Las Vegas (CNN) – Paul Ryan continued to go after President Barack Obama and defend Mitt Romney on Tuesday, but the Republican vice presidential candidate stayed away from the issue of Medicare that continues to dog the GOP campaign.
The Romney campaign stepped up its defense by responding to Democratic attacks on the issue with a television ad. Ryan was asked about the brewing debate in a Fox News interview, but otherwise steered clear at two public rallies, until he weighed in via Twitter.
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Ryan tweeted a link to the new ad with the message, "@BarackObama cut $716b from Medicare to fund Obamacare. We offer a plan to save, protect & strengthen Medicare."
Ryan's Medicare proposal has been hit hard by Democrats as a plan to gut the program, though Ryan has said it is necessary to keep the program solvent. In a Fox News interview, he said that Medicare is "absolutely" a winning issue for Republicans, "because we're the ones who are offering a plan to save Medicare, to protect Medicare, to strengthen Medicare."
The new vice presidential candidate focused on the economy and energy at his first rally in Colorado in a Denver suburb.
Later, at a rally in Las Vegas, Ryan pointed to the housing crisis and Nevada's high unemployment rate, well above the 8.2% national average, to push the argument against an Obama second term. He did not mention that the jobless rate in Las Vegas is even higher at 12.1%.
“Of all the places, of all the places that need jobs and for home values to rebound, it's Nevada," Ryan said. "The unemployment rate? I had to read this number three times. 11.6 % in Nevada. You deserve better than that. You deserve jobs in your economy, you deserve an America that's heading in the right direction."
He also accused the president of focusing more on his re-election than creating solutions to problems.
"We have a president who like a lot of people in Washington, are more worried about their next election than they are about the next generation,” he said.
The 42-year-old House Budget Committee chairman defended his career choice as a member of Congress for 13 years, which is a career path his presidential running mate has been known to criticize.
"And like Mitt likes to say, he served as governor. He spent time in public service, but he didn't inhale," Ryan said, getting a rouse out of the audience. "Public service isn't all bad as long as you do the right thing of course."
– CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.
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