The Republicans who gather on stage in New Hampshire Monday night for their first major presidential primary debate are all scrambling to position themselves on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system.
And thanks to a blanket of advertising in New Hampshire by progressive groups, primary voters in the Granite State watching tonight’s debate will be confronted with the Democratic view of Ryan’s budget — namely, that it forces seniors and the poor to bear the burden of the federal budget woes while making life easier on the rich.
Major progressive groups are flooding New Hampshire with Medicare messaging, previewing the fight for Medicare they hope to have with the GOP next year. Online or on the air, it will be hard for primary voters tuning in to the debate to avoid the progressive position on the Ryan budget, providing contrast for the Republicans on stage who are expected to heap praise on Ryan, even while the big names try to put at least some distance between them and Ryan’s unpopular proposal.
Meanwhile, progressives will also pressure New Hampshire primary frontrunner Mitt Romney to confront the near-universal health care plan he championed and signed into law while governor of Massachusetts. It’s a political and policy victory Romney is eager to put behind him, but one that Democrats and the left are intent on keeping in the minds of voters.
The first round of ads are already running. Protect Your Care, a left-leaning outfit focused on defending the national health care reform law President Obama signed last year, launched this Medicare-focused ad on New Hampshire station WMUR (the station broadcasting the debate there) and the Boston media market Sunday:
The ad will continue running on WMUR through Tuesday, “including multiple spots during the debate itself,” according to information on the campaign shared with TPM. Protect Your Care will also fire off a “Google blast” in Manchester, NH, buying up every available online ad impression in the Granite State’s largest city and linking it back to a website attacking the Ryan plan.
Protect Your Care promises to also stick Romney with his Massachusetts health care plan with on-the-ground messaging throughout the day.
Their Medicare campaign will not be alone. Two of the nation’s largest progressive groups, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, will run their Medicare-themed ad targeting Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH) on WMUR during the debate and in DC on CNN during the post-debate spin extravaganza.
Progressives — and Democrats — think they have Republican primary voters on their side when it comes to the debate over the Ryan plan (and they have the poll numbers to prove it.)
Tonight’s debate is an opportunity to keep the Medicare pressure on Republicans, many of whom have found it hard to distance themselves from Ryan’s politically unpalatable reform to one of the government’s most popular programs. Conservatives have called on Republicans running next year to embrace the proposal and have punished the Republicans who have refused.
“In 2012, every race from Congress to President will be run in an environment where Republicans voted to end Medicare while giving tax cuts to millionaires,” said Adam Green, a co-founder of the PCCC. “With these ads surrounding the debate, we’re making clear that progressives are going on offense in 2012 in support of successful government programs — and that Republicans will be haunted by the ghost of Paul Ryan everywhere they go.”