Within minutes of physically embracing his new running mate Paul Ryan on a Norfolk, Va., stage, Mitt Romney was distancing himself from Ryan’s controversial House budget proposal.
From Romney campaign talking points, distributed to reporters after Romney’s first appearance with his VP pick (emphasis added):
Does this mean Mitt Romney is adopting the Paul Ryan plan?
• Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.
• Romney’s administration will go through the budget line by line and ask two questions: Can we afford it? And, if not, should we borrow money from China to pay for it?
• Mitt Romney will start with the easiest cut of all: Obamacare, a trillion-dollar entitlement we don’t want and can’t afford.
The Ryan budget is the reason why both conservative Republicans and Democrats are over the moon at the Ryan pick. Conservatives think the pair of tough budget packages written for the House GOP by Ryan since 2011 mean Romney is ready to run on potentially unpopular cuts to government programs in the name of fiscal responsibility. Democrats see the Ryan pick as a chance to return to the fight over Medicare cuts they used to great success last year.
But Romney appears to be reminding his party who’s boss, despite having selected conservatives’ dream candidate, cautioning that Ryan’s spot on the ticket doesn’t mean Romney is obligated to accept Ryan’s budget plan in its entirety.
The Obama campaign responds:
Romney has strongly endorsed the Romney-Ryan Budget throughout his campaign - turning time and time again to the same tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans on the backs of middle-class families as Paul Ryan has championed in Congress. The Romney-Ryan Budget would turn Medicare into a voucher program, make severe cuts to programs like education that would hamper job creation, and repeal health care reform and key protections in Wall Street reform - all to pay for massive tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
Paul Ryan is the perfect pick to implement Mitt Romney’s agenda, since they are one and the same.