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Local politics

Associated Press
Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks during a rally Saturday in Manassas, Va. Ryan will run with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Hoosier peers support Ryan pick

– Two of his Indiana colleagues said Saturday they like Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. But one of them dislikes the federal budget proposal for which Ryan is best known.

Calling Ryan “a friend,” Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, said about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s selection for a running mate: “Paul is extraordinarily intelligent. … I just think he is wrongheaded on the policies. But he certainly is qualified.”

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, serves on the House Budget Committee chaired by Ryan and traveled last year to Afghanistan with him and three other panel members.

“We often talk about, on the House floor, how both of us don’t speak with an accent; we come from the Midwest,” Stutzman said with a laugh.

Stutzman, who has supported Ryan’s budget proposals, said Ryan is “the right person” and “the best choice” as the Republicans’ vice presidential nominee.

“He is respected by Republicans and Democrats on the Budget Committee,” Stutzman said. “Even though Democrats may disagree with him, they still respect him because he is fair.”

Stutzman, who seeks a second term in the House, and Donnelly, who is running for a Senate seat, were in Fort Wayne on Saturday for separate events.

Asked whether Ryan might overshadow Romney, Stutzman said: “I think there is that possibility because of the issues of the Ryan budget, but I think Paul knows his place, and he is a respectful person.”

Donnelly opposes Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly, into a subsidized voucher system in which seniors would purchase private insurance.

“By almost every measurable study it exposes seniors each year to the risk of having to provide approximately $6,000 of their own money. So it’s a very dangerous program for seniors,” Donnelly said.

Ryan’s budget plan “doesn’t balance budgets, he doesn’t pay down the deficit. He provides further tax cuts at a time when what we need to do is take those funds and pay down the debt,” Donnelly said.

Stutzman said Ryan’s age – 42 – made him a good pick for the GOP nod for vice president.

“The challenges that face America are multigenerational. I think it’s good to have a younger person with a young family out in front, talking about the future of America,” said Stutzman, who turns 36 this month.

Romney is 65.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th, the GOP candidate for governor of Indiana, said in a statement that Ryan “has the character, intellect and optimistic vision our next president will need at his side to turn this economy around and put Hoosiers back to work.”

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said in a statement: “The Romney-Ryan ticket demonstrates a commitment to offer bold solutions to some of our nation’s greatest challenges, including the critical need to reform entitlement programs.”