CLEARWATER, Fla. Attorney Ted Olson, who was solicitor general for President George W. Bush, is playing the part of Vice President Joe Biden in Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's debate preparation, the Romney campaign announced Saturday.
Olson has extensive experience both in and out of government. He served as the assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel for President Reagan, and acted as private counsel for both Reagan and George W. Bush. He has argued 58 cases before the Supreme Court, three quarters of which have been decided in his favor. His third wife, Barbara, was killed in the 9/11 attacks; she was a passenger on the plane that flew into the Pentagon.
Time Magazine named Olson one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010. His high profile cases have included the Bush v. Gore recount in 2000 and the 2009 lawsuit against Proposition 8, California's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Olson represented Bush in 2000 then partnered with his opposing counsel in that case, David Boies, to challenge the marriage ban.
While his unexpected involvement in the California case alienated some conservatives, others still speak highly of him. Former attorney general John Ashcroft, in a quote circulated by the campaign, said Olson would be "a strategic asset in any endeavor." He said he and many other conservatives "welcome his increased participation in the Romney campaign."
Olson has already participated in a debate preparation session with Ryan, the campaign said, but they would not disclose the location. Ryan spent his first full daylast Sunday in Oregon).
"Joe Biden has been in elected office for more than 40 years. 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," said Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck.
Olson is the last of the four debate rehearsal stand-ins for the presidential tickets to be announced. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is playing President Obama for GOP nominee Mitt Romney, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is playing Romney for Obama, and Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen is playing Ryan for Biden.