Paul Ryan Isn’t Elevating the Race

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney named Rep. Paul Ryan his running mate, there was lots of speculation that it would raise the level of conversation on the Big Issues of the campaign.

Beltway pundits seemed to envision a cross between Cicero at the Roman senate and Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton debating federalism when the US Constitution was forged.

The two campaigns quickly put an end to that dream.

Over the last few days, surrogates for both Romney and President Obama went after each other with even more gusto than they had before.

Here’s Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus on Meet the Press Sunday:

This president stole.  He didn’t cut Medicare.  He stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare.  If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it’s Barack Obama.  He’s the one that’s destroying Medicare.

Later in the show, Obama campaign  senior adviser David Axelrod fired back at Romney for an ad that said President Obama had removed the work requirement from welfare reform:

…Every single person who’s looked at it, every expert, every news organization, every fact checker has said [it] is patently false. And {Romney] is lecturing people on the quality of campaigns?  He ought to be ashamed of himself.  He ought to tell his own campaign in the commercials that he controls, “Take that off.  It’s not true.  It’s not fair.”


Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom and Obama campaign aide Stephanie Cutter slug it out on Face the Nation. Credit: CBS News.

On CBS News’ Face the Nation, Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom lashed out at the president:

Mitt Romney is going to be running an issue-oriented campaign, waged on big ideas and not engaged in the kind of nasty, negative politics that we’ve seen from the Barack Obama campaign…They’re really running a campaign without a conscience. If I had to give their campaign playbook a title, I’d call it “50 Shades of Mud.”

Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter hit back with one of the campaign’s favorite themes:

Does Eric think it’s right…for Mitt Romney to pay less than 1% in taxes but you’re asking senior citizens who rely on Medicare to pay up to $6,000 more for their health care?….That’s the budget that Paul Ryan has on the table and that’s the budget you just wrapped your arms around…

And on Tuesday, former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, the toughest Romney surrogate of them all, mixed it up with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien over the Romney campaign’s talking point that Obama cut Medicare:

Sununu: {President Obama] reduces services to Medicare beneficiaries currently on the package….Romney says no impact to anybody 55 and over…The reduction of services start on January 1, 2013 and [President] Obama stole that money to put it into programs under Obamacare….”
O’Brien: The hospitals agreed to that. The drug providers agreed to that because [they hope to] make up by the number of people who come into the system. It doesn’t reduce or cut the benefits.”
Sununu:  Soledad–stop this. All you’re doing is mimicking the stuff that comes out of the White House and gets repeated on the Democratic blog boards out there….
O’Brien: I’m telling you what tells you. I’m telling you what the CBO tells you. I’m telling you what CNN’s independent analysis does.

Here’s how CBS News fact checked the Romney campaign’s claim (italics added):

The president’s health care reform law is indeed paid for in part by reducing Medicare’s expected rate of growth between now and 2022. According to data from the Kaiser Foundation, however, the reductions come primarily from cuts to Medicare Advantage plans, as well as in hospital reimbursements and in payments to other providers. It does not limit access to benefits for Medicare recipients..

It’s clear that so far at least, Paul Ryan’s entry to the race has generated a lot of heat but not much light.



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