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Paul Ryan Helps Define the Presidential Race, Both Parties Say

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

If there's one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on, it's that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate will help create a clear contrast for voters in November.

And they both think that distinction will help their side win the election.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said today on CNN's "State of the Union" that in choosing the Wisconsin lawmaker, Romney is now making the campaign "about big issues and contrasting views for this country."

David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Barack Obama's campaign, agreed, saying on CNN that the choice of someone he described as a "right-wing ideologue" has "helped further define the race."

Indeed, the Sunday news talk shows today were not just dominated by reaction to Ryan as a potential vice president, but also by conversation about the House Budget chairman's controversial budget blueprint and, more specifically, his plans to overhaul Medicare.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus today contrasted the Ryan budget with Obama's signature health care law.

Priebus challenged questions on the political liability of Ryan's Medicare plan, to turn the social program into a voucher-like system by 2020, by calling out the Democrats for dismantling it "to fund Obamacare."

"This president stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. If any person has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it's Barack Obama," Priebus said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Democrats, however, have noted that most of that $700 billion in savings does not come from beneficiaries but rather through reductions in aid to hospitals, an expansion of a competitive bidding program for medical equipment and pay cuts to private insurers under Medicare advantage.

Still, Priebus articulated what many Republicans have been saying since the Ryan announcement Saturday, that Ryan brings substance to a campaign that has largely been dominated by small-bore attacks on each candidate.

"This is a blessing to our country that we have people that are willing to have tough, serious debates about these issues as opposed to a president who does a lot of talking - he loves the sound of his voice - but he not only offers nothing, he makes everything worse," said the RNC chairman, also from Ryan's home state of Wisconsin.

Similarly, Democrats welcomed the debate over Ryan's Medicare plan.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz argued on "Fox News Sunday' that the Ryan pick was dangerous. If Romney defeats Obama in November, the Florida congresswoman said, he and Ryan could pursue implementation of a budget that would threaten senior citizens' ability to obtain and pay for health care.

Ryan's budget proposals for Medicare would be tantamount to letting aging Americans and their families "fall right through the floor," Wasserman Schultz said.

In choosing Ryan, Romney "has embraced an extremist proposal that ... goes too far," she said.

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