Paul Ryan, Medicare, And The New Shape Of The White House Race — Here's What You Missed This Weekend

Paul Ryan Mitt Romney

Photo: Getty

Welcome back to Politics In 60 Seconds! Given the big news this weekend, we decided on holding off on a news wrap-up until after the first wave of excitement died down. We’ll be back again Friday with another weekly round-up. 

Now on to the news…

In case you were stranded on a desert island/under a rock this weekend, Mitt Romney named House Budget Chair Paul Ryan as his running mate, injecting a shot of life to what has so far been a relatively grim campaign. The Wisconsin Congressman made his debut in Virginia Saturday morning, giving an impassioned and articulate speech that laid out the new message of the Romney campaign: “It doesn’t have to be this way.” 

Nearly everyone agrees that the pick was a bold move from the typically risk-averse Romney, and conservatives finally appear to be coalescing behind their ticket. Ryan, the architect of GOP’s debt-slashing budget, has long been a darling of the conservative intelligentsia, and there is a general hope that his entry into the race will shift the conversation away from tax returns and Bain Capital to ideological principles. 

Liberals are just as excited about Romney’s choice. Democrats had already planned on trying to make the 2012 election about Ryan’s budget proposals, and the addition of Ryan to the ballot opens up a fresh opportunity to ramp up this line of attack against Republicans down the ticket. So far, the Obama campaign has led the assault against the Republican V.P. candidate, with senior strategist David Axelrod accusing Ryan of being a “right-wing ideologue” who wants to destroy Medicare. 

And now that the initial flush of excitement about Ryan has died down, the knives are starting to come out to cut away the seven-term congressman’s record, in particular his plan to overhaul Medicare. Romney is already trying to distance himself from Ryan’s budget, but there is no way Democrats will let him get off that easy.  

Here’s what’s coming up this week: 

The big question for this week is who wins the race to define Ryan. The GOP Golden Boy is still mostly unknown to rank-and-file voters, so the next five days will be crucial to creating the narrative around the Wisconsin Congressman. 

Mitt Romney returns to his swing state bus tour today, sans running mate. He’s campaigning in Florida, testing the waters with baby boomer and senior voters who could get spooked by Ryan’s plans for entitlement reform. The visit lays the groundwork for Ryan’s own trip to the Sunshine State, scheduled for later  this week. 

Ryan makes his first solo campaign stop in Iowa, where he will compete with air with Obama, who kicks off a three-day swing through the state this afternoon. Incidentally, Ryan will speak from the same Iowa State Fair soapbox where Romney made his now-infamous “corporations are people, my friend” comment.

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