“What’s gutsy about gutting Medicare, Medicaid, education?” Biden said at a rally in Durham. “It’s not fair to the middle class and the working poor, and it will not grow the economy or reduce the deficit.”
The Romney campaign, still basking in a rush of attention two days after the Ryan announcement, offered less of a coordinated message than its Democratic counterparts. But with both Romney and Ryan in states with sizable elderly populations — the presumptive nominee spent the day in Florida — both men avoided focusing on Ryan’s plans for Medicare, the health-care program for retirees and those older than 65.
Generally, Republicans believe they can blunt Democratic attacks on Ryan’s Medicare proposal by going on the offensive: Emphasizing that his plan was a politically courageous attempt to salvage the program by halting its unmanageable growth.
But on Monday, Romney declined to offer a forceful defense of Ryan’s budget. And, after indicating in an interview Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he would run on his own budget plans — not Ryan’s — Romney, appearing at a Miami news conference, repeatedly declined to outline what differentiates his ideas from Ryan’s.
“I’m sure there are places that my budget is different than his, but we’re on the same page,” he said. “As I’ve said before, we want to get America on track to a balanced budget. . . . My plan for Medicare is very similar to his plan for Medicare.”
Ryan appeared eager to emphasize other aspects of Romney’s economic message Monday, an effort muddied when hecklers disrupted his remarks.
About half a dozen protesters at the Iowa State Fair repeatedly interrupted the congressman, rushing the stage in a scene uncharacteristic for the normally highly scripted Romney campaign. “Are you going to cut Medicare?” one woman screamed from a few yards in front of Ryan.
“Stop the war on the middle class!” yelled an older, bespectacled man.
Ryan seemed to take the disruption in stride, continuing his stump speech without teleprompters or notes. “One thing we’ve got to get straight — one thing we got to get straight is we’re not growing this economy like we need to,” he said. “We’re not creating jobs like we can in America. And that is why Mitt Romney and I have a plan for a stronger middle class to get this country back on track, get this country growing jobs again and get us back on the path to prosperity in this country.”
Helderman reported from Washington. Philip Rucker in St. Augustine, Fla.; Felicia Sonmez and Ed O’Keefe in Des Moines; and Jon Cohen in Washington contributed to this report.