Romney campaign senior adviser Kevin Madden defended Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., over his charge that President Obama has "raided" Medicare to pay for "Obamacare" - despite Ryan including the same cuts in his own budget.
"What President Obama did actually weakens Medicare. It takes $700 billion out of it and uses it to spend on a new entitlement, which is part of Obamacare," Madden told me this morning on "This Week." "What Romney-Ryan does is actually restore those cuts, puts it back into Medicare to make it more solvent."
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have made that charge repeatedly on the campaign trail this week, saying Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act - cuts the Romney-Ryan campaign say they will restore.
"The president raids $716 billion from the Medicare program to pay for the Obamacare program," Ryan said at a campaign stop in Florida yesterday. "Here is what Mitt Romney and I will do: We will end the raid of Medicare."
But Ryan proposed keeping the same cuts to Medicare in his own budget proposal this year. And the Obama administration disputes the criticism of the Medicare cuts, saying they reduce waste, fraud and abuse, and cut payments to hospitals, not Medicare services to seniors.
"They're being dishonest about my plans since they can't sell their plans," Obama said in New Hampshire yesterday in response to the attack. "You think they'd avoid talking about Medicare, given the fact that both of them have proposed to voucherize the Medicare system."
Earlier this week, one of the Romney campaign's most prominent surrogates, former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, also seemed to contradict the campaign's message that Romney and Ryan do not have major differences over the proposed cuts to Medicare.
"When Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that," Sununu said Tuesday. "The Ryan plan mimics part of the Obama package there. The Romney plan does not. That's a big difference."
I asked Madden about the discrepancy, and whether the Romney campaign is unfairly targeting Obama over the Medicare cuts. Here's his full response:
TAPPER: "How can you guys be attacking President Obama for cuts to Medicare that Paul Ryan himself proposed, according to your own surrogate, John Sununu?"
MADDEN: "Well, look, starting on Saturday, what you saw was a Romney-Ryan ticket come together with shared values and shared principles about how we would restore those cuts to Medicare and how we would make it more solvent. What President Obama did actually weakens Medicare. It takes $700 billion out of it and uses it to spend on a new entitlement, which is part of Obamacare. So it actually takes the money away from Medicare and spends it in a new way, and that's - that's the wrong approach. That's actually going to hurt current beneficiaries right now."
MADDEN: "What Romney-Ryan does is actually restore those cuts, puts it back into Medicare to make it more solvent, because that's what we need to do, and then it actually looks at other ways which we can continue to make Medicare solvent for future generations. And it doesn't affect any of the beneficiaries that are currently in Medicare. So those are very big differences."