(CNN) — A day after Mitt Romney named Rep. Paul Ryan his running mate, the Democratic attack line on the newly minted Republican ticket centered on Ryan’s budget proposal and his conservative stance on social issues.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” President Barack Obama’s senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said the president felt Ryan, while ‘genial,’ would drive Medicare, the government-run health care program for seniors, into the ground.
“I think he thinks he’s a perfectly genial and bright guy, he just thinks his theory is wrong,” Axelrod told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “Congressman Ryan is a right wing ideologue, and that’s reflected in the positions he’s taken.
Axelrod went on to list points of Ryan’s House GOP budget proposal – which Obama himself called “thinly veiled social Darwinism” at a luncheon in April – that he claimed were on the extreme end of the political spectrum.
The $3.5 trillion Ryan budget plan seeks to stem ballooning federal debt and deficit by slashing spending and reforming Medicare and Medicaid. The House GOP plan also calls for a reduction in individual tax rates and brackets. Instead of today’s six brackets, with rates from 10% to 35%, it calls for just two — 10% and 25%. The proposal would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, while dropping the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.
“He’s quite extreme. A good person, a genial person, but his views are quite harsh,” Axelrod said.
Obama’s adviser said the president had already taken steps to ensure Medicare would remain fiscally sound, despite an influx of retirees signing up for benefits, including by eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse” from the system and promoting “better delivery of care.”
“These are the ways to save Medicare, not by a Trojan horse that will ultimately spell its demise,” Axelrod said.
The choice of Ryan, which Romney unveiled Saturday at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia, wouldn’t ultimately make much of a difference in the race for the White House, Axelrod predicted.
“I think it’s helped further define the race, I don’t think its shaken up the race because Gov. Romney has embraced many of the positions Congressman Ryan espouses, as extreme as they sound,” he said.
The two Republicans, Axelrod asserted, held similar positions on issues that many Americans find extreme.
“I think they are kindred spirits on some of these policies, and certainly on these social issues they have come together banning abortion and so on, but I don’t think these are mainstream positions in the country,” Axelrod said.