The Villages, Florida (CNN) – There were two Ryans onstage Saturday at the largest retirement community in the country: The Republican vice presidential candidate and his mom.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin got a helping hand from his mother Betty, a retiree who lives part-time in the Sunshine State, as he promised to protect Medicare and attacked President Barack Obama over the popular federal health insurance program for seniors.
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"Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma when we needed it. Medicare is here for my mom when she needs it now and we have to keep that guarantee. My mom has been on Medicare for 10 years, but I won't tell you exactly how many years over 10 years she's been on it," Ryan told a large and very supportive crowd consisting mainly of retirees and those nearing retirement age.
"She planned her retirement based around this promise that the government made her because she paid her payroll taxes into this program that she had this promise with. That's a promise we have to keep.”
Since presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney announced the seven-term congressman as his running mate one week ago, Medicare has become a much-battled-about issue on the campaign trail.
The Obama campaign and fellow Democrats instantly attacked Ryan over the budget plan that he introduced in the House, terming it a "radical plan" that would benefit the rich at the detriment to the middle-class, and they highlighted his proposals to alter Medicare, which they said would "end Medicare as we know it."
The Romney campaign has fired back, accusing the president of cutting the entitlement program to pay for his signature health care reform law.
Ryan continued that attack Saturday.
"Here's what the president won't tell you about his Medicare plan, about Obamacare: The president raids $716 billion dollars from the Medicare program to pay for the Obamacare program," he said.
But he also added a new line as he touted the GOP ticket's proposals, saying "we think the best way to save Medicare is to empower 50 million seniors, not 15 unelected bureaucrats to make their decisions in how they get their health care. Mitt Romney and I will protect and strengthen Medicare so that the promises that were made, that people organized their retirements around like my mom, will be promises that are kept."
The president and his re-election campaign are pushing back against the GOP attacks. A new television commercial running this weekend in key battleground states rebuts the Romney-Ryan charges with the narrator in the spot saying "the non-partisan AARP says Obamacare 'cracks down on Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse,' and strengthens guaranteed benefits."
And the commercial criticizes the Ryan proposals on Medicare, with the announcer adding that "AARP says it would undermine Medicare and could lead to higher costs for seniors. And experts say Ryan's voucher plan could raise future retirees’ costs more than $6,000."
The Romney campaign is getting the $716 billion figure from a July 24 Congressional Budget Office report which measured the impact of repealing the health care overhaul law, which Romney has promised to do.
The report says that under the repeal measure, "Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013-2022 period." Those spending increases would be a result of more spending on hospital and medical insurance, offset by a decrease in prescription drug coverage.
The report also notes that the projected $716 billion increase in Medicare spending if the the health care law is repealed does not signal a $716 billion decrease if the measure stays in place - which is Romney's argument.
Although the purpose of the event was to tout the campaign's position on Medicare, Ryan also pitched the Republican ticket's economic message using his mother's background as a source of inspiration for him.
"You know, growing up, my dad worked and my mom stayed at home. I've got three older siblings – a sister and two brothers. And my mom stayed at home those years. When my dad died, my mom went back to school, she went back to college, got a new skill or a new trade and she started a small business. My mom had three or four employees at that small business that she started," he said.
His mom, Betty Douglas, started an interior decoration business and went to school at the University of Wisconsin.
Getting choked up, Ryan turned to his mom who was sitting in a chair behind the stage and said, "Mom, I am proud of you for going out and getting another degree. I am proud of you for the small business that you created and mom, you did build that!"
Ryan was referring to a comment Obama made at a campaign event in Virginia in mid-July when he was trying to make an argument for public investments like infrastructure and education that support the private sector.
"If you are successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen," Obama said at the time.
The Romney campaign and Republicans have been attacking the president over the "you didn't build it" line ever since, using it on the trail, on t-shirts and bumper stickers, and in a television commercial. Democrats say the line was taken out of context.
A few blocks away from Ryan's event, a small protest was organized by labor and retirement groups including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Florida organization Organize Now.
The Villages, which is just more than an hour northwest of Orlando, has become a must stop for presidential candidates, both in the primaries and in the general election. Romney held an event here when he was battling for the GOP nomination. And Sarah Palin drew a large crowd at the Villages four years ago when the then-Alaska governor was Sen. John McCain's running mate on the Republican ticket.
Obama narrowly won Florida four years ago. The most recent polling this time around has Obama holding a single-digit advantage in the battle for the state's 29 electoral votes.
– CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report
... Never seen a politician bring a note from his mommy. SMH...
ryan's Medicare vouchers are MURDER and it will be non existing in a very short time , nauseating liars the willard and ryand -that's the combination of the rand and ryan team-
Funny that Ryan should care so much about promises made regarding Medicare ONLY for those 55 and older, but not those under 55. We are in such a bad situation when elections are largely determined by the 55 and older crowd, and politicians will tippy-toe ever so gently not to anger THEM for fear of losing their votes. FUTURE seniors are important to!!!!!
By the way Ryan, I'm sure your mom isn't hurting financially. How much money has she contributed to Medicare versus how much in benefits will she eventually use? Perhaps there are other ways to tackle Medicare's financial woes besides giving our FUTURE seniors a voucher program which might burden them with an extra $6000+ a year!
A million dollar son supported by his million dollar mom. Gee, this is stunning, NOT!
Obama + Biden = STUPID It doesn't matter how smart Obama is Biden wipes it out.
"Here's what the president won't tell you about his Medicare plan, about Obamacare: The president raids $716 billion dollars from the Medicare program to pay for the Obamacare program," Ryan said.
Why do Romney, Ryan and the Republicans continue to lie about this? They know it's not true and yet they keep saying it. If they really think Obama has been so bad, all they have to do is tell the truth. Why the constant lying about Medicare, Welfare, taxes, etc?
"Mom, you built that"? lol Don't blame your mom, dodo.
At least Laurel and Hardy were funny. :-)
Ryans mother did build the business. But unless she built the furniture, roads the trucks carried it on , the internet, the power grids, the water and sewer systems (for her designs to work) , built the college, and had a tutor come to her home, then President Obama was right.
Ryan's mother does not need Medicare and neither do most of those wealthy seniors at the Villages. You could save medicare if you got them off of it. It looks like they raided local nursing homes to get a crowd. Some of them looked like they did not know where they were. I noticed Ryan did not tell them about the money he is pulling out of medicare to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy. What does he care, he will be long gone in 10 years.
wow, way to go ryan . bring your mother into your lies. How could you use your own mother to sell your lies as if it will change anyone mind about you and romney. even if your mother do not have medicare you have enough money to take care of her medical needs. please stop viewing the american people as stupid.
God bless Americar, God bless you, president Obama.
Ryans Mom will never have to worry about healthcare. Can't say the same about someone disabled,or elderly widows, living solely on Social Security. They have paid into Medicare too. 6,000 more when you are making 1200.00 a month or 14,400.00 a year is impossible. Romney and Ryan have no clue about what that would be like. How in this day and age can someone live on 8,400 a year? Just rent could be more. So they would go without ad stay home and die.
Oh Great!...A VP wanna be who needs to be breast feed while on camphayne trail....yeah that s who i want making decisions about my kids future....Whod a thunk the GOP would ever hit lower than mittens....
They never bothered to mention that Ryan's mom is an attorney's widow, seriously doubt if she relies on SS or medicare to survive like most American seniors.
Of course this is designed to "look like" typical retiree Florida. But everybody who lives in the northern part of the state KNOWS that The Villages is just about the hardest-core conservative community in the country. It's where the rich rednecks live and shouldn't be indicative of what most FL retirees care about.
Romney hides behind his wife's skirt and this guy his mom's pants to convince voters that their ticket would help them. Bogus. Some one need ask his mom in private what she really thinks about republican medicare.
Now Ryan's an expert on China foreign policy. He's flip flopped on this issue quite a bit. Sounds as if he is ready to dump Romney and go it alone. Just what we need. Of course, his vouchers will destroy medicare. The greedy insurance companies backed by a Romney presidency would raise premium prices way beyond the meager value of the vouchers. They also would limit the total coverage and not cover preexisting conditions and retain the right to kick you out if you become seriously ill. His ideas of ultra religious social rules for women are from another era. No abortions even in the case of rape or incest . Let's make those women suffer for being abused. This is a man without any empathy for the old, the poor and the unfortunate. Perfect qualifications for a VP. This is a guy who has never had a real job and has lived off the dole of the government. What does he know of real people and their lives and problems? If you don't believe this you have your head buried in the baloney of the Ryan/Romney campaign.
Nice to see Paul Ryan doing what he does best, telling the truth. The Demoncrats keep harping about Romney's tax returns. What's the matter with the Demoncrats, haven't they made enough money with inside trading. Now they want to look at Romney's returns, so they can get a leg up on the populace and make more money using Romney as their information source. I hope Romney never caves in. Don't the people know, he's been investigated by the IRS, FBI, CIA, and hell everybody else who has access to his returns. Let's talk about the economy, jobs, not Romney's returns!
I agree with you John some medicare recipents are already seeing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act but the GOP will not acknowledge that. They can't keep deceiving the public like this they are only going to help the rich.
His mom has blinders on too.
Ryan has got his arms around her. He is about to throw her off the cliff. Bye mom, I will miss ya!!!
Ryan's parent were well off. His mother can do with reduced services. Her son Ryan soon to be President(in her dreams) will take care of her.
It is very telling that Ryan's grade and high school teachers will not voting for him for one simple reason. Ryan has sold his soul to the highest bidder aka Koch Bros.
Ryan, you can hide the truth, but it will come out. I do not want Romney/Ryan experimenting with medicare. I do trust the democrats to fix any social program. They built them and will do their best to keep them alive.
If the election were held today, Obama would win. I wish the election was today.