Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is not just running for Vice President; he’s also running for re-election as the Representative from Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district. His name was on the ballot before he was chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate–and, by law, he cannot be removed. Ryan is a lock for re-election, but is using the local campaign to run ads with a national message. This week, he launched an ad aimed at dispelling Medicare myths.
The ad features Ryan speaking to a meeting of seniors at a Janesville, WI coffee shop. “How many of you are 55 or over?” he asks them. After several hands go up, he continues: “Our solution to save Medicare makes no changes for people fifty-five or older. But Medicare is going bankrupt. To save it, our solution empowers future seniors to choose from a list of guaranteed options, including traditional Medicare.”
Ryan’s campaign released the ad Monday morning partly with Thursday’s debate in mind, when Vice President Joe Biden is expected to attack Ryan’s policies aimed at reforming Medicare. Biden told an audience of seniors in Florida last month that Ryan’s plan would raise their Social Security taxes, leading to a furious rebuttal by Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee and has been a leader for entitlement reform.
Biden has a long history of using falsehoods in debates and on the campaign trail–and he often gets away with it. In facing off against Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008, Biden told dozens of lies–including the outlandish claim that NATO had removed the Lebanese terror group Hizbollah from southern Lebanon. What counts, for Biden, is the delivery, which is often just convincing enough to slip past the moderators and the media.
Ryan, clearly anticipating a similar barrage on Thursday, is setting as many facts as he can in front of voters in advance of the highly anticipated debate, in which Biden will have scores to settle from Romney’s victory over President Obama last week. Ryan will have the added burden of surpassing expectations against an opponent known for his gaffes. His success will depend on his credibility–hence this ad, and perhaps others like it.