Democrat Jack Conway appeals to retired voters with his latest attack in the Senate race, airing a television ad that shows Republican Rand Paul saying “the real answer to Medicare” would be for seniors to pay a $2,000 deductible.
Paul denounced the ad that began airing Tuesday as “politics at its lowest form.” The tea party movementbacked Paul said he doesn’t favor a $2,000 Medicare deductible, though he referred to it during a political meeting about 15 months ago to make the point that recipients need to share in the costs of the health care program for seniors, which faces looming shortfalls.
Conway’s campaign is now trying to make the issue stick, saying Paul’s remark wasn’t an isolated comment but in fact was made repeatedly by Paul from 1998 to last February.
“Rand can rant all he wants but he can’t run from his own words,” Conway campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley said.
Conway stayed on the offensive with the third negative ad this month using Paul’s own words to target him.Th
e 30-second ad is the Democrat’s first on health care and shows several older Kentuckians denouncing the suggestion that Medicare recipients pay $2,000 out of pocket before receiving benefits. The ad shows one senior saying Paul is “off the wall” with such an idea and another saying, “I don’t know what planet he’s from.”
The ad is running statewide in what was termed a substantial ad buy by a Conway aide, who declined to provide the total cost.
“The ad is a lie,” Paul responded during a campaign stop in Hazard in eastern Kentucky. “It’s dishonest. It’s demagoguery. It’s politics at its lowest form. And it’s also why we can’t have an intelligent discussion in America.”
Conway’s campaign said it culled Paul’s comments from a June 2009 appearance in Lexington. The clip could be viewed on a You- Tube video of Paul addressing leaders of the Center- Right Coalition of Lexington. During his remarks, Paul referred to Medicare as “socialized medicine” but also said, “We can’t just eliminate Medicare.”
“But we have to figure out how to get more to a market-based system,” Paul says during the clip. “It’s counterintuitive to a lot of people, but you have to pay for things if you want prices to come down. So you really need higher deductibles. And the real answer to Medicare would be a $2,000 deductible, but try selling that one in an election.”
Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton said that if elected, Paul would work to preserve Medicare for future generations.
Last week, Paul told reporters that Medicare recipients might have to “bear more of the burden,” possibly through higher premiums, to shore up the health program’s finances and deal with the nation’s mushrooming debt. Paul said he doesn’t want higher premiums, but wants to protect Medicare from sliding into insolvency.
Conway found himself on the defensive on Medicare earlier this month when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran an ad accusing him of supporting Medicare cuts that would take tens of thousands of Kentucky seniors off the rolls by backing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Conway has said he would have voted for the landmark health care law, but has referred to the chamber ad as a scare tactic aimed at older votes. Paul has said the health care law is unsalvageable and Congress should start over. The Democrat has been hit with a barrage of ads in recent weeks by outside groups hoping to have a hand in getting Paul elected. Those ads have largely tried to link Conway to Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who are seen as political liabilities in conservativeleaning Kentucky.
Paul said the ads have “gotten the message out. The message is if you like President Obama’s platform, that you’ll love Jack Conway.”
Conway, the state’s attorney general, has tried to portray Paul as out of touch with Kentuckians on crime and pocketbook issues.
In another Conway ad airing this week, an eastern Kentucky man who lost his adult son to drug addiction calls the drug problem a crisis and says he can’t believe that Paul said drugs aren’t a pressing issue in Kentucky.
The libertarian-leaning Paul was quoted by The Associated Press last summer as saying he doesn’t think drugs are a “real pressing issue” in the Senate race.
Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon, has since off ered assurances that he realizes drug abuse is a problem.
During his campaign stop in Hazard, Paul said he sees the drug ad as “kind of tacky and really dishonest and kind of creepy actually that they’ve got someone with their personal tragedy … and they’re using it for political purposes, as if I’m somehow responsible.”
Paul has spent the past several days campaigning in eastern Kentucky, telling people that the Obama administration’s policies would destroy jobs in the coal mining region. He said he would stand against Obama’s cap-andtrade initiative.
Associated Press writer Janet
Cappiello Blake in Louisville contributed
to this report. Roger Alford
reported from Hazard.