Tuesday August 14, 2012 | 01:49 PM

Charlie Summers, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, told the Press Herald Tuesday that he supports vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's controversial budget plan -- except, perhaps, it's most controversial proposal: Privatizing Medicare. 

Summers, amid a multi-stop campaign tour, told PPH reporter John Richardson in Lewiston that he has "serious reservations about the Medicare part." He said that it has been his position all along. Medicare works well, he said, and while it needs to be made more efficient it should not be privatized.

 "I don't think we need to get into privatization," he said. 

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Medicare portion or Ryan's plan represents $200 billion of the $5 trillion in total budget reductions over the first 10 years. 

Summers' position may have something to with the fact that the Ryan plan may be rejected by older voters in Maine. While Ryan's plan has been embraced by many congressional Republicans, it has not been well received in several states, particularly those with older populations. Several national news stories have noted hostile receptions to the plan after House Republicans passed it in April. One of the harshest reactions was in Florida (BTW - Ryan did not travel with Romney to Florida this week.

Romney has also indicated that he would not adopt the Ryan plan and instead will unveil his own budget proposal. 

The Washington Post blog The Fix noted today that GOP senate hopefuls have had a mixed responses to the Ryan budget. 

From the post: 

"The Fix surveyed Senate candidates in some top races — a few of which we highlighted Monday as states where Ryan’s V.P. nomination and his proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program could matter. A couple of candidates in blue-leaning states have balked at tying themselves to Ryan, while Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), and Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) said they would welcome Ryan to the trail.

Ryan is in Heller’s home state today. The two won’t appear together, but Heller’s campaign said it would be happy to do so in the future."

Larry Sabato, director for the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told the Press Herald Monday that Republicans' reception to the Ryan budget could change if the GOP can win the policy debate.

"Democrats are obviously hoping to depress the senior vote for the Republican ticket," Sabato said.


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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

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