Obama aide: Ryan pick "put some substance on the table"

Eric Fehrnstrom and Stephanie Cutter
CBS

(CBS News) Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his vice presidential running mate was a "big, bold courageous" move, the campaign's senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Sunday on "Face the Nation." Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for President Obama, agreed.

"I definitely think he's a big, bold choice because it really does say something about Mitt Romney," she told CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes. Cutter cited elements of Ryan's House budget proposal as indicative of the types of cuts Romney would make as president, including $2,000 tax hikes for the middle class, reductions in funding for education programs, and Medicare overhaul.

"So that is big, bold, and courageous but I don't think that's the prescription the American people are looking for," Cutter continued. "You know, I heard Eric talk about the type of campaign that we're running compared to the type of campaign that Mitt Romney is running. We'd love to have a substantive debate. As of yesterday, Mitt Romney put some substance on the table. We'd love to talk about it."

Borrowing from the president's signature mantra, Fehrnstrom said by picking Ryan as a running mate, "Mitt Romney has claimed for the Republican ticket the mantle of change." Without committing to a full embrace of the Ryan budget plan, he also defended the proposal, arguing, "Paul Ryan has a budget; Barack Obama has no plan."

"Now we're making a bet that Americans are more interested in a campaign that's waged on real ideas, including entitlement reform and that a campaign, a substantive campaign, conducted on the high ground, is going to trump the type of petty, negative politics that we're hearing from Barack Obama," Fehrnstrom said.

"They're really running a campaign without a conscious," he continued. "If I had to give their campaign playbook a title, I'd call it '50 Shades of Mud.'"

Answering to critics wary of a lack of foreign policy experience in the nation's commander-in-chief, both advisers made the case for their tickets as boasting more than enough qualifications for overseas diplomacy.

Ferhnstrom argued that where Romney boasts solid credentials in the private sector, Ryan "has leaders, governors, generals, members of the military brass calling him for advice and support for their programs" as House Budget Committee chair. "Paul Ryan has the same amount of foreign policy experience that Barack Obama had when he was sworn in as president."

Cutter, pointing to Romney's heavily critiqued trip to the United Kingdom recently as proof that the GOP's presumptive nominee doesn't have what it takes, said "the most important criteria is the person at the top having the judgment on foreign policy that you need in a commander in chief. And I think what we saw just a week and a half ago that Mitt Romney didn't have it.

"...Whether Paul Ryan can help him with that - we'll see," she said.

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    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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