New NRCC ad attacks Marshall on health care in Nevada special election

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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The National Republican Congressional Committee has lobbed another bomb at Kate Marshall, the Democratic candidate in the Nevada special election, attacking her for mismanaging the state’s money as treasurer and for supporting Obama’s health care plan.

The ad, entitled “Crystal Clear,” began running on television Tuesday in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District where Marshall and Republican Mark Amodei are vying to fill the seat vacated by Dean Heller. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate after Nevada Senator John Ensign resigned in the face of an ethics investigation.

The ad begins with video of Marshall telling a crowd of people saying “My name is Kate Marshall, I’m your state treasurer. I’m in charge of your money. You have less money today than you had yesterday.”

According to the NRCC, Marshall made those comments during a speech at the Douglas County Democrats Keep Nevada Blue Dinner in March of 2009.

“In Congress, Democrat Kate Marshall would continue to take more of your money,” says an announcer. “She supports keeping Obama’s health care takeover, that could force businesses to drop health insurance for workers, give bureaucrats the ability to limit seniors’ access to care, even cut Medicare by $500 billion.”

The ad then cuts back to Marshall asking a crowd: “Are we clear? Are we clear?”

“Crystal Clear,” says the announcer, as the words “You can’t afford Democrat Kate Marshall flash across the screen that shows a picture of President Obama standing with his arm around Marshall.

In a statement accompanying the ad, NRCC Spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton emphasized that Marshall’s support of Obama’s health care plan would hurt seniors who receive Medicare. Medicare became the flashpoint in the special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District.

“Kate Marshall’s support of keeping Obama’s health care takeover confirms her commitment to Washington’s spending culture over the needs of Nevada senior citizens,” he said. “The $1 trillion government takeover of health care will gut Medicare by $500 billion, yet Kate Marshall refuses to support repealing it.”

In response to the ad, Marshall’s campaign defended her stance on Medicare.

“Two false ads from the Republicans in one day is no surprise given the amount of concern they have about Kate’s path to victory,” said James Hallinan, a spokesman for Marshall. “I again point to the fact that Mark Amodei is the only candidate in this race that has endorsed a plan to kill Medicare calling it ‘excellent,’ while Kate Marshall is the only candidate in this race that has been endorsed by the Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, which demonstrates Kate’s crystal clear commitment to protecting Medicare.”

As for the statement Marshall makes in the NRCC ad, James explained that “Kate was empathizing with what everyone in the room was experiencing: The economy had tanked, causing people to have less money at home. The same thing was happening for the state’s budget with the economy crashing and less revenue coming in as a result. It’s also important to remember that the treasurer does not have any control of how much tax revenue comes in, but she did however make money every quarter she was in office on her investments for the state for a total of 305 million dollars.”

This is the third ad since Friday that has focused on the issue of health care. Amodei’s campaign also put up a spot Tuesday that attacks Marshall for supporting Obama’s health care plan, saying that she would hurt Medicare, while Amodei would work to fix it. Marshall put up an ad on Friday attacking Amodei for his support of Paul Ryan’s budget Plan, saying that he would cut Medicare for seniors.

Previous ads had focused primarily on the economy, and in light of the recent economic upheaval with the stock market plummeting on Friday and Monday and then shooting up on Tuesday, and Standard & Poor’s downgrading the United States’ credit rating, the shift in focus may seem somewhat untimely. But consultants say it’s a wise choice in a Nevada race.

“Health care – ObamaCare – is still a huge motivating factor in the West. It is an issue that really perturbs independent voters and energizes left and right,” explained a Nevada-based Republican political consultant. “To many independents and conservatives, eliminating ObamaCare is the first step back to fiscal sanity.”

“[D]uring the debt ceiling debate — and before that during the ‘Ryan budget bill’ debate — public concerns about Medicare cuts were strong. I think both candidates are trying get on the right side of public sentiment,” explained University of Nevada, Reno political science professor Eric Herzik.

He added that the issue hinges more on Medicare than on health care as a whole.

“The ads are telling on this point. Marshall is able to hit Amodei due to his support for the Ryan budget bill. (And this strategy played well in NY 26.) The Republicans (NRRC) have sent a mailer and are running ads linking Marshall to cuts for Medicare that were part of the Obama health plan. (Kind of a two-for-one there as they can hit her on Medicare while simultaneously linking her to Obamacare.)”

“I would expect ads about a double-dip recession and the credit rating may be in the works,” he added. “I would guess, though, that the sides haven’t figured out just what message will best resonate with voters who are fairly upset with the overall performance of both parties (and their positions) concerning such matters.”

David Damore, associate professor of political science at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, had a similar take on things.

“I think that there are a handful of considerations at work here. First, the GOP in Congress appears to be getting the blunt of the blame for the debt ceiling ‘debate’ so there may be less interest on the GOP side to bang that drum,” Damore emailed. “Second, the Tea Party folks in Nevada still hate the healthcare reform bill so while they may not like Amodei because of his tax record or his establishment status bringing healthcare to the fore may be away to move attention away from his liabilities and energize the base. Third, the campaign organizations are lazy in that if this message worked in 2010, why shouldn’t it work in 2011?”

See the NRCC ad here: