In its first full week of campaigning, the Romney-Ryan ticket has sought to accomplish two things: 1) Make the Obama campaign pay for its effective attack ads, and 2) Play offense on the Medicare issue.
The first task is clearly part of the “High Ground” strategy first identified by Jonathan Chait.
A new television ad, titled “America Deserves Better,” asks, “What does it say about a president’s character when his campaign tries to use the tragedy of a woman’s death for political gain?”
On the stump in Ohio, Romney extended this theme, chiding Obama for “wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the presidency.”
On a second front, Romney sought to distance himself from his new running mate’s budget proposal. “I have my budget plan, and that’s the budget plan we’re going to run on,” he said in North Carolina.
Through surrogate John Sunnunu, the Romney campaign sought distance from Ryan particularly on Medicare: “The nominee is Mitt Romney. Paul Ryan joins Mitt Romney. The budget plan, the approach on Medicare and all that, is going to be the Romney plan,” Sununnu told CNN.
Further insulating itself from a “Mediscare” attack, Team Romney put out another TV ad this week that hits the Obama administration for diverting $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare:
It seems to me that GOP strategists have been anticipating a fight over Medicare that mirrors the Clinton-Gingrich battles of the 1990s. This is misguided. The Obama campaign will certainly reject the idea of a partial voucherization of Medicare, but there’s a broader, and more potent, critique of both the Romney and Ryan budget proposals: If taking money from Medicare and shoveling it into Obamacare is bad, cutting Medicare (and, far more deeply, Medicaid) to pay for more tax cuts and more defense spending is substantially worse.
He’s trying to deodorize a turd, but say this for Romney: At least he’s no longer just twisting in the wind.