Paul Ryan had a rally in Florida and we had one in Ohio, so I thought I’d compare the two:
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul D. Ryan’s initial campaign visit to Florida, site of this month’s Republican nominating convention, was to The Villages, a hotbed of Republican retirees. Residents were encouraged to arrive in their golf carts for the outdoor rally Saturday.
Hundreds of supporters jammed one of the development’s “town squares,” where free entertainment and boozy dances each night have helped this community of 60,000 seniors earn a somewhat double-edged reputation as Disney World for the Cialis set. Romney counts billionaire H. Gary Morse, who built The Villages on more than 30 square miles of central Florida farmland, among his campaign’s biggest donors.
First, the standard disclaimers. My attempts at punditry are purely anecdotal. This is one county in rural Ohio. I’m a partisan advocate, not a journalist, and I’m not a political professional.
We rent a pavilion (a concrete pad with a roof) at the fairgrounds and serve a meal and then we have speakers. A part-time disc jockey has become active within our county group over the past year, and his music really adds so much to these events. There was a wedding reception going on in another building at the fairgrounds and the guests were wandering over to our event because the music was better. Our local OFA organizer immediately approached the wedding reception guests who crashed our political event and made his pitch, which made me laugh. Leave no stone unturned there, Nathan! Seeing Nathan earnestly speaking with young men in ill-fitting, rented tuxedos who really just wanted to sit at our picnic tables and smoke cigarettes and listen to music was very amusing to me.
I like to think I’m a good host, so during the meal I try to talk to every person who comes out. I know and like most of them, so this isn’t a chore, and we’re talking about 40 people, not thousands. Ordinarily I would try to speak to anyone who comes individually and then my only role at the microphone is to tell them about upcoming events, housekeeping type stuff, but after the conversations I had during the meal I did the upcoming events and then I did a 5 minute factual presentation on the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare and Medicaid.
There are two reasons I did that. First, I heard over and over that people are tired of the political ads. I had one woman who is my neighbor and one of the kindest people I know tell me “I love the President, but first I turned off the GOP ads and now I turn off his ads, too.” We in Ohio have been hit with political ads almost continually since 2009. Sherrod Brown ALONE has had 12 milllion dollars in negative ads thrown at him. So, we may be reaching the point of diminishing returns in political ads.
The second reason I did a straight-arrow factual bit on the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare is the people at this rally were not hooting and hollering like the folks in The Villages. The median income in this county is 42k, and they are taking this election very seriously. There was a gravity and focus I felt talking to people that was not there prior to Paul Ryan’s entry into the race. No more jokes about Seamus on top of the car or dancing horses. They want to know what happens to them if Romney-Ryan prevail. So I told them. I told them Romney-Ryan plan to replace Medicare with vouchers. I told them I know “Medicare” isn’t a voucher and they know it too, because they DO know it, despite the elaborate rationalizations and lawyerly parsing of language that apparently makes it impossible for political media to write a simple factual statement like “vouchers aren’t Medicare.”
I told them Romney-Ryan also plan to drastically reduce Medicaid coverage which means that when Mitt Romney says that “nothing changes” for the people who get Medicare now he must be talking about the people who live in the Villages because a lot of elderly rely on BOTH Medicare and Medicaid. They are what are known as “dual enrollees.” People know this, here, but I told them again, because Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going to continue to say that “nothing changes” for current Medicare recipients and that’s not true. Medicare and Medicaid are connected. Romney-Ryan have chosen to ignore this although hopefully Paul Ryan, alleged “policy wonk”, is aware of it. I believe that’s known as an omission, Mr. Ryan, and a knowing omission is as deliberately deceptive as a flat-out lie.
The factual bit on Romney-Ryan Medicare/Medicaid was well received, so we’re going to expand it a little. We have county fairs here. Democrats and Republicans rent booths on the fairway. Two fairs are coming up, one in my county and one in a county east of mine. We’re going to do Medicare-Medicaid Romney-Ryan information nights and advertise those nights as such, because people really seem hungry for some actual information delivered by a real live human being, face to face.