J Pat Carter, Associated Press
DENVER — The newly shaped Republican presidential ticket is fighting growing pains amid charges from President Barack Obama's re-election team that challenger Mitt Romney favors his new running mate's plans to overhaul Medicare, cut trillions of dollars from social programs and lower taxes on high income taxpayers.
The debate moved across five swing states as both campaigns operate at full strength for a second day.
Romney was spending Tuesday in Ohio on the final day of his multistate bus tour, having dispatched his vice presidential pick, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, to court voters and donors in Colorado and Nevada. For all the advantages of having a running mate to share the workload, the Republicans are working through the challenge of planning double the events, coordinating messaging on the road, handling new security stresses and simply getting to know each other.
All the while, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are linking Romney to Ryan's House Republican budget proposals, which could affect millions of Americans — seniors in particular — if enacted.
Biden kept up his criticism of the Republican ticket Tuesday, telling supporters in rural southern Virginia that Romney and Ryan are "good men but they have fundamentally flawed judgment."
Obama was holding events in Iowa, the second day of a three-day bus tour across that highly competitive Midwestern state.
Two days after formally selecting Ryan to complete the GOP ticket, Romney publicly praised his running mate's work as necessary to protect the long-term survival of Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for the elderly.
Ryan has "come up with ideas that are very different than the president's," Romney said in Florida, the state with the highest percentage of residents age 65 and over. "The president's idea for Medicare was to cut it by $700 billion. That's not the right answer. We want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare."
Romney did not say so, but the plans Ryan produced in the past two years as chairman of the House Budget Committee retain the $700 billion in Medicare cuts even as they call for repealing Obama's health care plan. Romney said there may be differences between his own budget plan and Ryan's, but refused to detail them. Romney's staff said the former Massachusetts governor favored a plan to restore the $700 billion in cuts.
Looking to move past questions about Medicare, both Romney and Ryan are expected to focus on energy Tuesday. Romney will address what he's calling the Obama administration's "war on coal," according to his campaign. Ryan plans to promote Romney's "all-of-the-above" energy approach in Colorado. Once he moves to Nevada later in the day, Ryan will also highlight the president's response to the state's foreclosure problems.
Little more than 80 days remain in a campaign dominated by a weak economic recovery and a national jobless rate of 8.3 percent. Polls taken before Romney added Ryan to his ticket showed Obama with a slender advantage in a contest that will be decided in eight to 10 battleground states.
Romney planned three events across Ohio, starting in the eastern part of the state and continuing westward.
He will focus on coal in the area of the state near the West Virginia border. Obama's administration has pushed ahead with regulations on new power plants, making it harder to build new coal-fired plants. That's hurt places like Beallsville, where Romney will appear at the American Energy Corp.
Romney planned to appear in Ohio with Republican Sen. Rob Portman, whom Romney considered as a possible vice presidential running mate.
Ohio is likely the most difficult to win of the four must-win states Romney toured by bus; he also visited North Carolina, Virginia and Florida. But as Ryan visits other battlegrounds more than 1,000 miles away, Romney's team has showed some signs of the strain:
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