(CBS News) Mitt Romney picked his running mate on Saturday and we may look back and say that was the day when the general election really began.
In choosing young Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Romney has picked a budget expert whose plan to put the nation on a sound financial footing includes deep cuts in social programs and a reform of Medicare, and that transforms the race.
It is no longer just a campaign about negative TV ads; it becomes a debate over two very different visions for the future.
Romney and Ryan sat down with CBS News for a "" interview (watch the original broadcast below) in Highpoint, N.C., their first interview since Romney announced his running mate.
BOB SCHIEFFER: There's no question your campaign has been trying to make this election a referendum on Barack Obama. Now, some people are saying you are making it a referendum on Paul Ryan's budget.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I have my budget plan as you know that I've put out. And that's the budget plan that we're going to run on. At the same time, we have the record of President Obama. If people think, by the way, if their utility bill has gone down, they should vote for him. If they think jobs are more plentiful, they should vote for him.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I have to tell you the Miami Herald has a banner headline across the front of it this morning that says, "Ryan could hurt in Florida." Because they're talking about Medicare and what you're talking about the... cuts.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, think-- think about that, by the way. There's only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare. Think of that. What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it's there for current seniors. No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement. But looking for young people down the road and saying, "We're going to give you a bigger choice." In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices. That's how we make Medicare work down the road.
SCHIEFFER: You're going to have to see-- you're going to have to do a little selling.
PAUL RYAN: My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida. Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they've organized their retirements around. In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms. That have bipartisan origins. They started from the Clinton commission in the late '90s. And so, in order to make that promise for those current seniors, like my mom who was a Florida senior, we need to reform it for the next generation. I think that's a far better place to be for Florida seniors, for seniors period, versus President Obama's law, which raids the program and puts a new board of unelected bureaucrats in charge of price controlling, which will lead to rationing, we believe.
(EDITORS NOTE: When Romney spoke of President Obama robbing Medicare of some $700 billion, he was apparently referring to programs that offered subsidies to insurance companies that allowed the companies to offer additional benefits to some Medicare recipients. The Obama campaign disputes Romney's assertion. They say the new health care law will provide more benefits.)
Watch the original "" broadcast of Romney and Ryan's first interview after the VP announcement below