President Obama's senior campaign adviser led the attack on Mitt Romney's choice for a running mate on Sunday morning, calling Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan a "right wing ideologue" who was chosen "to thrill the most strident voices in the Republican Party."
David Axelrod said Ryan is the "intellectual energy" behind a right-wing budget plan that would "end Medicare as we know it," slash federal student loan and research programs and "lavish millions of dollars of tax cuts, most of them on the wealthy." He said Ryan is "outside the mainstream" on abortion rights, and reminded viewers of the ABC News This Week show that the congressman was the architect of a proposal to privatize Social Security that was "so out there" that even Republicans deserted him.
Axelrod said that the Obama campaign was happy with Romney's choice. "I think it helps voters clarify what this choice is all about," he said.
"The tea party is excited, the social conservatives are excited" and "it will help the governor have a more convivial convention," Axelrod said. But "throwing seniors onto the tender mercies of the private insurance market" and putting Medicare "in a death spiral" will prove toxic in the general election.
Tim Pawlenty, the former Republican presidential candidate and governor of Minnesota who was likely among those considered by Romney as a running mate, defended Romney's choice.
The American people know the country is in a fiscal fix, and that popular programs like Medicare "are not going to be available at all if we don't have some reform," he said. The voters will respect Ryan's courage in putting out "a plan that actually tackles the problem," Pawlenty said.
As for Obama, "all he does is duck and bob and weave," Pawlenty said. "That is not leadership."
At one point in the show, Axelrod apologized to Pawlenty for suggesting, in an interview with National Journal's Major Garrett, that Pawlenty would be the strongest vice presidential candidate for Romney to choose. Pawlenty thanked the Democrat for the compliment, but said that when he heard the news, "I was thinking of that old phrase: 'Get off my side.'"
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