Nightly News | August 13, 2012
>>> ryan's first solo day on the campaign trail was greeted by those hecklers over his plans to remake medicare . it's an emotional issue that has brought attacks and counterattacks during every presidential race since easily the early '90s. here it comes again. our report tonight from our chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd .
>> reporter: in the 48 hours since paul ryan joined the republican ticket medicare has become a campaign flash point. not just with hecklers but party leaders, too.
>> paul ryan embraced extremism, suggests we should end medicare as we know it.
>> if any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to medicare , it's barack obama .
>> reporter: ryan is the architect of a sweeping medicare reform plan. instead of a government insurance guarantee for health care coverage, ryan 's plan calls for the government to give seniors money to buy their own insurance. the president has been attacking ryan 's plan for months.
>> he plans to turn medicare into a voucher program.
>> reporter: for now the republicans are pushing back by attacking the president for what they say were his cuts to medicare in 2010 to pay for his health care overhaul.
>> the president's idea for instance for medicare was to cut it by $700 billion.
>> reporter: but medicare was never cut. the cost of the program continues to rise, just at a slower pace. when it comes to the politics of medicare , the first victim is nuance. in 1996 , the shoe was on the other foot. republicans proposed slowing medicare 's growth. bill clinton called that a cut.
>> against medicare again. dole/gingrich tried to cut $270 billion. bob dole . wrong in the past.
>> reporter: in 2010 republicans turned the tables on democrats. this year the ryan medicare plan is already drawing fire in senate races. in north dakota democrats are attacking a house republican who voted for ryan 's plan.
>> rick berg , who is doing things the washington way, voting to essentially end medicare .
>> reporter: in montana the republican candidate is actually trying to distance himself from ryan .
>> and rehberg refused to support a republican budget plan that could harm the medicare program.
>> reporter: as for romney, who has voiced support for ryan 's plan, he distanced himself from it last night.
>> well, i have my budget plan and that's the budget plan that we're going to run on.
>> reporter: brian, the romney campaign is most concerned about the impact of the medicare issue in florida of course, not just an important battleground but the battleground state with the largest share of voters over the age of 65. brian, ryan gets his first test of defending his plan in florida when he comes there alone campaigning this weekend.
>> chuck todd rounding out our political coverage from d.c. tonight. chuck, thanks.