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The air war in Iowa's first Congressional district is fully engaged, with four new television commercials in the last week alone. Three-term Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley started running a spot about veterans last week and went up on the air yesterday with a response to a new ad about Medicare, paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Last week Republican challenger Ben Lange launched his second tv spot, which depicts the national debt as unfair to the next generation.
Male voice-over: $716 billion. That's how much Bruce Braley voted to slash from Medicare to pay for ObamaCare. [words on screen $716 BILLION MEDICARE Source: CBO, 7/24/12, switches to image of Bruce Braley, words on screen BRUCE BRALEY Voted for it Vote # 165 & 167m 03/21/10]
What does it mean for us? [words on screen THE FACTS: ]
64,000 Iowa seniors at risk of losing part of their Medicare benefits. [many photos of smiling senior citizens, words on screen: 64,000 Iowa seniors at risk]
And Washington bureaucrats making healthcare decisions. [words on screen WASHINGTON BUREAUCRATS Making healthcare decisions Wall Street Journal, 4/20/11]
Not families and their doctors. [words on screen FAMILIES AND DOCTORS Making healthcare decisions Wall Street Journal, 4/20/11]
$716 billion reasons to be against the new healthcare law. [$716 BILLION on screen, against backdrop with many photos of seniors]
Yet our congressman Bruce Braley couldn't find even one. [image of Braley next to words BRUCE BRALEY Couldn't find even one.]
The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.
In a press release announcing this commercial, NRCC deputy communications director Andrea Bozek added, "It's troubling that Bruce Braley would sacrifice seniors' access to care to pay for his government takeover of healthcare. It is clear that Iowa seniors have 716 billion reasons to vote against Bruce Braley."
Braley's campaign had its response ad ready within 24 hours and got some national media attention over the weekend for being the first House Democrat's campaign to enlist President Bill Clinton as a defender. On Monday, this commercial started running on broadcast television in Cedar Rapids and Mason City and on cable throughout IA-01.
My annotated transcript:
Female voice-over: See this lie Ben Lange's friends are telling about Bruce Braley? It's not new. [Words on screen: Medicare Lies from Ben Lange's Backers above image of television set with screenshot from NRCC ad showing "716 BILLION"]
Footage of President Bill Clinton addressing the Democratic National Convention: Governor Romney attacked the president for allegedly robbing Medicare of $716 billion. [words on screen: Charlotte, NC September 5, 2012]
But it's not true. What the president did was cut unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies. There were no cuts to benefits at all, none. [Video of Clinton speaking, interspersed with images of crowd in packed convention hall]
So the Democrats didn't weaken Medicare, they strengthened Medicare.
Braley's voice: I'm Bruce Braley and I approve this message. [viewer sees Braley sitting in booth at restaurant, talking with voters. Words on screen: GET THE FACTS: BRUCEBRALEY.COM ]
Braley's eager to capitalize on the buzz about this ad. Excerpt from a fundraising e-mail blast campaign manager Jeff Giertz sent to supporters on September 10:
We've got the Big Dog in our corner, and he's setting the record straight.
Last week, Bruce told you that the National Republican Party is spending hundreds of thousands running an ad in Iowa filled with lies about Bruce's vote for health care reform.
They're claiming a real doozy -- that Bruce's support for "Obamacare" stole billions from Medicare.
Respected fact checkers and the media discredited their claim long ago. But Republicans and our opponent Ben Lange continue to repeat the lies anyway.
But we have a former president on our side.
Check out our new TV ad featuring Bill Clinton taking down the Republican lies. [video enclosed in e-mail]
In the ad, Bill rightly claims, "There were no cuts to benefits at all, none. President Obama and Democrats didn't weaken Medicare, they strengthened Medicare."
And the national media is starting to pay attention, too. Time Magazine, USA Today, and POLITICO are reporting that our TV ad is the first of its kind in the nation.
It's starting to run today, but we need the resources to counter the Republican money flooding in from outside of Iowa.
Momentum is building, and we need to raise $10,000 this week to keep this ad on the air.
For just $35, we can run this ad on the Today Show.
For $150, the 5pm News.
And for $400, we can run our ad during Wheel of Fortune.
Meanwhile, Lange's campaign sent out an e-mail blast on September 8 with a link to this "fact sheet" (pdf) on Medicare. The Lange e-mail blast included this passage:
There's only one problem -- Clinton's remarks were themselves just labeled "FALSE" by the Washington Post! "The Affordable Care Act did indeed cut Medicare spending by $716 billion," the Post reported Thursday.
I think that refers to this Washington Post piece by Sarah Kliff. She noted that the 2010 health care reform law did cut Medicare by $716 billion, but added that Clinton correctly pointed out there were no cuts to Medicare benefits. Clinton's comments are only "false" if you think he was trying to deny that there were any Medicare cuts at all. But the context of his words are clear. Braley's ad edits Clinton's remarks to make them fit into a 30-second format. Here's the longer version, from Kliff's post:
"What the president did was to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals to cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service."
Clinton acknowledges that money was cut from Medicare--what he called "not true" was the Republican claim that Democrats took $716 billion from current Medicare beneficiaries. Or as the NRCC's television commercial puts it, "64,000 Iowa seniors at risk of losing part of their Medicare benefits." Sorry, no.
I think commercials like Braley's and the NRCC's won't change many minds, just reinforce whatever viewers already believe about which party would better manage Medicare. That said, I think this skirmish helps Braley, because Clinton is popular, and Braley's ad will reach more viewers across IA-01 (cable television everywhere, broadcast in Mason City and Cedar Rapids) than the NRCC's spot (Cedar Rapids broadcast only).
Last week, Braley and Lange both started running new positive television commercials. Braley's went up throughout the district on September 4. "Repay" focuses on his work related to veterans.
Braley: He landed on Iwo Jima the same day that the flag was raised. [View of Braley speaking to off-camera interviewer, words BRUCE BRALEY on screen, shifts to black and white photo of Braley's father in uniform]
My dad was eighteen, and it's just remarkable that somebody who is barely out of high school could be put in a situation like that. [View of Braley speaking again, shifts to footage of him talking with group of young people]
Male voice-over: Bruce Braley passed tax credits for businesses that hire our returning heroes [Footage of family members welcoming a young man in uniform home; news clipping headlined New Incentives, Help for Veterans to Find Work, KCRG News, 11/21/11]
and took on the Pentagon to get combat pay for those who served. [Footage of American flag waving in the wind, news clipping headlined Braley: Iowa Guard members finally getting back-pay checks, Des Moines Register, 3/11/10 ]
Braley's voice: The best way to thank a veteran is by giving them a job to help people achieve their dreams. I'm Bruce Braley and I approve this message. [view of Braley speaking to off-camera interviewer, shifts to footage of Braley talking with family, speaking to group of voters; words on screen BRALEY WORKS FOR IOWA BruceBraley.com ]
That "Braley Works for Iowa" slogan is borrowed from U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's re-election campaigns. Grassley's television commercials from the 2010 race were among the best I've seen for any Iowa candidate, so Braley and his strategists have good taste.
Braley serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and features veterans' issues prominently on his official Congressional website. I'm sure voters in IA-01 will hear more about this issue before the election.
The Lange campaign launched its second television commercial on September 5. "Saving Our Future" has the look and feel of a positive ad, like the commercial Lange ran on Cedar Rapids television last month. But it focuses on a specific issue, rather than on the candidate's background.
Lange speaks to camera: America is going broke. Trillions in debt. [words on screen: BEN LANGE CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS]
Each child now owes $50,000 before they can even ride a bike. [footage of little girl riding a bicycle with training wheels; words on screen LangeForCongress.com ]
Lange's voice continues: We face a clear choice that will determine the success of my daughters' generation. [footage of Lange's family at playground; Lange is holding his youngest daughter and talking with unidentified people; LangeForCongress.com still visible at bottom of screen]
Do we want to send the same old politicians back to Washington to kick the same old can down the same old road? [footage of Lange walking and talking with older couple, shifts to image of Capitol and "debt clock" passing the $16 trillion mark; LangeForCongress.com still visible at bottom of screen]
Or do we want to elect new leaders with the courage to pick up the can? [Footage of Lange walking and talking with man in workplace, shifts to Lange speaking to camera again; LangeForCongress.com still visible at bottom of screen ]
I'm Ben Lange and I approved this message because what the politicians are doing to our children just isn't right and they deserve better. [Lange speaks directly to camera, logo LANGE United States Congress is on screen]
Braley and Lange debated each other three times during their 2010 race, but it's not clear how many debates will take place this fall. Braley has accepted invitations to debate on KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids on September 25, on Iowa Public Radio in Cedar Falls on October 10, and on Iowa Public Television in Dubuque on November 1.
Any comments about the Braley-Lange race are welcome in this thread.
P.S. - The Braley campaign announced today that it is suspending all television advertising in observance of September 11: "Even in this political season, September 11th should remain a day when we reflect on what unites us as Americans."
UPDATE: Lange's senior advisor Cody Brown confirmed that Lange pulled his campaign advertising for September 11 last week "and, unlike Congressman Braley, will not be sending a press release about it." The Lange campaign released this statement on September 10 regarding upcoming debates.
IN SPIRIT OF BIPARTISANSHIP, LANGE PROPOSES
DEBATE COMPROMISE WITH BRALEY
INDEPENDENCE, IA -- In the spirit of bipartisanship, U.S. congressional candidate Ben Lange today proposed a debate compromise with Congressman Bruce Braley involving an uninterrupted 'morning conversation' to be broadcast on KWWL Channel 7.
Lange and Braley have committed to two debates thus far, but Braley has declined to debate Lange on network television. Lange has accepted two invitations from KWWL Channel 7 and KCRG Channel 9, both of which Braley has declined.
"At a time of great challenge and consequence, Iowans deserve to see and hear their candidates discuss the issues," Lange said. "In a spirit of bipartisanship, I'm today proposing a compromise with Congressman Braley to join me on KWWL Channel 7's widely viewed 'Today in Iowa' show for a morning conversation. I hope Braley will accept this compromise and help set an example that people from different parties are still willing to put aside childish things and work together for the good of Iowans."
KWWL has offered to host Lange and Braley on their widely viewed 'Today in Iowa' show for an uninterrupted 20 minute conversation with no time frame on answers. KWWL has also reaffirmed their commitment to host "a 1 hour debate on prime time Saturday night any night before the election," which Lange has also accepted.