By NBC'S Sarah Blackwill
Tonight's debate pits a Gen-X'er vs. a Baby Boomer, 14-year member of Congress vs. a nearly four-decade veteran of Capitol Hill, a wonk vs. a recovering wonk, and - for the first time ever - Catholic vs. Catholic. Over more than 40 years in public life, Vice President Joe Biden has participated in more than 20 debates, from the 1987 forum which ended his first run for president, to the second most-watched debate ever, his 2008 faceoff with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Biden is a very capable debater who won most of the '08 primary debates with a combination of self-deprecating humor, passion and a command of policy. He doesn't look much like the gaffe-prone guy who Republicans love to hate. The big question - which Biden will show up tonight?
Then there's Congressman Paul Ryan. Playing the debate expectations game in an interview on Tuesday, Mitt Romney said, "This is I think Paul's first debate. I may be wrong. He may have done something in high school." In fact, according to his campaign, Ryan has faced off against congressional opponents at least 8 times since he first ran for Congress in 1998. And there are the “debates” of sorts that raised his national profile - jousting with the president at the 2010 House Republican retreat and the White House health care summit.
Before the two candidates sit down at Centre College tonight (yes, they'll be sitting), check out our Daily Rundown look back at some of those history lessons.