By STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press
WARREN, Ohio (AP) — Republican vice presidential contender Paul Ryan says he never would have included a $700 billion Medicare cut in his budget if President Barack Obama hadn't done it first.
"He put those cuts there," Ryan said Thursday, responding to a reporter's question while eating a hot dog in a restaurant. "We would never have done it in the first place."
Medicare, the health care program for tens of millions of seniors, has become a key issue in the race for the White House.
The Wisconsin congressman is perhaps best known for authoring a controversial budget plan that would transform Medicare into a voucher-like system. He and Romney say the change is needed to preserve the popular program for future generations.
The Republican candidates have launched a new strategy recently to criticize Obama for taking more than $700 billion in Medicare funds to help pay for his health care overhaul.
"The president was talking about Medicare yesterday. I'm excited about this," Ryan said during a morning campaign stop in North Canton. "This is a debate we want to have, this is a debate we need to have and this is a debate we're going to win."
But Ryan did not mention that his own budget proposal included the same cut. A reporter pressed him on the issue during an impromptu stop at a local hot dog restaurant.
Ryan pointed out that he voted to repeal the president's health care law, which would have repealed the Medicare cut. The Senate did not take up the bill.
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