WHITE HOUSE —The Midwestern U.S. state of Iowa, a key swing state in this year's presidential election, was the scene of dueling political speeches on Monday by President Barack Obama and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, who was chosen by Mitt Romney as his vice presidential running mate.
The addition of Ryan to the likely Republican Party ticket has energized the Romney campaign. It also presents challenges and opportunities for President Obama as he speaks about his differences with the Romney-Ryan team.
At the beginning of a two day day bus trip in Iowa, the president appealed to voter in the city of Council Bluffs, where farmers and others in the agricultural sector have been hit hard by drought.
Mr. Obama highlighted what he called Ryan's role in blocking passage of a farm bill by the U.S. Congress.
"Governor Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa the next few days," said President Obama. "He is one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities. We have got to put politics aside when it comes to doing the right thing for rural America and for Iowa."
President Obama has called Ryan the ideological leader of Republicans in Congress, who the president says are the cause of gridlock in Washington that is harming middle class Americans.
Paul Ryan made his first solo campaign appearance since being chosen by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the Republican vice presidential slot.
At the Iowa State Fair, Ryan had to compete with hecklers in the audience, who accused him and his running mate of hurting the middle class.
Ryan criticized the Democratic president on a broad range of issues - from government spending to the nation's energy policy.
"President Obama has given us four years of trillion dollar - plus deficits," said Ryan. "He is making matters worse, and he is spending our children into a diminished future. We don't have to stand for that; we're not going to stand for that. And on November 6, we're going to change that."
Political scientist Cary Covington of the University of Iowa says Paul Ryan's conservative positions, including his proposals for major federal budget cuts, have strong appeal among Iowa Republicans.
"He is strong on lower taxes, strong on smaller government, and that is the kind of candidate they were looking for," said Covington. "He is very much a Tea Party kind of representative, so that will energize the Republican base here in Iowa. But by the same token, it's going to energize Democrats as well because of his stance on things like Medicare and cutting support for farmers and those kind of things."
In 2008, Obama won Iowa, which has only 7 electoral votes, by a wide margin. Recent public opinion surveys show Mr. Obama leading Romney in key swing states. But one poll gives Romney a two point lead in Iowa.
In their first joint interview, on CBS television's "60 Minutes" program on Sunday, Romney and Ryan defended their proposal to reform the government-run Medicare program, saying their plan would not alter the program for seniors citizens or those nearing retirement.
Romney campaigned on Monday in Florida. But political analysts say Romney's selection of Ryan as his running mate, with his proposals to transform Medicare and Medicaid, could hurt Republican chances in that swing state in November.