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 care program for the elderly.
Criticized by Democrats as the author of a cost-cutting budget proposal, Ryan has tried to distance himself from his own plan to curb Medicare benefits since Mitt Romney named him as his running mate a week ago.
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 moved away from his plan to emphasize less contentious proposals by Romney.
Talk of shrinking the health program for the elderly could lose votes in the November 6 election in the hotly contested state of Florida, home to the highest concentration of retirees in the country. Continued...