Unlike four years ago, when he squared off against a largely untested Sarah Palin, the vice president is competing against a longtime congressman known for being a quick-minded policy expert.

From the moment he joined Barack Obama’s 2008 ticket as the No. 2 candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. has relished the dual roles of elder statesman and resident lunch-bucket American, the experienced Washington hand who has helped guide the young and cerebral Ivy Leaguers trying to run the country.

Now, the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) as the Republican vice presidential candidate presents a new set of challenges.
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