The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it was targeting "70 vulnerable House Republicans" with the message that Ryan's plan "ends Medicare." That's a reference to Ryan's plan to transform the hugely popular health care program for the elderly into a voucher-like system as part of an effort to contain its swelling costs. It's an argument that Obama himself has essentially been making for months—as recently as the July 19 event in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Even in a campaign that has seen Obama and Romney each try to portray the other as History's Greatest Monster (as The Simpsons once dubbed Jimmy Carter,) some of Obama's past clashes with Ryan have had something of a personal tone.
In April 2011, Obama was caught on tape blasting Ryan to donors. In remarks reported by CBS Radio News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, Obama charged that Ryan was "not on the level" when it came to cutting the deficit.
"This is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill—but wasn't paid for," Obama said. (Ryan's response: "Rather than building bridges, he's poisoning wells.")
One year later, Obama charged at an Associated Press luncheon that Ryan's budget amounted to " thinly veiled Social Darwinism." (Ryan's response: Obama "has chosen to distort the truth and divide Americans in order to distract from his failed record.")
But for his part, Ryan is no stranger to leading Republican attacks on Obama—his main role as vice presidential nominee and one he has played with relish since the administration's first year. In late 2009, Ryan predicted that defeating the Democrat's health care overhaul would mean "a failed presidency" that had to negotiate with Republicans.
That might make debating Vice President Joe Biden—some three decades senior to the 42-year-old lawmaker—a bit of a letdown.
Biden's strategy? Maybe this could be a preview: Biden calls Ryan "a fine guy."
"He's a bright, handsome guy from the state of Wisconsin. He a fine guy," Biden went on. "But I think his ideas are not nearly as fine as he is a man."