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The New Romney-Ryan Ticket: The White House Reacts


Just as Mr. Ryan is a champion for fiscal conservatives, he's a big target for Democrats. President Obama's campaign wasted no time in attacking Mitt Romney's new running mate.

NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now. So, Scott, the initial response from the Obama campaign?

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Well, Linda, the campaign did wait until the announcement was actually made this morning. But then within minutes, we had a statement from campaign manager Jim Messina. It said, in part, that Ryan shares Romney's commitment to the, quote, "flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy."

WERTHEIMER: Now, obviously, the Obama team had done their homework about the potential running mates for Governor Romney. I suppose with Paul Ryan, they weren't exactly starting from scratch.

HORSLEY: No, they weren't. President Obama has in effect been running against Paul Ryan and other House Republicans for two years now. Last April, he famously invited Ryan to a speech at George Washington University where Mr. Obama spelled out his own deficit-cutting plan. And with Ryan sitting right there in the audience, the president ripped apart the Ryan budget.

At that time, just as now, some people were calling the Ryan plan serious and courageous. And the president said, and I quote, "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don't think there's anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those that can least afford it and don't have any clout on Capitol Hill. That's not a vision of America I know."

So, it was a real throwing down of the gauntlet right there.

WERTHEIMER: We just had Matt Continetti here talking the choice of Paul Ryan, and he said that he thought, what this means is that President Obama and Paul Ryan will be running against each other, and that will be the contest. Do you think that's - I mean, what do the Obama folks think about that?

HORSLEY: Well, you know, even if Paul Ryan were not on the ticket, the president would be trying to make this a contest with congressional Republicans. Members of Congress of both parties are not held in very high esteem and you hear the president trying to make this a contest with the Republican agenda in Congress. On Thursday, he was in Colorado Springs attacking sort of GOP principles and trying to yoke Romney to the budget plan put forward by the House Republicans. Well, now Romney's put that yoke on himself. It is going to be very much, you know, the president's economic agenda against the agenda put forward by Mitt Romney, but, you know, we have a real blueprint, a real roadmap for the president to run against with Paul Ryan, as well.

WERTHEIMER: So, the main line of attack, is it going to be Medicare, is it going to be taxes? What do you think?

HORSLEY: I think both of those. By far the most controversial part of Ryan's budget plan is the changes it would make to Medicare; replacing the sort of open-ended commitment with a voucher that may or may not keep pace with rising health care costs. The Democrats say it will not keep pace and that will shift costs onto seniors, future seniors, and also on the tax plan, which like Romney's own plan, makes big cuts for the wealthy, but has the potential to shift costs onto the middle class. You've heard about Romneyhood? Now, you're going to be hearing about Ryanhood from the Obama people.


WERTHEIMER: NPR's Scott Horsley. Thank you so much, Scott.

HORSLEY: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.