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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - Word is that Vice President Joe Biden and his Republican opponent Paul Ryan have been squirreled away for days now, cramming for their Thursday night debate showdown.

And if there's one thing we learned from Mitt Romney's- President Obama smackdown, it's that the homework matters.

If there's one picture I can't get out of my mind from last week's presidential debate .its this one. Republican Mitt Romney, watching President Obama ramble through his talking points. Romney is smiling just slightly, but its really the look of man who's thinking, 'I've read your playbook, my friend. I knew you were going to say that, and I'm all over you.'

Doesn't matter what Romney said. Doesn't matter if it was an etch-a-sketch moment. What matters is that it was the president who stumbled and struggled and looked woefully under-prepared. There's a whole cottage industry devoted to speculating as to what went wrong.

But the New York times quotes White house advisers as saying the president's practice efforts were inconsistent, that he thinks debates are a waste, more theater than substance. Okay, but to take that analogy one step further: in theater, the audience doesn't care why the star can't perform. And sometimes the understudy gets the standing o.

In other words, this race just got a whole lot more interesting. Thing is, if we can believe the New York Times, maybe it didn't have to be.

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