Only a few minutes after several news organizations confirmed that Mitt Romney had picked Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., as his vice presidential nominee, I got the following message from a Democratic operative: "does (Matt Doheny) support his presidential candidate's budget?"
The short answer to that question is no: Mr. Doheny, who is running Nov. 6 against Democratic Rep. Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, said he wouldn't vote for the Ryan plan because it doesn't balance the budget quickly enough.
But on a broader level, the question illustrated the fact that Democrats see opportunities, at least on the local level, with the pick. Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul won a historically Republican Western New York district by relentlessly tying her opponent, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, to the Ryan plan.
Will the attacks have the same potency this year? Time will tell.
The Owens campaign is already placing its bet. So far in the race, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has done most of the attacking dirty work. Not this morning.
“With Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee, Doheny is going to have to answer the question- does he stand with the Paul Ryan, or does he want to gut Medicare even more?” Owens campaign manager James Hannaway said in a news release.
Some analysts have warned against underestimating Mr. Ryan's political skills. He did give a solid speech today.
"My dad died when I was young. He was a good and decent man. I still remember a couple of things he would say that have really stuck with me. 'Son you are either part of the problem or part of the solution,'" Mr. Ryan said. "Regrettably, President Obama has become part of the problem,...and Mitt Romney is the solution."
Mr. Doheny fires back in an emailed statement:
"America is facing twin challenges of growth and debt. We need a plan that will encourage job growth in the north country, Adirondacks and Capital District.
"For the past two years, we've tried it Bill Owens' way. The result? There are more than 5,200 people unemployed now in his district than there were when he started. And our national debt has jumped almost $4 trillion during the same time period.
"Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are ready to take on these challenges. Like me, they understand that the cost of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and debt service will exceed total federal revenues in a little more than a decade. These programs are going bankrupt and we need real leadership to address these problems. All the Obama-Owens team has offered is scare tactics, while cutting Medicare by more than $500 billion so that government could regulate more of your health care."
While that last sentence isn't exactly "Get your government hands off my Medicare," but it's an interesting formulation; Medicare, of course, is a government program.
And the Ryan budget proposes keeping the $500 billion in future Medicare spending reductions that were in Obamacare — though Mr. Ryan has said that it's different, because his reductions in future Medicare spending will help keep the program solvent while Mr. Obama's reductions in future Medicare spending will help fund his new health-care law.