“The pundits are buzzing that with Paul on the ticket, the Democrats are going to attack us on Medicare,” Boehner told GOP lawmakers, according to the Associated Press. “Well, here’s a news flash: They were gonna do that anyway. The best defense on Medicare is a good offense. And Paul Ryan gives us the ability to play offense.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) promptly launched news ads nationwide attacking Democrats on the subject of Medicare reform, and the Romney campaign told the media it would make Medicare a central campaign issue.
As the effort began to show results, a member of the White House press corps asked Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Aug. 18 for a reaction to how it “seems like the President and Democrats are on the defensive on Medicare.”
“Well, the President spoke about Medicare last Wednesday in Iowa,” she replied. “He’ll speak about it again today.”
Ryan and his mother hit the campaign trail in Florida, a bellwether state for Medicare politics, just hours later.
“Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma when we needed it,” Ryan told a crowd in The Villages, a retirement community in Florida.
“Medicare is here for my mom when she needs it now and we have to keep that guarantee. My mom has been on Medicare for 10 years, but I won’t tell you exactly how many years over 10 years she’s been on it. She planned her retirement based around this promise that the government made her because she paid her payroll taxes into this program that she had this promise with. That’s a promise we have to keep.”
“We think the best way to save Medicare is to empower 50 million seniors, not 15 unelected bureaucrats to make their decisions in how they get their health care,” Ryan added. “Mitt Romney and I will protect and strengthen Medicare so that the promises that were made, that people organized their retirements around like my mom, will be promises that are kept.”
GOP strategist Mark McKinnon said he thinks “the jiu jitsu Romney/Ryan seem to have pulled off on Medicare has been brilliant. … They’ve made a potential weakness a strength.”
Aggressive campaigning helped Republicans win big on the Tea Party wave during the 2010 midterm elections, according to Time’s Mark Halperin, and the strategy might also be the ticket to the White House in 2012.
“The commercial plays offense in a way that won races for Republicans in 2010,” Halperin wrote, adding that there’s still a “question of how Romney plans to explain his own Medicare ideas — and link them to saving the program for future generations and job creation.”