Rand Paul is having a hard time escaping his plan to add a $2,000 deductible to Medicare, despite a pricey ad campaign that appears to be aimed at just that. In a rather blatant edit to one of his TV ads, Paul's campaign changed language saying he "never" supported a deductible to words and narration saying he "doesn't" support such a plan.
It's a fairly dramatic public walkback that suggests Paul is concerned about how the deductible talk could affect his performance on Election Day. Democrats in Kentucky say the fact that Paul changed the ad means their opposition research operations are bearing fruit and making victory for their nominee, Jack Conway, more likely.
The back story: Back in 2009, Paul told a group that a $2,000 deductible for Medicare was necessary to help get the program "to more of a market-based system." Paul admitted the plan would be a tough sell to voters, snarking "but try selling that one
in an election year." That remark was captured on video
of the speech taken by Democrats. Conway went up with an ad calling out the deductible plan a couple weeks ago, and has made great use of the what the campaign says is the unpopularity of increasing the costs of Medicare among those who receive it (read: senior citizens, the demographic absolutely no one wants to get on the wrong side of in an election year).
Paul is clearly worried about the ads, as he is now running his own spots calling Conway out for ever saying that he supported a deductible for Medicare (fact check: Paul does in fact support
increasing the deductible costs for Medicare, but only for people 55 and younger).
Paul's attempts to rebut the Conway ads were stymied somewhat by his own past statements however.
Here are two versions of the same Paul response ad:
See the difference? In the first, male-narrated version, the ad claims Paul "never" supported a Medicare deductible. In the second version -- which Democrats say was switched out for the first after the 2009 video made it appear unseemly -- a female narrator says Paul "doesn't" support increasing the Medicare deductible (again, fact check: he does.)
These stills captured in each ad illustrate the difference:
Neither of these ads appears to be entirely accurate (seriously, Paul really does support an increased Medicare deductible), but the second version is at least closer to the truth, which is that Paul doesn't support increasing the deductible now.
The Paul campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the change. The TPM Poll Average shows Paul ahead in the Kentucky Senate race, leading by a margin of 47.4-41.9.
Late Update: The edits to Paul's ad appear to have been reported first by Kentucky blogger Joe Sonka yesterday. (A Democratic source sent me the copy of the ads used in my post today.) As Sonka points out, there are more edits than just the ones I found when I watched the ads today. In the first version, the narrator says Conway "lies" about Paul's record, while the second version drops the word "lies" in favor of "distorts."