Ann Romney to visit Moffitt; Ryan preps in St. Pete for debate
TAMPA - The Tampa area is getting lots of attention from the Mitt Romney presidential campaign this week. Following Romney's appearance in St. Petersburg Friday, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has been in St. Petersburg since late Monday preparing for Thursday's vice presidential debate, and Ann Romney will tour Moffitt Cancer Center on Wednesday. Romney, a breast cancer survivor who also battles multiple sclerosis, will tour the Women's Oncology Center, a clinic at Moffitt devoted to cancers in women. After that, she'll meet with patients and members of their families.Ryan, meanwhile, arrived in St. Petersburg on Monday to continue preparing for his Wednesday debate with Vice President Joe Biden. He'll leave Wednesday for Lexington, Ky., and the debate will take place at Centre College in nearby Danville. No public events for either Ryan or Ann Romney have been announced. The campaign wouldn't release details about Ryan, including where he's staying. According to the campaign, he spent 3 1/2 days last week in Virginia focused just on debate preparation, and started on another day and a half in St. Petersburg. The stand-in for Biden in the practice sessions is prominent Washington lawyer Ted Olson, former solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration and a legal counselor to other Republican presidents. The campaign has been playing the expectations game in advance of the debate, seeking to emphasize Biden's debating experience – 18 presidential or vice presidential debates including 14 in 2008. "After the president's performance last week, we know Joe Biden will coming at us like a cannonball," said Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck. Reversing typical Republican taunts about Biden's tendency toward gaffes, a campaign spokesman said Biden "has always been a focused debater – it's not a setting in which he makes gaffes." Ann Romney, 63, was diagnosed with a non-invasive form of breast cancer late in 2008, following her husband's unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination that year. She subsequently had a lumpectomy and radiation therapy, and has been considered cancer-free since. Her visit comes during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Moffitt is Florida's only location designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, meaning it does extensive research on cancer as well as providing advanced forms of treatment. The designation usually involves several years of building research capacity in addition to a review process, and leads to significant federal research funding. Moffitt has more than 4,200 employees, is licensed for 206 beds and recorded more than 324,000 outpatient visits in fiscal 2012, according to figures from the center. It receives more than $55 million a year in grant funding.
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