1. ITV Report

Here come the VPs: Paul Ryan and Joe Biden go head-to-head

Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden Photo:

Politics today comes home to a city in Kentucky where in 1786 a Saturday evening political club started meeting to discuss the social, political and economic concerns of the time.

The presidential number twos meet later in Danville to talk about just the same subjects in the single vice presidential debate of this election year.

The Republican challenger Paul Ryan, a conservative from Wisconsin who was chosen by Mitt Romney for his popularity among the right of the party and his fiscal competence, has already arrived in the state and will be hoping to continue the impressive start made by his boss last week.

US Presidential candidate with his running mate Paul Ryan Credit: Reuters

He finds himself following in the footsteps of the most famous politician never to hold national office here, Sarah Palin, who four years ago faced the same opponent in a debate in which she was widely expected to flop.

Instead she marched, smiling, onto the stage and said to Joe Biden "Can I call you Joe?"

She was at her folksy best, and her failure to live down to expectations meant she looked like the winner.

US Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin speaks at a campaign rally in 2008. Credit: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Ryan has a tougher job on his hands, and needs to handle a vice president who will come out fighting.

Joe Biden has spent the last few days at home in Delaware, learning the lines and answers he will use tonight.

Vice President Joe Biden Credit: REUTERS

Known for his ability to talk at great length, Biden sometimes says things he quickly regrets, a tendency the Republicans hope he will demonstrate in the hall later.

If the moderator of the debate last week had problems keeping the candidates from keeping to their time limits, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Biden's role is to be the attack dog of the president, and that's just what he needs to be, setting the record straight for his party and his president in a way that the man in the White House so clearly failed to do last week.

Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The polls have been relentlessly depressing for the Democrats since Barack Obama's below par performance, and most now have the rival presidential candidates statistically neck and neck.

Two new polls this morning will give a snapshot of the voters in the swing states of Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin.

More bad news for the Democrats will heap pressure on Biden and the president.

Ten years before that first political discussion in a Danville club, the American revolution founded the United States.

The next 90 minutes of political debate there could play an important part in bringing fresh change to the direction of the country.