates
I"n an interview with ABC News Wednesday, President Obama said of tonight's debate, "Joe just needs to be Joe"."
Right – he does not need to be intelligent, knowledgable, or ready to be president at a moment's notice – he just needs to be Joe, next to whom even Obama looks qualified.
Something you "compassionate" (not) conservatives are all for, Ntrain2k.
Tonight should be HILARIOUS. Grab the popcorn.
Biden is a trash mouth and loose cannon. He may go down hard. He may have dementia or just drinks too much.
Yeah, maybe Obama failed to turn our destroyed economy around in his first term. However, Obama/Biden have good intentions, which is one thing I cannot say about Romney/Ryan. All they want is power so that they can make the rich even richer.
I vote OBAMA 2012!!!
Tomorrows headline will read " Biden was crappy not scrappy"
If Romney gets aggressive in a debate, he is called pushy and arrogant. If Biden gets aggressive in a debate, he is called "scrappy". typical.
It would be nice if they Biden spent more time focusing on the policies the Obama Administration has enacted (and plan to enact) and exactly how those policies have (or will) benefit the vast majority of Americans. Instead, he's preparing to defeat a guy in a match of zingers, one liners, political rhertoric. It's not just Biden, it is all politicians and it's symbolic of our media driven sound bite loving appetitite for summing up political elections.
The determining factor should neither be who can be more persistent or forceful with their deception, nor should it be based on who spends the most money to put their propaganda over; if either of these are the determining factor, then the people will definitely be the looser. It really should be about the truth and in truth who actually presents real concern for the people, not just for show while they pursue their own agenda camouflaged by aggressive rhetoric to hide their actual priorities and loyalties. I really believe that if the voters can check their biases, fears, prejudices, emotions and blind loyalties in order to avoid being conned and manipulated and just objectively and rationally evaluate what the truth really is, then Obama will get their votes. That isn’t just based on his more apparent honesty and real concern for the majority but also that in this type of evaluation the Republican’s dishonesty and real focus on serving only the 1% while seeking to deceive, use and abuse the 99% should become totally apparent. If the voters fail to do this, then we may just be returned to “more of the same”, Bush-Cheney style, with the results then necessarily being “more of the same” in pushing this country further into being a two-class society by continuing to feed the 1%’s insatiable “more” (never enough) appetite while the 99% consistently looses more.
Scrappy? There's a euphemism.
It has been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions
Release the Biden! Haha.
I seem to remember someone predicting Obama would clean the floor with Romney. Ok, so now Biden will.....
So is Biden going to show up in a Big Bird costume tonight? After all, that is the Dem platform.
The best they can hope for is for Joe to be "competitive"! Joe has NO chance! Bwahahahaha!!!!!
Yeah, maybe Obama failed to turn our destroyed economy around in his first term. However, Obama/Biden have good intentions, which is one thing I cannot say about Romney/Ryan. All they want is power so that they can make the rich even richer....
The streets of Hell are paved with "good intentions".
Everything being said about Joe Biden was exactly what was said about Romney.