Super PACs, AARP And Catholic Church Among Groups Trying To Influence Candidates, Campaigns

A wide variety of groups seeks to shape the candidates' stances and drive the discussion around health issues.

Los Angeles Times: One Man's Anti-Romney Story, In Part
In an inflammatory new television spot, the pro-Obama "super PAC" Priorities USA Action attempts to link the closing of a Bain Capital-owned steel mill to the death of a wife of one of the former steelworkers, who lost his health insurance when he was laid off. … Meanwhile, CNN reported Tuesday that after Joe Soptic lost his job at the steel mill, his wife continued to have her own health insurance for a few years through her job at a local thrift store (Gold, 8/7).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Cardinal Suing Obama Invites Him, Romney To Dinner
The Archdiocese of New York is among more than 40 Catholic organizations, charities and schools that are suing over Obama's mandate that employers provide health insurance that covers birth control. Evangelical, Jewish and other religious leaders have joined U.S. bishops in pressing for a broader religious exemption, including for faith-affiliated hospitals, colleges and social service groups. As the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan has said the White House policy is "strangling" the church. Obama has offered an accommodation, but Catholic leaders and others have said the changes don't go far enough. The [Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation charity] dinner, in its 67th year, is a white-tie event at the Waldorf-Astoria that is customarily attended by presidents and candidates in an election year (8/7).

Roll Call: AARP Poll: Voters Over Fifty Dissatisfied, Anxious
A just-released survey from the seniors lobby AARP finds that older voters want candidates to better explain their plans for Social Security and Medicare. The poll also showed that Americans over age 50 are anxious about their retirement security and dissatisfied with politicians. "The message from voters 50+ is clear," AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in a statement. "In a razor-tight election, candidates have a major opportunity to reach key voters by speaking about their plans on Social Security and Medicare -- and they are making a huge gamble if they ignore them" (Ackley, 8/8).

In the meantime,  the GOP's conservative wing scored big in Kansas, winning primaries Tuesday over moderate GOP incumbents --

The Associated Press/Washington Post: GOP Conservatives Score Big In Kansas Primaries, Ousting Moderate State Senate Incumbents
Some GOP voters transferred their ongoing frustration with Democratic President Barack Obama and the federal health care law he championed to moderate GOP state senators. Some wanted the Senate to be more conservative and more in line with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and the state House’s right-leaning majority (8/8).

And in Ohio, a race there could help decide the fate of the health law in the U.S. Senate --

Gannett/Zanesville (Ohio) Times Recorder: Health Issues Point Of Contrast In Ohio Senate Race
The Supreme Court's decision upholding health care reform has not dulled the sharp political divisions over that law in Ohio's U.S. Senate contest, with Democrat Sherrod Brown vowing to protect the measure and Republican Josh Mandel gunning to repeal it. The outcome of this U.S. Senate race will go a long way to determining whether the law's popular consumer protections and its controversial insurance mandate survive in the next Congress. The winner of Ohio's high-stakes election also will have to grapple with a bevy of other urgent health policy questions -- starting with how to find savings in the Medicare and Medicaid programs amid an increasingly tough fiscal climate (Shesgreen, 8/8).

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