Race To Define Paul Ryan

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St. Augustine, FL. (CNN) - Mitt Romney did not have his vice presidential pick, Paul Ryan, by his side today.
But the g-o-p contender's new running mate was not far from his mind.
"I'm delighted to have picked as my running mate, Paul Ryan, a great leader."
It's the Paul Ryan effect. The crowds are getting bigger - maybe too big… as Mitt Romney noted.. For his own security measures.
"Looks like we just didn't have enough of those mags to get everybody in time."
But Romney is finding exciting the republican base comes at a price.
The GOP contender must also defend Ryan from attacks on the Wisconsin congressman's controversial budget plan… which calls for a partial privatization of Medicare for future seniors… a tough sell for retirees in Florida.
"The president's idea, for instance, for Medicare was to cut it by $700 billion. That's not the right answer - we want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare."
It was Romney’s first solo event since the two running mates went their separate ways late Sunday… Ryan to Iowa… and Romney to Florida… so they can cover more ground. Their last event together… an emotional homecoming for Ryan in Wisconsin.
"My veins run with cheese, bratwurst, and a little spotted cow, Leiney's and some Miller."
But the Obama campaign offensive to define Ryan has already begun.
"I am told that governor Romney’s new running mate, Paul Ryan might be around Iowa the next few days. He is one of the leaders of congress standing in the way."
The president's re-election team unleashed a new web video featuring seniors in Florida raising questions about the Ryan plan.
"It just doesn't make any sense to cut Medicare… it will be a voucher plan."
The Romney campaign first responded by pointing to the name at the top of the ticket… only to later concede a president Romney would make the Ryan plan the law of the land.
"If the Ryan budget had come to his desk as president, he would have signed it."
A new USA Today/Gallup poll found Americans are split over the Ryan pick, slightly lower than the numbers for Sarah Palin four years ago.
And Ryan’s past statements are only now coming to light.. Whether it's his thoughts on Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan.
"What happens then, only sick people actually have the insurance and what actuaries call this a 'death spiral'."
Or his comments praising controversial author Ayn Rand…a fierce critic of social welfare programs.
"And I think a lot of people would observe we are right now living in an Ayn Rand novel, metaphorically speaking."
Romney warned republicans of what team Obama has in store.
"It's dirt. It's distortion. It's deception. It's dishonesty."
Romney aides are pushing back on the notion they are hiding Ryan from Florida.
They are sending the vice presidential candidate to the Orlando area on Saturday.
Romney and Ryan are expected to continue campaigning separately all the way up to the convention.