Mitt Romney's newly minted running mate Rep. Paul Ryan waded into Middle East policy for the first time on Friday in Virginia, affirming the Republican ticket's support for Israel following reports that Iran's president called the United States' ally a "cancerous tumor."
"Let me be really clear. Under President Romney, our adversaries will think twice about challenging America and our allies because we believe in peace through strength," said Ryan. "There will be no daylight between America and our friends around the world."
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee also responded to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad statement at a fund-raiser in New York state.
"You might not have seen the news today, but Ahmadinejad of Iran made another series of vile statements about Israel and excising Israel from the body of humanity and so forth," said Romney in Southampton. "You recognize how critical it is to have leadership that describes precisely what it believes, describes what action it is willing to take and stands for something."
Romney added, "We simply cannot allow the horrors of history to go forgotten. And America must lead, as Lech Walesa said, as Bibi Netanyahu is doing in his nation, as America must do."
Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman from Wisconsin, became Romney's running mate six days ago and since then, he's spent three of those days in Virginia campaigning in the critical battleground state.
In the Northern Virginia suburb of Springfield, Ryan continued to defend his stance on Medicare and called out President Barack Obama for using the entitlement program "like a piggy bank."
"We want this debate on Medicare. We want this debate, we need this debate and we are going to win this debate," he said, repeating a refrain attacking Obama for reducing the Medicare budget by $716 billion to pay for his signature health care initiative, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"There's only one on Medicare, only one person who treated Medicare like a piggy bank and that's President Obama who took $716 billion dollars from that program to create Obamacare," added Ryan, pointing to the president's signature health care initiative, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Republican criticism of apparently references a July report by the Congressional Budget Office which said a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would result in a $716 billion increase in Medicare costs through 2022. But the report also says that Medicare will not lose $716 billion should Obamacare stay in place, as Romney claimed in his ad.
Republicans and Democrats have been battling to win the message war over the airwaves and on the campaign trail since Romney's vice presidential announcement of Ryan, who is the author of the Republican budget proposal that includes reforms to partially privatize Medicare.
Underscoring Virginia's importance, Ryan was introduced as Romney's running mate in Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday, August 11. Romney and Ryan campaigned together last weekend but Ryan has spent the week campaigning on his own in battleground states of Iowa, Ohio and Virginia.
In Northern Virginia Friday, Ryan shared the stage with former four-term Democratic Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama - a 2008 Obama campaign co-chair who this year switched to the Republican Party and has become an outspoken Romney surrogate - as well as state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican is running for Virginia governor in 2013.
The Romney campaign awkwardly stepped into the heated 2013 governor's race when Romney endorsed Cuccinelli's rival, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, during a campaign stop with Ryan last weekend. Romney later walked back his apparent endorsement, and an aide said the presidential candidate "wants to see a Republican as governor of Virginia, he has not endorsed in the primary."
At West Springfield High School, an audience member interrupted Ryan at the beginning of his remarks.
The person, who was to the right of the stage below a huge Romney-Ryan sign, shouted a question asking why the seven term congressman lied about accepting stimulus funds from the Obama administration.
Ryan acknowledged the heckler but didn't say anything as the demonstrator proceeded to rip up a Romney-Ryan campaign sign. At one point the heckler gave a thumbs down sign, and as he was drowned out by event supporters chanting "USA," Ryan weighed in with a thumbs up before the man left the room.
Ryan, who was a harsh critic of the Obama administration's 2009 stimulus package, originally denied requesting stimulus funds, but has since said that his office supported stimulus grant requests on behalf of nonprofit groups in his Wisconsin congressional district.
Since Romney's announcement of Ryan as his vice presidential pick last Saturday, Ryan has been heckled twice by audience members at campaign events. In Ryan's first solo speaking debut as the vice presidential candidate, which took place the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, several fair attendees heckled him and even tried to get onto the stage.
This was Ryan's second campaign event in Virginia Friday, following a visit to a high school in Henrico County - a key battleground that went for Obama by only 679 votes in 2008. Ryan's afternoon event took place in Fairfax county - where Obama won 60% of the vote in 2008.
Virginia, once thought to be a Republican stronghold, has become a battleground state in the current election. In 2008, Obama bested Sen. John McCain in Virginia by 6 points in the general election but the race remains close this time around.
According to a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News survey released earlier this month, 49% of likely voters in Virginia said they supported the president, while 45% favored Romney. The president's four point advantage was within the survey's sampling error.