Ever since GOP House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan unveiled a plan to, among other things, voucherize Medicare, Democrats have been practically gloating about the opening Ryan created. One by one the 2012 GOP presidential candidates are being asked whether they endorse Ryan’s plan, praised as courageous by many conservatives, in part, because it’s such a political risk to suggest meddling in the most popular social program ever created in America. There’s no question Newt Gingrich bungled his answer about Ryan’s plan on Meet the Press last weekend—and in the week since. Jon Huntsman, seen as the strongest moderate in the existing GOP 2012 field, provided a much smoother answer today. And if there as any question about whether the Ryan budget would be a litmus test for GOP presidential candidates, Huntsman seemed to make it clear that the plan is indeed something candidates need to get behind to retain support heading into the primary season. Here’s Huntman talking to ABC News:
George Stephanopoulos: How about Congressman Paul Ryan and (the) budget? Former Speaker Gingrich had some trouble talking about that this week. If you were in Congress, would you have voted for it?
Jon Huntsman: I would’ve voted for it.
George Stephanopoulos: Including the Medicare provisions?
Jon Huntsman: Including the Medicare provisions. Because the only thing that scares me more than that is the trajectory that our debt is taking. And the trajectory that our debt is taking now beyond $14 trillion is going to have an impact on our currency. It goes south, and our currency’s going to have an impact on our standard of living and affect every family in this country, and over time, our international competitiveness. So what is really scary I think to me and I think most Americans is our debt. And we’ve got to be bold, and we’ve got to have, I think, proposals on the table that perhaps in years past would’ve been laughed out of the room. And we’ve got to look seriously at them. We don’t have a choice. We’ve hit the wall.
Also today, a Democratic PAC unveiled a television ad attacking Mitt Romney for it as yet unclear stance on Ryan’s plan, hitting the 2012 GOP frontrunner for his flip-flopping past and suggesting he needs to clarify how he feels about Medicare. The ad will run tomorrow in South Carolina, as Romney makes a visit to the state, according to the Boston Globe.