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Which side is winning the battle to define Paul Ryan?

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In fact, some analysts suggest that Romney was not even aiming for a splashy debut of his running mate. Making the announcement on a Saturday morning on the final weekend of the Summer Olympics more than two weeks before the start of the Republican convention was not a typical rollout. Perhaps the goal was to wow activists, who already know about Ryan and his bold conservative vision, and let the rest of the electorate get to know Ryan over time.

At the introductory event in Norfolk, Va., last Saturday, Romney emphasized character and leadership in describing Ryan. He also invoked key touchstones: Ryan's Catholicism, his father’s early death, his wife and children, his Janesville, Wis., roots.

“In a city that is far too often characterized by pettiness and personal attacks, Paul Ryan is a shining exception,” Romney said. “He does not demonize his opponents. He understands that honorable people can have honest differences.”

Likewise, Democrats are not trying to demonize Ryan personally. They are granting that he is personally likable – a quality that Romney has struggled to project – and instead are zeroing in on his budget plan.

“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it,” screams the headline on a Youtube video posted by the Obama campaign on Aug. 15. That just about sums up the critique of Ryan so far: nice guy, but watch your pocketbook.

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