When it comes to setting up the four national debates -- three for the presidential candidates; one for the vice presidential candidates -- there's quite a bit of behind-the-scenes negotiating to cover every possible details. Campaign officials go back and forth over everything from temperature in the hall to podium placement to whether the candidates should sit or stand.
But it appears Paul Ryan's representatives had a different kind of concern in mind.
When Paul Ryan and Joe Biden take the debate stage tonight in Danville, Ky., the form of address the vice president is supposed to use with his opponent is "mister" instead of "congressman," two sources confirmed to POLITICO.
The form of address is part of the detailed memorandum of understanding between the two camps, according to the sources familiar with the document.
The morning Mitt Romney introduced Ryan as his running mate, it seemed to open the Republican ticket up to an important vulnerability -- Ryan is a leading member of the least popular Congress since the dawn of modern polling. It seemed like a big risk for Romney, who'd boasted about being a Washington outsider untainted by the inside-the-Beltway mess, to partner up with a seven-term House member at a time when Congress' favorability rating is lower than BP's during the oil-spill crisis.
It turns out not to have made much of a difference, but that doesn't mean Ryan is eager to remind the nation he's spent nearly all of his adult life on Capitol Hill.
Of course, if I'm Vice President Biden, I'm not sure if I'd be able to resist the urge to call Ryan "congressman," over and over again, just to see what happens. What's the right-wing lawmaker going to do, leave the stage?
Update: Politico's report has been updated to say the moderator, Martha Raddatz, is supposed to call Ryan "mister," not "congressman," though Biden is apparently free to call him whatever he wants. The larger point -- Ryan seems a little embarrassed about where he works -- stands, but it's an important clarification.