Image: Paul Ryan
Kevin E. Schmidt  /  AP
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan waves to the crowd with some of his children in tow, at the Clinton County courthouse in Clinton, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012.
NBC News
updated 10/9/2012 12:24:15 PM ET 2012-10-09T16:24:15

Four days before the vice presidential debate -- arguably one of the most important political moments of his life so far – Paul Ryan spent the day with his family preparing for Halloween.

Ryan, his wife Janna and their three children, Liza, Charlie and Sam, stopped at Apple Holler, a family farm in Sturtevant, Wis., to pick pumpkins – a Ryan family tradition.

The seven-term Wisconsin congressman noted that his family enjoys carving their pumpkins -- but likely wouldn’t do that until next week -- and said they "love" to scoop out the seeds and toast them.

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After Ryan hauled a wagon nearly 50 yards to the pumpkin patch, the family carefully selected four of the largest pumpkins they could find. The winning pumpkins weighed in at 49 pounds, 37 pounds, 35 pounds, and 34 pounds.

Two weeks ago in New London, N.H., Vice President Joe Biden visited a pumpkin patch where he bought a 36.75-pound pumpkin.

Asked about the upcoming Oct. 11th debate with the vice president, Ryan maintained a jovial spirit.

"What debate?" he joked. "Oh, yeah – I'd better get ready for that."

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Asked how his debate prep was going – he did just spend four days preparing in Virginia -- Ryan laughed: "You know I'd better get started. You just reminded me. No, it’s going well."

After the trip to the local farm, Ryan stopped at Tenuta's Deli here -- his favorite shop to buy spices for venison sausage. He wrapped up the long Sunday -- which he typically takes off to spend in Janesville with his family – speaking at the Annual Columbus Day Dinner hosted by the Italian American Society of Kenosha. He has missed the event only once during his time as a congressman.

"In 14 years – we were just reciting this – I missed this dinner once and it was because of our final Lamaze class in 2001. And my boss made me go to Lamaze," Ryan said at the dinner, referring to his wife.

Monday, the VP nominee will hold two events in Ohio and Michigan, which will likely be the last times Ryan will appear in public before the only vice presidential debate of the campaign cycle.

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Video: Panel revisits first presidential debate

  1. Closed captioning of: Panel revisits first presidential debate

    >> i want to advance this from the economy to the aftermath of the debate. the cover of the noe"the new yorker," mitt romney eastwooding, debating an empty chair. simple question. what happened? this couldn't have been the game plan for this president to go in and by all accounts underperform against a guy whose back was against the wall, who faced a make or break debate.

    >> look, david, it's not rocket science to believe that the president was disappointed in the expectations that he has for himself. but, look, i think part of that was because as i said earlier we met a new mitt romney . we met a mitt romney that wanted to walk away from the central theory of his economic plan, which is his tax cut . i don't have a tax cut that's $4.8 trillion. i'm not going to cut taxes on the rich. i don't have a medicare voucher plan. i love teachers. and i think we need more of them. look, don't believe me. speaker gingrich was pretty eloquent running during the primaries and saying, mitt romney will say absolutely anything to get elected. and if somebody says absolutely anything to get elected you have to wonder what they'll say when they are president of the united states .

    >> so, speaker, you did say he was fundamentally dishonest after debating him in the primaries. this is not a new attack against romney policy.

    >> no. and i think that the challenge for the obama people is pretty simple. the president of the united states had 90 minutes . now, if he had done his homework and actually prepared, if he had actually studied romney , why didn't he say it? why didn't he take romney head on? first of all, the charges on the tax cuts are plain wrong, and i think virtually every analyst has said and even your deputy campaign manager said the charges made are wrong. but forgetting that for a second, the job of the president is supposed to be to competent and stand up for what he believes in and articulate what's wrong. mitt romney walked over him. it's funny that the eastwood now -- just as mr. green paid for this microphone was one of ronald reagan 's breakthrough moments, the weird moment with clint eastwood may be that as well.

    >> the big knock against governor romney here is that he walked away from a $5 trillion tax cut plan. he assumes that tax cuts for growth to make the math work, simpson-bowles says his math doesn't add up. that something has to give. you explode the deficit, raise middle class tax cuts , something has to give which is the point that rob was trying to make.

    >> something has to give. and mike just said maybe the thing that gives is mortgage interest deduction . the single most important thing to middle class american families. and that's going to be -- and we'll get to this later -- that will be a challenge for paul ryan . but, you know, i think that what we are experiencing right now, and we just said it, is that this sort of style over substance is -- i don't think it's going to overtake this race. i think you had a president who was trying to move the facts out. was facing a guy who he hasn't seen before. either mitt romney is completely faking everything he said or he is a liar. so either way .

    >> when you say style over substance shouldn't matter, the truth is optics are important.

    >> ask richard nixon .

    >> well, i was going to go to that, because i do think in fairness it is fair for the american people to want to see their president fight for them. and the barack obama every day that they see on the campaign trail, the barack obama we saw in wisconsin the day after the debate, is a president who is fighting for them. and this president has to do that in those moments when there are millions of people watching


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