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Romney Misstates Ryan's Debate Experience

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- Mitt Romney appeared on CNN Tuesday evening and said he didn’t know how Ryan “will deal with this debate,” trying to tamp down expectations for the only vice presidential debate Thursday and noting that Joe Biden is an “experienced debater.”

"I don’t know how Paul will take on the debate,” Ryan told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Obviously the vice president has done 15-20 debates in his lifetime—he is an experienced debater—I think this is Paul’s first debate. I may be wrong, he may have done something in high school we don’t know. But, it will be a new experience for Paul, but I am sure he will do fine. Frankly, he has policy, facts, and results on his side. So I think you find in the analysis people make the assessment on these debates not so much on the theatrics or smoothness of the presenter, but the policies and pathways being described.”

Ryan has actually participated in at least eight debates during his fourteen years in congress according to available articles and information provided by the Ryan campaign. An examination of them shows topics that have been raised during this campaign, from his vote for TARP to Medicare.

In Ryan’s first campaign in 1998, he debated his Democratic opponent and local politician Lydia Spottswood.

In 2000, Ryan debated Democratic challenger and surgeon from Janesville, Jeffrey Thomas. He also debated Thomas twice in 2002 and twice in 2004.

Ryan also faced Thomas in 2006, but did not debate him. However, according to a Racine Journal Sentinel article, Thomas and Ryan were “casual friends” and Ryan even returned to Wisconsin for Thomas’ 2009 funeral.

In 2008, Ryan debated Democratic challenger and businesswoman Marge Krupp .

In 2010, he took on Democrat John Heckenlively, former editor at Racine Labor, a labor paper, and a former social studies teacher.

Ryan’s  2012 challenger is Democrat and former chef and businessman from Kenosha Rob Zerban. Ryan is not going to debate Zerban this year and although there are no airworthy polls, ABC News rates the seat “safely Republican” for the GOP vice presidential nominee.

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