COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Led by President Barack Obama, Democrats claimed on Monday that Republican challenger Mitt Romney privately backs plans to overhaul Medicare and cut trillions from social programs that his new vice presidential running mate has publicly proposed, but offered no proof.
Rep. Paul Ryan "has given definition to the vague commitments that Romney has been making," Vice President Joe Biden said as the Democrats introduced the Wisconsin lawmaker to their tactics in the race with a barrage of attacks. "There is no distinction" between the two, he said.
Romney lauded his running mate's work as he resumed his own four-day bus trip through campaign battleground states.
Ryan has "come up with ideas that are very different than the president's," Romney said in Florida, the state with the highest percentage of residents age 65 and over.
"The president's idea for Medicare was to cut it by $700 billion. That's not the right answer. We want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare," he said.
The former Massachusetts governor did not say so, but the tax-and-spending plans Ryan produced in the past two years as chairman of the House Budget Committee call for the repeal of Obama's health care plan but also would retain the $700 billion in Medicare cuts that were part of it.
Romney said there may be differences between his own budget plan and Ryan's, but he refused to say what specific policies his budget would include that would differ from the Wisconsin congressman's detailed proposal.
Aides said during the day that Romney has long disagreed with that specific element of the House Republican plan, and they said while he wants to repeal the health care law he also wants to restore the funds to Medicare.