Ryan puts personal spin on Medicare debate
By Alina Selyukh
THE VILLAGES, Florida (Reuters) - Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on Saturday put a personal spin on the debate over Medicare, bringing his 78-year-old mother on stage at a speech to seniors in Florida where he vowed to safeguard the health insurance program for the elderly.
Under attack by Democrats for his budget cost-cutting plan that proposes a major transformation in how Medicare works, Ryan has gone on the offensive, charging that President Barack Obama would take billions from Medicare to pay for his 2010 health care reform law.
With that, he has also begun to align himself with presidential candidate Mitt Romney's approach to Medicare, one that would spend $716 billion more than either Obama's or Ryan's over the next 10 years.
Ryan personalized the issue at The Villages, the world's biggest retirement community and a bastion of Republican support in a key swing state.
"When I think of Medicare, it's not just a program, it's not just a bunch of numbers, it's what my mom relies on, it's what my grandma had," Ryan, 42, said.
Standing in front of a banner that read "Protect And Strengthen Medicare," Ryan hugged his mother Betty Douglas, who lives part-time in Florida. The short-haired, diminutive Douglas waved to the crowd.
Romney's choice of Ryan as his running mate has put a spotlight on the Wisconsin congressman's best-known achievement - a budget plan that would slash Medicare's projected costs by converting it to a program that provides limited subsidies to buy coverage.
But on the campaign trail, Ryan has emphasized less contentious proposals offered by Romney. Continued...