The Morning Joe set went silent after watching a clip of Paul Ryan stumbling his way through a Tuesday interview with Fox News.
Asked about the $700-billion Medicare cut accusation that the Ryan-Romney ticket has lobbed at the Obama administration (read Ezra Klein for further clarification), Ryan said that the Romney-Ryan ticket does not want to make cuts to Medicare.
"That [Romney-Ryan] ad attacks President Obama for the Medicare savings that are contemplated in Obamacare estimated now at over $700 billion dollars. Doesn't your budget also contemplate very major savings from Medicare on something like the same amount?" asked Fox News interviewer Brit Hume.
"Only President Obama raids $716 billion dollars from the Medicare program; he cuts $716 billion from the Medicare program to pay for Obamacare," Ryan replied. "We don't do that."
Hume went back for more, though: "You make savings. How much?" he pressed.
"The point is—we, we—I joined the Romney ticket," Ryan replied. "And what Mitt Romney is proposing to do is to repeal all of Obamacare...including this cut of $716 billion...We want to restore those cuts."
"So you don't contemplate making any savings in Medicare?" Hume continued.
"We will make savings in Medicare for the next generation but what we're proposing is strengthening it for current seniors," said Ryan. "We don't take more cuts to Medicare."
Hume switched tactics.
"The budget plan you're now supporting would get to balance when?"
"Well, the budget plan that Mitt Romney is supporting gets us down to 20% of GDP government spending by 2016," Ryan said. "That means get the size of government back to where it historically has been."
"I get that but what about balance?"
"Well I don't know exactly when it balances because—I don't want to get wonky on you, but we haven't run the numbers on that specific plan," Ryan said.
Cue silence from the Morning Joe panel.
Finally host Joe Scarborough breaks it up with a laugh: “You know, because I hate when people get wonky on me."
"You know what I hate more? When they don’t run the numbers,” co-host Mika Brzezinski lobbed back.
“Paul Ryan, before he was selected [as Mitt Romney’s running mate] was so fluent in matters of the budget, he’s sitting trying to recall what he’s supposed to say, what he’s been programmed to say about the Romney budget," added co-host Willie Geist.
The panel pointed out that part of Ryan's struggle is that "Paul Ryan knows what's in his plan, but we don't know what's in Romney's plan."