This week was always going to be all about Paul Ryan -- and the Romney campaign knew that. So, it's telling that the presumptive Republican nominee avoided specifics when asked -- not once, not twice, but three times -- whether there are parts of Ryan's Medicare plan he disagrees with. "Well, the items that we agree on I think outweigh any differences there may be," Romney said at a news conference in Miami. "We haven't gone through piece by piece and said, 'Oh, here's a place where there's a difference.'"
And Ryan, in his first solo appearance as the vice presidential candidate in Iowa yesterday did not mention the word "Medicare" once, as the Washington Examiner's Byron York notes.
"Ryan's speech was an early indicator that the Romney campaign will not go out of its way to showcase the project to which Ryan has devoted the last few years of his professional life," York writes. "[We] might see a campaign in which both Republican candidates seek to downplay their signature achievements -- Romney downplaying his Massachusetts universal health care program, and Ryan downplaying the Ryan budget."
But, at the end of the day, Mitt Romney's biggest challenge remains defining himself.
His unfavorable ratings are uncomfortably high for August, and even GOP strategists concede that the summer pounding by Team Obama has taken a toll on his standing in battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia.
The Republican National Convention gives him his big opportunity for that reset. But, his latest assault on Obama's welfare policy has also struck a nerve. Witness the very forceful pushback from Team Obama about the ads.
As ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, the Obama campaign is out with new web video this morning pushing back on Romney's welfare attack and his "high-road lip service" in recent interviews. Fact-checkers have called Romney's claims that President Obama is ending the work requirement for welfare "pants on fire" false. In the battle for white, working class women (a.k.a. "waitress moms") this issue has serious resonance. And, it could be a potent rejoinder to the "Mediscare" attacks by Democrats.