“He is taking your money to finance his risky and unproven takeover of the health-care system,” Romney said in Chillicothe. “He is putting Medicare at greater risk. He is putting health care at greater risk. He is putting your jobs at greater risk. We will not let Obamacare happen.”
Romney’s advisers foreshadowed more efforts in the days ahead to define the Medicare debate on their terms. The campaign is trying to show voters that it will not shrink from Obama, even on politically treacherous terrain — including Medicare.
“Stay tuned. There’s a lot more to be had here,” Ed Gillespie, a senior Romney adviser, said in an interview. “We feel like this is a great debate, that the president is incredibly vulnerable here. . . . We have a plan to save it for future generations, which they don’t have.”
However, the move carries significant risk, particularly in Florida and here in Ohio, critical swing states that have many seniors — although it may be the only way to cushion Romney from the potential political fallout of Ryan’s budget proposal.
“You have to reform it for the younger generation in order to make the commitment stick for the current generation,” Ryan said on Fox News Channel. “President Obama is actually damaging Medicare for current seniors. It’s irrefutable. And that’s why I think this is a debate we want to have, and that’s a debate we’re going to win.”
The Obama campaign accused Romney of hypocrisy, noting that the Republican supports Ryan’s budget, which includes Obama’s $716 billion in baseline Medicare cuts.
The Obama campaign issued a memo Tuesday about the dim view many Floridians hold of Romney’s and Ryan’s statements on Medicare. Citing numerous recent polls and newspaper articles in Florida, the memo made the case that Romney’s selection of Ryan as his running mate will be a “game changer” in Florida.
“They’re spending millions of dollars on a lie to try to distract from the Ryan budget because they know it’s absolutely devastating for them with voters of all ages,” said Stephanie Cutter, a top Obama aide. “Unfortunately, the fact that both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to turn Medicare into a voucher and raise costs for seniors by up to $6,000 blunts everything else in this conversation.”
The Medicare push came on a day on when Obama and Romney also traded blows over energy policy: the president promoting new homegrown sources such as wind to replace imported oil, and his GOP challenger journeying to coal country to accuse Obama of destroying the coal industry.
Romney has long assailed Obama for imposing regulations that he says have stymied business for producers of more traditional energy sources while favoring elusive alternative energies.
Yet on day two of his three-day campaign across an Iowa landscape where wind turbines are nearly as common as cornfields, Obama pounded Romney and pushed Congress to extend tax credits for the wind-energy industry — an effort Republicans oppose.
In Iowa alone, the industry employs more than 7,000 people, according to the Obama campaign; nationwide, that figure is 75,000. Obama has said that 37,000 jobs nationally would be at risk if the wind-tax credit is not extended.
Romney, the president said, has called new energy sources “imaginary” and Ryan has called them a “fad.”
“During a speech a few months ago, Governor Romney even explained his energy policy this way: ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it,’ ” Obama said. “I wonder if he actually tried that. That’s something I would have liked to see.”
Then, Obama added: “I don’t know if he’s actually tried that. I know he’s had other things on his car.” It was a rare reference by Obama to Romney having once placed his dog Seamus in a crate mounted to the roof of his station wagon during a family vacation.
Gardner reported from Iowa. Rosalind S. Helderman in Washington and Felicia Sonmez in Colorado contributed to this report.