THE VILLAGES, Fla. -- Campaigning with his retired mother at his side, Congressman Paul Ryan made the Romney-Ryan ticket pitch for fixing Medicare Saturday morning before thousands at the world's largest senior citizens community.
“Like a lot of Americans, when I think about Medicare it's not just a program, it's not just a bunch of numbers, it's what my mom relies on, it's what my grandma had,” Ryan said in his most detailed campaign speech yet. “Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma, when we needed it then; and Medicare is there for my mom while she needs it now, and we have to keep that guarantee.”
In a very personal appeal to the crowd that started with Ryan walking hand-and-hand with his 78-year-old mother, Betty Douglas, he promised to make sure “bureaucrats will not mess with my mom’s healthcare or your mom’s healthcare.”
The presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee also assured the crowd at The Villages the Romney-Ryan plan will not affect those already in retirement.
“Our solution to preserve, protect, and save Medicare does not affect your benefits. Let me repeat that. Our plan does not affect the benefits for people who are in or near retirement. It’s a promise that was made and it’s a promise that must be kept,” he said, with a large “protect & strengthen Medicare” sign behind him. “To save it for this generation, you have to reform it for my generation so it doesn’t go bankrupt when we retire.”
The Chairman of the House Budget Committee, speaking in the state with the highest concentration of voters over 65 in the country, had harsh words for President Barack Obama, as well.
“Here is what the president won’t tell you about his Medicare plan—about Obamacare. The president raids $716 billion from the Medicare program to pay for the Obamacare program,” Ryan told the crowd in the battleground state that went for Obama in the 2008 election. “Medicare should not be used as a piggy bank for Obamacare. Medicare should be used to be the promise that it made to our current seniors. Period. End of Story.”
Saturday’s rally marks Ryan’s first visit to Florida since being tapped as Mitt Romney’s VP exactly a week ago. The presumptive GOP VP’s plan to overhaul Medicare has been the focus of both Democrats' and the Obama campaign's attacks since he was selected.
Several thousand retirees turned out in one of The Villages’ town squares not only to hear the seven-term Wisconsin congressman speak but were also able to enjoy the sounds of Lee Greenwood, who sang “Proud to be an American” on stage just before Ryan and his mom walked up.
While Ryan focused on outlining the Medicare plan under a Romney administration in Florida, Mitt Romney was holding six private fundraisers in New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.