Ryan also spoke for the first time on the trail about his grandmother, who he said had advanced Alzheimer’s disease and had moved in with him and his mother while Ryan was in high school.
“You learn a lot about life” when a relative falls ill, he said.
“Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma, when we needed it then, and Medicare is there for my mom while she needs it now, and we have to keep that guarantee,” he said to applause.
He also emphasized another point Republicans have made on the trail in recent weeks, citing his mother in a dig at Obama’s now-infamous “you didn’t build that” line.
“Mom, I am proud of you for going out and getting another degree,” Ryan said. “I’m proud of you for going out and building the small business that you created, and mom, you did build that.”
Whether the GOP ticket’s effort to seize the offense in the Medicare debate will pay dividends among voters remains an open question. Democrats were ready with their own message Saturday morning: Spotted flying above The Villages was a plane, sponsored by MoveOn.org, bearing a banner reading, “Paul Ryan, Keep Your Hands Off Our Medicare.”
In a statement, Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said that Ryan was “not telling the truth” about his Medicare plan and that he had left out key, “politically ‘suicidal’ ” details.
“Congressman Ryan didn’t tell seniors in Florida today that if he had his way, seniors would face higher Medicare premiums and prescription drug costs and would be forced to pay out of pocket for preventive care,” Kanner said. “He didn’t say that if he had his way, Medicare would be bankrupt in just four years or that he would give $150 billion taxpayer dollars back to private insurance companies, which raises costs for everyone.
“He didn’t say that they’d turn Medicare into a voucher system, ending the Medicare guarantee and raising costs by $6,400 a year for seniors,” he added. “And he certainly didn’t say that they’d do it all to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. But those are the facts, and the ‘substantive’ debate he claims they want requires Romney and Ryan to be honest about them.”
Opinions voiced by those in the audience — like the level of detail when it came to their knowledge of Ryan’s Medicare plan — were mixed.
Bill Coale, a 67-year-old resident of The Villages who came originally from Sterling, Va., said that he hasn’t looked into Ryan’s proposal but that “anything is better than what we’ve got right now,” referring to the national health-care law.
George MacDonald, 73-year-old retiree from Long Island, said he had “no problem” with Ryan’s plan.
“I personally like his plan, because at 73, it really wouldn’t affect me,” he said. “It’s something for the future. . . . Under Obama, I just have too many problems — with the money he took away, the $716 billion.”
But Pat Graybill, a 71-year-old retiree from Ohio who has lived at The Villages since 1981, said that while she hasn’t heard too much about Ryan’s plan, she believes that Medicare shouldn’t be tinkered with.
“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” she said.