Obama professes to like Ryan, the 41-year-old chairman of the House Budget Committee. But in increasingly personal and pointed terms, Obama is attacking Ryan as the face of a Republican Party that he says would use the government’s debt crisis to turn America in a radical new direction.

He’s doing it for two key reasons. Obama wants to shift the public focus away from own contribution to the nation’s skyrocketing debt — which hurt Democrats in the 2010 congressional elections — and onto the Republican Party’s proposed solutions. And he wants to frame the election as a choice between two very different visions of America: The Republican one he calls a dark place for the poor and middle class, and the other his own view of a friendly, more utopian place…

Some Republicans think, however, that Obama already is overplaying his hand. His attacks on Ryan may make it harder for him to strike a bargain with congressional Republicans, and could alienate voters focused on the enormous debt problem. And he also could turn off independents who chafe at partisan warfare.

Either way, it’s Obama versus Ryan for the foreseeable future.