Campaigns Jockey For Upper Hand In Medicare Debate

Just as new polls find that voters in three key swing states are more likely to trust President Barack Obama than GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney on Medicare, the Romney campaign is struggling to quiet controversies related to this issue.

The New York Times: In Poll, Obama Is Given Trust Over Medicare
The Romney-Ryan proposal to reshape Medicare by giving future beneficiaries fixed amounts of money to buy health coverage is deeply unpopular in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to new polls that found that more likely voters in each state trust President Obama to handle Medicare (Cooper, 8/23).

CBS: Poll: Economy, Health Care Top Issues In 3 Battleground States
Health care had the second-highest proportion of voters who ranked the issue "extremely important": 56 percent of Florida voters characterized the issue that way, as did 52 percent of Ohio voters and 50 percent of Wisconsin voters. Many voters also characterized Medicare and the budget deficit as "extremely important," while fewer said the same of taxes, foreign policy, and the housing market and foreclosures. On these four issues, voters had more confidence in Mr. Obama than Romney on health care and Medicare, but they thought Romney would do a better job fixing the budget deficit (Dutton, De Pinto, Salvanto, Backus and Madison, 8/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: The Race: Romney-Ryan Ticket Struggles To Quell Controversies Over Medicare, Abortion Stances
Heading into next week's GOP convention, Republicans are finding themselves confronting controversies over Medicare and abortion — far from the issues they've been trying to highlight for months: jobs and the slack economy. But Republican challenger Mitt Romney and ticket mate Rep. Paul Ryan have been unable to hold the focus where they want, try as they might (8/22).

NBC: Biden Bemoans GOP Medicare Plan In Recession-Ravaged Michigan
Campaigning Wednesday in famously recession-ravaged Michigan, [Vice President Joe] Biden bemoaned the consequences of the GOP ticket's plans for Medicare and said that their proposed changes would exacerbate the sacrifices already made by families on behalf of their elderly relatives. ... "It was still a struggle to take care of all my mom's bills," he told a crowd of over a thousand at Renaissance High School. "We were able to do it, no complaint, it was an honor. But you know what it did, we had to lie to my mom and tell her, 'No honey, this is all covered by your Medicare, this is all covered by the sale of your home,' which it wasn't" (Dann, 8/22).

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is using its Medicare message in an effort to target seniors as one of the demographic groups it is courting -

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Courts Demographic Groups To Build Coalition As Romney Tries To Stick With Economy
The president's pointillist approach has been on sharp display in recent weeks as he has alternately tailored his campaign speeches and his ad campaigns to women, older voters and, most recently, new young voters who may not have been old enough to cast a ballot four years ago. In each case, Obama has used Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as foils, arguing that their policies would limit women's health care choices, force seniors to pay more for Medicare and cut back on student loans (8/23).

News outlets also examine certain aspects of the Medicare proposals currently on the table as well as the facts in a new campaign ad-

Bloomberg: Ryan Plan for Health Care Doesn't Give Constituents What He Gets
Paul Ryan has likened his Medicare overhaul to the health-care coverage available to members of Congress. It differs in one main respect: It’s less generous. Republican vice presidential candidate Ryan's plan to revamp the health-care program for the elderly wouldn’t have the safeguards against rising costs included in the coverage that lawmakers and other federal workers receive (Faler, 8/23).

Politico Pro: The New Battleground: 'Current Seniors'
As the Medicare debate churns in the presidential campaign, the discussion has shifted from what's going to happen to the future of the Medicare program to how each party's platform is going to help or hurt the seniors of today. President Barack Obama's message: Don't think you're safe from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's Medicare plans, just because they say they'll leave you alone. Romney's counter-message: Don't think you're safe from "Obamacare's" Medicare cuts, either (Haberkorn, 8/23).

The Washington Post: Ad Watch: 'Nothing Is Free'
Today the Romney-Ryan campaign came out with a new ad blasting the Affordable Care Act's cost offsets, specifically its Medicare cuts and its tax increases (Matthews, 8/22).

CNN: Team Romney Unveils Another Medicare Ad
Mitt Romney's campaign continued its Medicare blitz against President Barack Obama in a new television ad Wednesday, targeting the president over his sweeping health care reform law. The 30-second spot, "Nothing's Free," blasts the health care law as legislation that would financially harm middle class Americans. "Some think Obamacare is the same as free healthcare," the ad's narrator says. "But nothing is free." The narrator then goes on to claim the president is cutting $716 billion from Medicare, "changing the program forever" (Killough, 8/22).

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