Politics

Republican challenger Collins flips Medicare attack on Rep. Hochul

Photo of Alexis Levinson
Alexis Levinson
Political Reporter

In her 2011 special election, New York Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul successfully pioneered the Medicare attack on Republicans that has become a key Democratic campaign strategy. But one year later, her Republican opponent is turning that attack against her.

Hochul pulled off an upset win in upstate New York’s Republican-leaning 26th Congressional District last year in large part due to a successful attack on her Republican opponent’s stated support for the budget plan authored by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

Former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, Hochul’s opponent in the newly realigned district, will use that same attack on Hochul, attacking her for voting to uphold the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans argue will paid for using over $700 billion in cuts from Medicare.

The spot, provided exclusively to The Daily Caller, will be Collins’ first attack ad and will begin airing Wednesday.

The ad, titled “Broken Promises,” accuses Hochul of breaking the promise she made in the 2011 election, when she said: “I am the one person in this race who has said I will not touch Medicare.”

“But she broke that promise to help pay for Obamacare,” says a female narrator, as an image of glass shattering splashes across the screen. “Hochul voted to cut Medicare and Medicare Advantage by over $700 billion when she opposed repealing Obamacare.”

“She had six opportunities to say no to these devastating cuts, but each time, she sided with Barack Obama, against us,” the narrator continues. “Obama and Hochul, billions for Obamacare, at our expense.”

The ad plays to the sentiments of the Republican-leaning district. Fifty-six percent of the district’s voters would like to see the health care law repealed, according to a Siena poll conducted two weeks ago, and President Barack Obama is very unpopular in the district – earning a 56 percent unfavorable rating and trailing Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a head-to-head match-up by 12 points.

Collins and Hochul are locked in a dead heat, with 47 percent of voters saying they plan to vote for Collins and 45 percent saying they plan to vote for Hochul, a split well within the Siena poll’s margin of error.

The Collins camp has already aired ads, but this will be the first spot that attacks Hochul.

“Kathy beat us to the punch on the negative ads, so we’ve got to make sure we’re responding and setting the record straight on some of the mistruths that she’s put out there, specifically as it relates to Medicare,” said campaign adviser Chris Grant.

“But I think, more importantly, Obamacare is one of the truly defining issues in this election,” Grant said, calling it the “single biggest piece of legislation that Kathy Hochul voted for.”

The cuts to Medicare proposed in last year’s budget authored by Ryan were from the beginning a point of attack for Democrats. But with Ryan’s selection as the Republican vice presidential candidate, the issue was rocketed back into the spotlight.

The Collins ad echoes the response adopted by Republicans: that Democrats were the only ones who actually cut Medicare, pointing to the $716 billion in cuts to Medicare that would be used to pay for the Affordable Care Act.

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