OXFORD, Ohio – Paul Ryan had a second homecoming Wednesday, returning to his alma mater, Miami University, where he took on the issue of Medicare, which Democrats are hoping will derail Mitt Romney’s campaign now that Ryan, the House budget chairman, has joined the ticket.
But Ryan is playing offense. Mentioning Medicare for the first time on the stump, he repeated a line of attack introduced earlier in the week by the Romney campaign.
“We want this debate, we need this debate and we will win this debate,” Ryan told a crowd of thousands on campus. “What I don’t think he’ll be telling people is that the president took $716 billion from the Medicare program.
“The president’s campaign says this raid of Medicare to pay for Obamacare, which leads to fewer services for current seniors, is an achievement,” Ryan said. “Do you think raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare is an achievement? Well, neither do I.”
What the House budget chairman didn’t say, and what both Romney and Ryan want voters to believe, is that the Republican ticket opposes the Medicare changes, but that’s not accurate. Ryan actually endorsed the same exact cuts in his signature budget plan, the same plan Romney has said he would sign if he became president.
The cuts do not affect benefits for seniors or the elderly. Instead, they reduce provider reimbursements and curb waste, fraud and abuse.
Nevertheless, Ryan continued his Medicare attack, telling the college crowd that the Obama campaign is based on “anger and division.”
“This is one area where this election presents such a clear contrast,” Ryan said. “Gov. Romney and I will protect and strengthen Medicare for our future seniors and for our future seniors of tomorrow.”
Ryan’s plan, which would go into affect in 10 years, would fundamentally change Medicare, replacing it with a voucher program.
It wasn’t all policy talk, though. Ryan revved up the crowd by saying both the school and the crowd “means a lot to us,” and he littered his speech with hometown food mentions.
“Skyline fiveway, turkey gobblers, cheese fries and skippers. Bagel and Deli is still here for sure right?” Ryan asked.
The candidate now stays very healthy, eating organic and subscribing to an intense fitness regime called P90X. He didn’t even stop for the array of fried food at the Iowa State Fair earlier this week, a tradition for politicians making their way through the fair.
Ryan has a history of heart disease in his family. His father died of a heart attack when Ryan was only 16 years old.
Two Ohio politicians were on hand for the event – Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who reportedly was on Romney’s vice presidential short list. Despite being passed over, Portman introduced Ryan, praising him and even giving him his “lucky Buckeye,” which Ryan said Portman kept with him throughout his Senate race. Ryan called Portman a “close friend,” and called Ohio “so important,” adding that it “could very well determine the future of our country for a long time.”
Ryan will campaign in the state again Thursday with a stop in North Canton, Ohio.