Paul Ryan may have pumped new life into Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, but he also seems to have inspired Democrats running for Congress in the Hudson Valley, including Sean Patrick Maloney, who is hoping to unseat Rep. Nan Hayworth.
Since Ryan was named Romney's running mate on Saturday, Maloney's campaign has been blasting away at Ryan's controversial proposal to reduce the nearly $16 trillion federal debt by slashing entitlement programs, a hot topic in Washington last year.
"Romney, Ryan and Hayworth are trying to end Medicare and pass the costs on to seniors -- all to pay for huge new tax giveaways for millionaires like themselves," Maloney said in one broadside. "Now that Ryan has been added to the ticket, Hayworth's Tea Party ideology has officially taken over the Republican Party."
Hayworth, who describes Ryan a "close friend and mentor," said Monday that she remains unwavering in her support for the Wisconsin congressman's debt reduction plan. She brushed off Maloney's argument that it would hurt senior citizens.
"It was a common-sense and compassionate plan that cared for the obligations we have for important federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security," Hayworth said of the Ryan budget plan. "This wasn't about partisanship."
Hayworth said the Romney-Ryan ticket will give voters a "clear choice" between two competing visions for the country.
"With Congressman Ryan on the ticket, every House Republican and candidate nationwide will have to explain their support for the radical Romney-Ryan budget that hits seniors, families and the middle class in the pocketbook, while lavishing tax breaks on the big corporations and the wealthiest among us," said Alixandria Lapp, executive director of the House Majority PAC, a group created by Democratic strategists to counter conservative Super PAC organizations.
Veteran Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who voted against Ryan's budget proposal in the House, quickly joined the attacks on Ryan, emphasizing linkage between Ryan and her Republican challenger, Joe Carvin.
Lowey's campaign issued a statement saying Ryan's budget was "wrong for New York's middle class and working families" and called out Carvin for referring to Ryan as a "hero" in a recent talk-radio interview.
"Joe Carvin, my opponent, must explain to Westchester and Rockland County voters his support for a plan that would end Medicare as we know it and shift more of the burden on middle-class and working Americans," Lowey said.
In response, Carvin's campaign criticized Lowey for her vote in favor of President Barack Obama's health care act -- arguing that it has added to the burden on Medicare programs -- and clarifying his views on Ryan's debt reduction efforts.
"America's debt crisis has turned into a jobs crisis, and we need leaders in Congress with the guts to do what's necessary to get this economy moving again and to save our social safety net for the next generation," Carvin said in a statement. "Congressman Ryan has been a brave voice for these reforms. I may not agree with him on every line in his budget, but I agree with him 100 percent on the need for bold action to move this country forward."
"I think this is definitely a shot in the arm for the Romney team," said Vincent Reda, chairman of the Rockland County Republican Committee. "They're going to be the dynamic duo that helps Republicans take back the White House."
"He has a tremendous understanding, not only of the current situation that the United States is in, but how economics work, and this is something that we have been missing in the White House for a long time," he said.
Oppenheim said Ryan reflects the fiscally conservative views of many New York Republicans, particularly in the Hudson Valley.
"The reason I'm a Republican is not because I want to tell other people how to live their lives," he said. "It's because I don't want the government telling me how to live mine."