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Obama redoubles Medicare attack on Romney in Florida

September 13, 2012|By Paul West
  • President Obama at a campaign event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
President Obama at a campaign event at the Palm Beach County Convention… (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

More dollars have been dumped into presidential campaign advertising in Florida ($117 million and counting) than any other state. That factoid is a reflection of both the tightness of the presidential race (a tossup) and Florida’s rich pile of electoral votes (29) — more than any other battleground.

For those reasons, it’s worth taking a quick look at the very different messaging strategies the competing presidential campaigns are employing in the state.

President Obama is redoubling his attack over the future of Medicare, which jumped to the top of the issue agenda with Mitt Romney’s selection of ticket-mate Paul D. Ryan. It has yet to go away, despite a Romney camp prediction that Medicare would be “off the table by October” when undecided voters are making up their minds.

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The latest Obama ad replaces one that claims the election of Romney would mean “an end to the Medicare promise” for Americans. It is at least the third Medicare ad the Obama campaign has aired over the past month. Like an earlier one, it borrows the credibility of AARP, and fact-checkers are already criticizing it for twisting the truth. (As if any more advertising were needed to heighten the election-season focus on Medicare, AARP itself is running a separate TV ad that urges voters to go to its website and educate themselves on the issue. )

Obama’s new Medicare ad is also airing in other swing states, including Ohio, Virginia, Iowa and Nevada.  But nowhere is the issue more vital than in Florida, home to the nation’s highest proportion of over-65 residents. Former President Bill Clinton hammered at the issue during a just-completed campaign swing through the state. He told a rally in Orlando on Wednesday night that the Republican effort to roll back the Medicare portion of Obama’s health overhaul “is a bullet aimed right at Florida.”

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Romney, meantime, is attacking Obama over the woeful state of the economy, with a special emphasis on Florida’s wretched home foreclosure situation (by some measures the second-worst in the nation). It opens with footage from Romney’s speech at last month’s Republican National Convention in Tampa and is designed to convince Floridians that they aren’t better off than they were four years ago when Obama was elected.

The Florida-specific ad promotes what it says is Romney’s plan to offer alternatives to foreclosure. But Romney’s plan is not very different from Obama’s, according to at least one analysis.

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