Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who relied heavily on automated calls to attack Barack Obama during the presidential campaign, is deploying the same tool in his efforts to derail health care legislation and bruise some Democrats along the way.
The Arizona Republican has cut at least two separate versions of a robocall now making the rounds, in which he attacks Democrats for "cutting vital Medicare coverage for our seniors." The most widely-distributed call, which was reported on Tuesday evening, is paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and targets at least five key swing Senators: Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, both from North Dakota.
Slightly further under the radar, McCain has put out a nearly identical robocall for himself in Arizona, in which he again touts the work he did in introducing "the first Republican amendment to the massive health care bill, which would send the bill back to the Senate Finance Committee and stop the Democrats from cutting vital Medicare coverage for our seniors." That call, as first reported by Shaun Dakin at The National Political Do Not Contact Registry, is paid for by the Senator's political arm, Friends of John McCain.
Robocalls are a notoriously cheap vehicle for politicians and political groups to disseminate a message fast and wide. Though their ability to actually influence recipients is proven to be minimal. That said, it is a bit puzzling to see McCain spend even small amounts of money blasting automated calls around his home state this far removed from the 2010 elections.
During the presidential campaign, the Arizona Republican famously authorized robocalls questioning Obama's ties to former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers - again, to minimal effect. As for the current effort, Democrats are already hitting back sharply.
"We've come to expect nothing less from those who simply want to stall and delay meaningful change,' Chris Hughes, Bennet's campaign manager told the Huffington Post. "This is just a nod to the special interests who want to block progress on health care reform by spreading myths and half-truths. Michael is committed to health care reform that will lower premium costs, protect seniors, and improve access to care for all Coloradans - and Americans."
HERE IS THE TEXT OF THE MCCAIN ROBOCALL PAID FOR BY THE NRSC:
Hi this is Senator John McCain. On Monday, I introduced the first Republican amendment to the massive health care bill, which would send the bill back to the Senate Finance Committee and stop the Democrats from cutting $500 billion in vital Medicare coverage for our seniors. I need Senator Michael Bennet to join me in this effort. If you want to keep Medicare from getting cut please go to our website... and sign a petition to Senator Bennet urging him to join my efforts to fight a Washington D.C. government takeover of your health care. Thank you for your time.
Paid for by National Republican Senatorial Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee