Republican vice presidential pick Paul Ryan will have at least one strong supporter among the Florida retirement community he will address on Saturday: his mother Betty.
Ryan will appear at The Villages, the world’s largest retirement community and a conservative stronghold where tens of thousands came out to see Sarah Palin at a rally in 2008, according to ABC News.
The Wisconsin congressman will stay on the offense on Medicare and his mother will help him connect with seniors.
Betty Ryan Douglas, who recently turned 78, lives part time in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a small beachside town in Broward County. A Republican, she has been registered to vote in Florida since 1997, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
She has been described in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as "an outdoors enthusiast who led her husband and four kids on regular trips to hike and ski in the Colorado Rockies." Her second husband, a Navy veteran and insurance executive, died in 2002.
"She is a very nice woman, nice family woman. Very bright, very alert," Rosina Ventre, a neighbor, told the Times.
The Villages is considered friendly territory for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, its residents donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the main super PAC supporting his presidential bid, Restore Our Future, ABC News reported.
Faced with Democratic Party attacks on Ryan's Medicare plan, Republicans have made the political calculation that a counter-attack can preserve support among senior citizens who could sway the November election's outcome. Ryan has proposed to transform Medicare into a program that would give seniors vouchers to manage their own healthcare costs.
Ryan goes into the event with the wind at his back, having closed out a successful first week on the campaign trail by infusing Romney’s campaign with energy and helping the campaign rake in more than $10 million in online fundraising and approximately 124,800 online donations.
At a Catholic college Thursday in Ohio, Ryan said that the Medicare debate is one “we need to have” and one “we are going to win,” before laying into President Barack Obama over the cuts he made to the program to pay for Obamacare, according to ABC News.
“What he probably did not mention yesterday is that when he passed his signature health care achievement Obamacare he raided $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare,” Ryan said at a Walsh University campaign stop, according to ABC News. “This will lead to fewer services for seniors. President Obama’s campaign calls this an achievement. You think raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare? Neither do I.”
Ryan said he and Romney will “protect and strengthen Medicare, leave it intact for our current seniors and save it for the next generation.”
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