"Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod claimed that Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to join him on the GOP presidential ticket was meant to "thrill the most strident voices" in the GOP, and said Ryan's selection should "trouble" the middle class.
"He (Ryan) is a right-wing ideologue, the intellectual energy behind the Republican caucus there in Congress," Axelrod told me this morning on "This Week." "He constructed a budget that, like Romney, would lavish trillions of dollars of tax cuts, most of them on the wealthy, would raise the burden on the middle class, would cut back things deeply like student loans, and research and development, and things we need to grow the economy."
Axelrod called Ryan "outside the mainstream," adding that the new Republican ticket will give voters a stark choice on Election Day.
"It is a pick that is meant to thrill the most strident voices in the Republican Party, but it's one that should trouble everybody else, the middle class, seniors, students, because of Ryan's record," Axelrod said. "He is outside the mainstream, but he - this was a defining choice for Mitt Romney, and now it's also a clarifying choice for the American people."
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, appearing on "This Week" following Axelrod, called Ryan a "terrific pick," and told me he was not disappointed about not being selected himself as Romney's running mate.
Pawlenty was on the short list of top vice presidential contenders this summer, as well as in 2008 when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., selected former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.
"You know, I'm excited for the ticket. I'm excited for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan," Pawlenty said. "I didn't support Governor Romney because I expected to be vice president, so I'm not disappointed. I didn't get something I didn't expect."
"But it's a great ticket, it's a terrific pick by Governor Romney, and Congressman Ryan, as you've already seen, is bringing energy to the ticket, and he's got a clear, specific vision, an adult approach to solving the nation's problems, and you don't see that from the president and his team," Pawlenty added.
Axelrod went on to say that both Romney and Ryan "do not believe" in Medicare and went after Ryan for his controversial budget plan that would cut federal spending significantly.
"He's the guy who's the architect of a plan to end Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher program and ship thousands of dollars of costs onto senior citizens," Axelrod said. "He's someone who was the architect of a Social Security privatization scheme that was so out there that even George Bush called it irresponsible, and he believes that we should ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest."
Pawlenty, rebutting Axelrod, praised Ryan for offering up a specific proposal for addressing the fiscal issues facing the United States.
"I think the American people are smart, and I think the American people respect people who have real solutions to big problems," Pawlenty said. "And so Congressman Ryan and Governor Romney have put together a plan that actually tackles the problem in specific, preserves Medicare and other programs for people who are already on the program, but begins to change it in needed and realistic ways for the next generation. And it's a big debate, it's an important debate, but unlike the president, they are actually willing to lead."
Ryan is the author of the "Path to Prosperity" budget plan that would, among other things, significantly cut federal spending and reform Medicare. Being associated with Ryan's budget could prove politically risky for Romney in election swing states like Florida that have a large number of elderly voters.
Watch my interviews with David Axelrod and Tim Pawlenty here: