The punditocracy and mouthpieces for both the Romney and Obama campaigns spent valuable airtime on the Sunday morning talk circuit scrubbing down Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, while bickering over the state of Medicare.

It was a big comedown from a week ago, when all five major talk shows were waxing poetic about presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's choice of the young Wisconsin congressman as his running mate.

Romney's campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom portrayed the Medicare issue, thrust to the fore by the Ryan pick, as bad for Democrats.

"This is the first election cycle I can remember in a long time where Democrats are on the defensive on Medicare," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

He pointed to Obamacare's use of Medicare funding as the heart of the debate, deflecting Ryan's plan to cut the program down to a voucher-based government handout that allows seniors to buy into private health insurance. "There's only one candidate in this race that has made cuts to Medicare that have affected current seniors, and that's President Obama," he said. "In order to pay for Obamacare, he raided the Medicare piggy bank."

Fehrnstrom also clarified the perceived gulf between Romney and Ryan's stance on the future of Medicare. In short, there is none.

"If you've heard, been listening to Rep. Ryan over the last few days, he has said that he has signed up for the Romney program, which is slightly different than what you saw Paul Ryan bringing forward, but in terms of the operating principles they are the same," Fehrnstrom said.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, threw his weight behind Ryan on NBC's "Meet The Press," defending the candidate against what he described as "incendiary" and "way over the top" criticism of his budget  proposals.

"These character attacks by the other side are just horrific, but I understand it because if you got a record where you got $16 trillion in debt and no energy plan and a jobless rate of 42 months over 8 percent, of course you can't run a campaign on the issues, and you're going to have to resort to that," McDonnell said.

Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser for Obama's campaign, said Ryan should "thank President Obama" for strengthening Medicare via reforms laced into Obamacare.

"We found $716 billion in efficiency and savings primarily by reducing the subsidies that the government was paying to Medicare Advantage through private insurance companies, something that was costing Medicare, not saving Medicare money as it was originally designed to do," Gibbs said on Fox News Sunday.