QUOTE OF THE DAY…. Almost immediately after Paul Ryan unveiled his budget plan, David Brooks gushed that the agenda “will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee.”

To quote Rupert Giles, I’d like to test that theory.

During a Tea Party rally in New Hampshire, likely presidential candidate and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (R) endorsed the Ryan proposal, saying, “as a general matter and directionally, I think Paul Ryan’s plan moves in the right direction.” But when I pressed him over whether he supports maintaining some of the Medicare cuts that are part of health care reform, Pawlenty demurred, and took another question.

After Pawlenty praised Ryan’s “direction,” Igor Volsky asked, “Do you support the Medicare cuts in his plan that he keeps from Obamacare?”

Pawlenty responded, “Anybody else have a question besides this guy?”

I suspect we’ll be hearing this kind of response quite a bit over the next year or so. The Republican presidential field will have all kinds of litmus tests — abortion, gays, taxes, climate change, Affordable Care Act — but how many will endorse the elimination of Medicare?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.