Paul Ryan Pick Changes Subject in Florida

Jewish Voters, Once Worried About Israel, Fret Over Medicare

Changing the Subject: Paul Ryan’s pick as the Republican vice presidential candidate means Jews in Florida are talking about, well, Paul Ryan, and his plans for Medicare and other entitlement programs. That could shake up the presidential race in the crucial battleground state.
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Changing the Subject: Paul Ryan’s pick as the Republican vice presidential candidate means Jews in Florida are talking about, well, Paul Ryan, and his plans for Medicare and other entitlement programs. That could shake up the presidential race in the crucial battleground state.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published August 15, 2012, issue of August 24, 2012.
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Paul Ryan’s arrival on the Republican presidential ticket is changing the subject among Florida Jews — and that could be good news for President Obama.

For months, Republicans have worked to win Jews in the key swing state with their critique of Obama’s perceived less-than-robust support of Israel. But Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan turns the focus to the GOP rising star’s proposed cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly on which many Florida Jews rely.

A pitched battle over Medicare in Florida is one that Democrats think they can win hands down, especially among Jewish voters.

“Romney has made my job much easier,” said former New York City mayor Ed Koch, who plans to campaign for Obama among Florida Jews this fall. “Israel is no longer the issue…. It has now shifted, and Romney shifted it.”

Ryan’s plan for Medicare, which Romney has avoided endorsing, would result in substantial cuts in the program. Republicans say that the only other option is insolvency. They note that any changes wouldn’t impact current Medicare recipients.

Republicans insist that Democrats are engaging in “scare tactics” to drum up support from elderly voters, a strategy GOP operatives predict will backfire.

“We don’t think it’s a liability at all,” said Brad Herold, campaign manager for Florida Republican congressional candidate Adam Hasner. “[B]y picking Paul Ryan they made it very clear that those are the issues we want to talk about.”


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