"Richard's a great teammate and he'll work with Republicans and Democrats to create jobs," Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman says in the ad.
The health care overhaul that Congress passed in 2010 continues to reverberate in this year's elections. GOP candidates say it represents government overreach and they're working to counter Democratic charges that Republicans are out to eliminate Medicare.
For example, in North Dakota, GOP Rep. Rick Berg says in an ad that Democrat Heidi Heitkamp supports Obamacare, cutting $716 billion from Medicare and putting a few unelected bureaucrats in charge of the program. The ad succinctly explains his plan: "Repeal Obamacare and its cuts to Medicare. No changes for those 55 and over. And protects Medicare for future generations."
Ads on behalf of Democrats emphasizing a GOP proposal that would replace the current fee-for-service system in Medicare with one that instead gives a subsidy to purchase their health insurance. Berg voted for such a system. Heitkamp enlists breast cancer survivor Margaret Gilmour to explain why she didn't support such a plan.
"Rick Berg is worth $24 million, but he voted to increase premiums by $6,400 to pay for a tax break for millionaires like himself. I wouldn't be alive today if Medicare cost that much" Gilmour tells viewers.
The $6,400 figure comes from a Congressional Budget Office analysis of a plan the House passed in 2011. GOP lawmakers in the House since have tweaked the proposal to give beneficiaries a choice of buying a private plan or to purchase a traditional Medicare plan.
A September poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation makes clear the importance of Medicare in this year's elections. It trails only the economy and the deficit as priorities for voters. The poll also found that 55 percent of Americans prefer keeping Medicare as it's currently structured, while 37 percent favor a premium support system with a traditional Medicare option of the sort called for by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Another big issue in Senate races is employment. But candidates rarely get into many specifics in their ads.
In Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin says China violates international trade laws and she passed legislation in the House to restore expiring trade penalties that protected the state's paper mills. Republican Tommy Thompson reminds voters of his days as governor. "Tommy created thousands of jobs and ended welfare," a voter explains.
Of course, every election season has its odd moments, such as Thompson's ad showing him dressed in black and riding his Harley on an open Wisconsin road. He says he would be the 51st vote to repeal the health law, but the message may not be as lasting as the image of Thompson in some bad boy poses atop his bike.
The two candidates in Florida are talking Hooters. There's Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's ad pointing out that Republican Connie Mack is a "promoter for Hooters with a history of bar room brawling, altercations and road rage."
Mack's ad response: "Who cares?" "Bill Nelson, like a typical career politician, wants to talk about Hooters and what I did as a kid."
View selected Senate campaign ads here: http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2012/political-ads
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