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Obama battles Ryan, but war is still with Romney

BOONE, IA -- During the first two stops of his Iowa campaign trip, President Barack Obama took direct aim at Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s newly-minted running mate.

But don’t expect the president to make Ryan his permanent foil on this trip.

An Obama campaign official told NBC News that the president isn’t going to talk about Paul Ryan at every event during his three-day swing through Iowa, saying the race is more about the vision for the top of the ticket – Mitt Romney – than it is about Ryan.


But that doesn’t mean the president won’t tie both members of the GOP team with Ryan’s day job in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which, along with the Democrat-controlled Senate, is one of the most unpopular institutions in America.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney returned to the trail Monday in the key swing state of Florida, while his new running mate Paul Ryan canvassed Iowa – the same state President Obama was visiting. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.

On Monday morning in Council Bluffs, IA, Obama called on Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, to convince his colleagues to pass the farm bill, a crucial piece of legislation that was not taken up before Congress left for recess.

“So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and to our rural communities. It’s time to put politics aside and pass it right away,” Obama said.

But Obama dropped that direct appeal at his next stop at a park pavilion in Boone, IA, where he repeated what is already becoming a familiar, albeit softer, line of attack: “Over the weekend my opponent chose as his running mate the ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress. And I’ve gotten to know Congressman Ryan – he’s a good man, he’s a family man, he’s a very articulate spokesperson for Governor Romney’s vision. But it’s a vision I fundamentally disagree with."

Although it may have been politically advantageous for the president to directly address Ryan on Monday (while Ryan, riding high from this weekend’s rollout, also stumped in Iowa), it may be more beneficial for the president to refocus his attacks on the man running to unseat him: Mitt Romney.