Ryan appearing with mom to pitch Medicare plan

(CBS News) Paul Ryan is making the case for dramatic changes in Medicare as he campaigns in the pivotal swing state of Florida Saturday.

The Wisconsin congressman and presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee is making that politically perilous argument in one of the largest retirement communities in the nation, "The Villages," in central Florida.

He has called on a very friendly ally to appear with him - his mother.

Ryan released his tax returns Friday, but just for the last two years, following the lead of Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP standard bearer.

The Obama campaign sees that as a political gift, one that enables them to argue that both members of the Republican ticket must have something to hide.

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But Ryan wasn't hiding from an equally tough issue: Medicare.

"We want this debate, we need this debate and we're going to win this debate on Medicare," Ryan vows.

Florida is ground zero for that debate.

Ryan argues the only way to save Medicare is to transform it from a government entitlement into a program that gives recipients government assistance in buying their own health insurance.

It's a risky argument in Florida and other swing states where many seniors are nervous about reforming the expensive but popular Medicare program.

Romney and Ryan have promised their plan will not affect anyone age 55 or older. They also accuse President Obama of cutting Medicare by $716 billion to help pay for health care reform.

But in a new ad, the Obama campaign says those cuts make Medicare more efficient. "Obamacare cracks down on Medicare fraud, waste and abuse, and strengthens guaranteed benefits," the ad says.

The Obama camp also points to a report by the Congressional Budget Office saying that, under Ryan's plan, by the year 2030, most 65-year-olds will be personally responsible for two-thirds of their health care costs.

Ryan has tried to deflect criticism on the Medicare issue by noting that his 78-year-old mother is a Medicare recipient. He'll be using her as Exhibit A for his argument that seniors shouldn't fear changes to Medicare.

To see Chip Reid's report, click on the video in the player above.
  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.