NEW ORLEANS — GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare returned to the political spotlight Friday as both presidential campaigns jabbed each other during a summit of the AARP, the country’s top advocacy group for seniors.
Both Ryan, who addressed the group in person, and President Obama, who spoke before Ryan via a video feed from Woodbridge, Va., accused the other side of advancing ideas that would undermine and destroy the popular health care program for seniors and the disabled.
“I don’t consider this approach bold or particularly courageous,’’ Obama said of Ryan’s Medicare overhaul proposal ‘‘I just think it’s a bad idea. No American should spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.’’
Obama defended himself against the allegation that his administration ‘‘somehow took $716 billion and robbed it from Medicare beneficiaries’’ as part of the 2010 health care law that is the president’s signature legislative and policy achievement. Ryan and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney regularly argue that the Obama law would harm the program by removing that money.
When Ryan took the stage and addressed the audience of several thousand people less than an hour later, he returned the fire.
‘‘You know President Obama’s slogan, right?’’ Ryan asked the audience. “ ‘Forward’ — forward into a future where seniors are denied the care they earned because a bureaucrat decided it wasn’t worth the money.’’
As he did at an event at a Florida retirement community last month, Ryan attacked the president’s plan in great detail, and pitched his plan in personal terms with fewer specifics, noting that his 78-year-old mother was in attendance at the event.
Many in the audience booed Ryan, particularly when he vowed to repeal Obama’s health care law. Several attendees yelled ‘‘Liar!’’ and ‘‘No vouchers!’’ during his speech.
At one point, when Ryan told the crowd that ‘‘all that we need now is leaders who have the political will to save and strengthen Social Security,’’ one man quipped: ‘‘Got one!’’
A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll last month showed that 58 percent of all adults support allowing Medicare to continue as it is today, while 36 percent support a plan that would make the changes Ryan has advocated.
Stumping in N.H., Biden blasts Romney ‘47%’ comment
HANOVER, N.H. — Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that GOP nominee Mitt Romney was ‘‘profoundly wrong’’ in saying 47 percent of Americans see themselves as victims dependent on government to take care of them.
It was the first time Biden had publicly responded to comments Romney made on a hidden camera video released this week, and he did so in his classic fiery style.
Speaking at Dartmouth College, Biden angrily recited a list of people he accused Romney of writing off, from widows living on Social Security to veterans receiving government health care. In a nod to the mostly student crowd, his voice built to a shout when he got to the millions of college students receiving federal grants.
When the audience booed, Biden said, ‘‘I don’t need your boos. I need your help.’’
In the video recorded in May and published this week on the Mother Jones website, Romney said that his job as a candidate is not to worry about the 47 percent of Americans whom he said pay no income taxes and see themselves as victims. Biden contrasted Romney’s comments with what he described as the Obama campaign’s fundamental philosophy that hard work and responsibility will be rewarded, that everyone plays by the same rules and that everyone gets an opportunity to improve their lives.
‘‘We don’t think people who reject responsibility should be given opportunities again, we think they’ve made a choice,’’ Biden said. But he argued that the vast majority of people Romney referred to do take responsibility.
Responding to Biden’s remarks, Romney spokesman Ryan Williams repeated Romney’s comment that he will be ‘‘a president for 100 percent of Americans.’’
Biden also was speaking at rallies Friday evening in Concord and Saturday in Merrimack.
Former Reebok chief to host pricey Romney fund-raiser
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are coming to Chestnut Hill next week for a reception at the home of former Reebok chief executive Paul Fireman, followed by a $75,000-a-plate dinner at the home of New England Patriots president Jonathan Kraft.
An invitation obtained by the Globe shows the reception at the Firemans’ home costs $2,500 per person, and a “VIP reception” with Ryan costs $50,000 a person. No details are provided on the invitation for the “Victory Dinner” at the Krafts’ home immediately following. “Details available upon contribution,” says the invitation, which lists the suggested contribution as $75,000.
Kraft, a son of Patriots owner Bob Kraft, started his career at Bain & Co., where Romney previously worked. The event hosts also include Staples Inc. founder Tom Stemberg, Bain Capital managing director Paul Edgerley, and Robert A. Maginn Jr., another Bain & Co. alum who is now chairman of the state’s Republican Party.