“I had a feeling there would be mixed reaction so let me get into it,” the Republican vice presidential nominee said, after his first line about repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law was met with audible boos throughout the large convention room floor.
The reception toward Mitt Romney’s running mate improved but remained tepid even when he used his mother Betty Ryan Douglas, who was sitting in the front row with her older son Tobin, as an example of his commitment to protecting the entitlement program for seniors in or near retirement.
“I’m very proud of my mom, and I’m happy she is having a great retirement, Medicare is a big part of her security,” Ryan said of his 78-year-old mother and retiree who lives part-time in Florida.
“Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my mom’s generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours,” he added.
Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin, attended the AARP Life@50+ conference on Friday shortly after Obama addressed the group via satellite. Members of AARP – a nonprofit organization and a powerful lobbying group that boasts of having more than 37 million members – could submit questions to the nominees on their website.
As both campaigns make their appeals to the crucial senior demographic and make the case for ensuring long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security, the House Budget Committee chairman accused the Democratic president of putting politics before policy.
“Inaction today will mean sharp cuts tomorrow. Time and again this President has ducked the tough issues, he has put his own job security over your retirement security,” continued Ryan, despite a smattering of boos coming from the audience. “Of course, he said he would be willing to work with Republicans but he has not moved an inch closer to common ground.”
In addition to repealing The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, Ryan said the Republican team is proposing a plan that “empowers future seniors to choose the coverage that works best for them from a list of plans that are required to offer at least the same level of benefits as traditional Medicare.”
“This financial support system is designed to guarantee that seniors can always afford Medicare coverage – no exceptions,” he added. “Our idea is to force insurance companies to compete against each other to better serve seniors, with more help for the poor and the sick – and less help for the wealthy.”
The Wisconsin lawmaker praised the reform work in Medicare Part D, the program for prescription drugs, and touted their efforts to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats.
“And by the way, these aren’t just Republican ideas. Medicare reforms based on choice and competition go back to the Clinton administration. Experts from both parties helped form this plan. Democrats in Congress have supported these ideas,” said Ryan.
Seated in the front row, just a few seats away from Ryan’s mother and brother, were a few women who, like many others in the convention hall, made comments throughout his speech Paula Tillman who was visiting from Washington, D.C. was unaware she was sitting so close to family members of the vice presidential hopeful, but she said if she had known they were there she would have made the same comments that included “Obama ’12” and “that’s a lie.”