ABOARD THE RYAN PLANE — Paul Ryan has started preparing for his one debate with Joe Biden, his campaign revealed today, selecting prominent attorney Ted Olson to be his stand-in for the vice president.
Olson, the former Solicitor General and the man who argued Bush v. Gore before the high court on behalf of the 43rd president, has already held one session with Ryan in the past week.
“Joe Biden has been in elected office for more than 40 years," said Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck. "There are few people in politics with more experience debating the issues than Joe Biden, so we are taking this process seriously. Mr. Olson is one of the most skilled, intelligent, and successful litigators in America – just the kind of opponent needed to prepare the Congressman for Mr. Biden."
Olson is also well known for his work opposing California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state, a case in which he joined for Bush v. Gore opponent David Boies in arguing. Olson called his work on the case "the highlight of my life," The Washington Post reported
“This is the most important thing we’ve done in our lives," the paper reported he said at an event hosted by his law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. "It’s not just become a legal challenge, but it’s about the hearts and minds of a country changing.”
Olson also defended President Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal, and at one point represented convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
Olson's selection represents the only non-elected official to serve as a stand-in this cycle. President Barack Obama has selected John Kerry to play Mitt Romney, Romney has elected Rob Portman to play the president, and Biden has picked Chris Van Hollen to play Ryan.
"Ted Olson possesses the extraordinary intellect, judgment, and character to be a strategic asset in any endeavor," said former Attorney General John Ashcroft in a statement distributed by the Romney campaign. "Few lawyers have prevailed in as many of the country's most challenging battles to protect our national interest as Ted has. I, along with many other conservatives, welcome his increased participation in the Romney campaign."