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Republicans, Democrats scramble to frame Paul Ryan’s political persona

With Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP now has a full presidential ticket. Bold move or potential disaster for Americans? Republicans and Democrats try to shape Ryan's image to their own advantage.

By Staff writer / August 12, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice presidential running mate Rep. Paul Ryan arrive at a campaign rally Sunday in Mooresville, N.C. at the NASCAR Technical Institute.

Jason E. Miczek/AP

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On the Sunday TV talk shows, topic number one was Paul Ryan.

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No surprise there. The GOP’s newly-selected vice presidential nominee is the biggest campaign news since Mitt Romney nailed down the top spot on the ticket.

The two camps – Romney’s and President Obama’s – immediately set to work framing Rep. Ryan, the Wisconsin lawmaker best know for a budget plan that’s excited conservatives and left many liberals apoplectic.

Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod says Ryan is a "right wing ideologue" who wants to convert Medicare into a voucher plan, putting the program for the elderly in "a death spiral."

"It is a pick that is meant to thrill the most strident voices in the Republican Party, but it's one that should trouble everybody else – the middle class, seniors, students," Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union."

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Over on “Fox News Sunday,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) of Florida, who also chairs the Democratic National Committee, weighed in similarly.

“As a member of the Budget Committee myself [which Rep. Ryan chairs], I've had a front row seat to witness the architect of the Romney-Ryan budget,” Rep. Wasserman Schultz said. “It suggests that we should end Medicare as we know it, shred the safety net for seniors in health care that we had in place for more than 50 years, turn Medicare into a block grants and send it to the states, which would really jeopardize seniors in nursing homes, potentially take 10 million students off of Pell Grants, cut health care, cut education.”

Also speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. John McCain batted back Democratic charges that Republicans – and specifically, the Ryan budget plan – aim to “to push grandma over the cliff.”

“They have not had a plan yet to save Social Security and Medicare, and they've had nearly four years to do it,” Sen. McCain said. “Paul Ryan has taken the courageous steps to bring this issue to the forefront. And under a Romney-Ryan administration, you will see it addressed. Not like this last administration – which has done nothing. They haven't even passed a budget through the Senate of the United States of America in three years.”

Governor Scott Walker, Ryan’s fellow Wisconsin Republican, sought to assure voters that any changes to Social Security and Medicare will improve those programs’ financial viability without unduly harming recipients – hinting as well that Romney doesn’t necessarily agree with everything in the Ryan plan.

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