The 2012 campaign was in full swing Monday as the two presidential tickets fanned out across the country to push their respective messages in key swing states.
President Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's pick for his running mate, hit the trail in Iowa, while presumptive Republican nominee Romney stumped in Florida and Vice President Biden spoke in North Carolina- all states carried by the president in 2008.
As Ryan focused on the economy, Romney spent part of his speeches in Florida defending Ryan's approach to overhauling Medicare, which has been under attack by Democrats. Obama and Biden both assailed the Wisconsin Republican's proposal in speeches Monday.
In Iowa, a state ravaged by recent droughts, Obama also tied Ryan to Congress' failure to pass a farm bill before they left for August recess.
"If you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities," Obama said during his speech in Council Bluffs. "We've got to put politics aside when it comes to doing the right thing for rural America and for Iowa."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would buy $170 million of agriculture products in order to boost the struggling industry.
Obama also took aim at Ryan's Medicare proposal, telling the crowd it would be "the end of Medicare as we know it."
Obama top political adviser David Axelrod told TheDes Moines Register after the speech that the Romney/Ryan plans would put Medicare into a "death spiral."
Ryan's Medicare plan would allow those 55 and younger to opt out of the government-run health insurance program and purchase private insurance with a federal subsidy. The proposal would not change the program for seniors currently enrolled.
The Register reported an estimated at 4,300 turned out to hear Obama's 30-minute speech in southwest Iowa. Stops in Council Bluffs and Boone are part of his three-day bus trip through the Hawkeye State.
Ryan, who spent his first solo day on the campaign trail at the Iowa State Fair, declined to respond to Obama's remarks, according to the Associated Press.
"We'll get into all those policy things later," he said. "Right now, I just want to enjoy the fair."
During his speech from the hay bales at the fair, known as the soapbox, Ryan referenced his Midwestern roots and noted his connection with Iowans as a fellow upper Midwesterner.
The crowd of more than 3,000 who turned out to hear Ryan became rowdy at times, according to the Register. One woman struck another in the face, and a handful of protesters heckled Ryan about cutting Medicare and "the war on the poor."
Like Obama, Biden also linked Ryan to congressional Republicans, telling the crowd in Durham, N.C., that the Romney campaign was simply pushing an agenda that had stalled in Congress for the past two years and called his plan for social security "irresponsible."
"What's gutsy about giving millionaires and billionaires tax breaks?" Biden asked. "What's gutsy about gutting Medicaid and Medicare?"
Romney took his bus tour to St. Augustine, Fla., where he defended Ryan's Medicare plan and promised to reduce regulations on homeowners and banks. "To help small business," he said, "we've also got to make sure we do a better job helping home builders and letting people stay in their homes."
He told reporters before his rally in Miami that there was little daylight between his Medicare plan and Ryan's. "My plan for Medicare is very similar to his ... which is, do not change the program for current retirees or new retirees," Romney said. "My plan, like his ... says let's give people more opportunity to take advantage of not just the standard Medicare but also the policies that are available in the marketplace."
Susan MacManus, a politics professor at the University of South Florida, said it was unclear how much Ryan's addition to the Republican ticket would impact the race there, but any message would have a tough time getting through because of the number of ads that are already bombarding Florida voters.
"The saturation point has almost created an inattentive Florida constituency," she said. "Republicans are going to have to spend a lot of money and a lot of effort educating seniors in Florida that their plan does not affect them because that is not coming through."