Greer, South Carolina (CNN) – Before Mitt Romney made news by revealing more details about his income taxes, his campaign had hoped to spend the day talking about Medicare.
The presumptive GOP nominee even played professor at a news conference Thursday, jotting down sums on a dry erase board as he continued to press President Obama over changes to the popular government health care program for seniors.
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
"The differences in our Medicare perspective could not be more stark and dramatic," Romney told reporters as he scribbled down information outside an airport in Greer, South Carolina. "As the seniors in America understand what the president's plan is doing to Medicare, they're going to find it unacceptable."
The emphasis on Medicare reform comes as a surprise to some in the chattering political class, as Romney's attacks come after months in which he has tried to keep his focus on jobs and the economy.
But Romney's campaign is aiming to turn Republicans' Medicare reform plan – which Democrats see as a vulnerability – into a strength by taking the offensive against Obama.
"We are the ones that brought up the topic," Romney told reporters when asked if the issue was a distraction from his economic message.
At his press conference, Romney repeated his claim that Obama had cut $716 billion from the Medicare program and said the president would make the program insolvent for future generations.
Those cuts, originally supported by Romney's running mate Paul Ryan, are designed to reduce the money the government doles out to health care providers.
Romney said instead that his plan would partially privatize health care for seniors by offering: "greater competition, having various private plans compete to provide Medicare benefits with the government. I think it will make the government more efficient and the private plans more efficient."
His plan also involves so-called means testing, which takes a recipient's income into account when doling out government funds.
- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.