With the presidential primary less than 2 months away here, it wasn't surprising to hear the latest presidential campaign ad to hit the airwaves in New Hampshire, my home state. What caught my attention, though, was that it's an attack ad on health care by a candidate who has yet to propose any meaningful solutions himself.
It seems that presidential candidate Mayor Giuliani has resorted to scare tactics and misleading information to try to win support for his health care policies in New Hampshire.
It's no coincidence he's raising the issue here. Health care is on the minds of Republican, Democratic and Independent voters across the state. In 2002, New Hampshire for Health Care, part of Americans for Health Care, a project of SEIU, opened its doors and received a tidal wave of concern about the health care crisis in our country. For the past five years, we've been working with Health Care Voters - people who have pledged to only vote for candidates who make health care reform a top priority - to get candidates to talk about how they will fix the health care crisis when campaigning through the state. Our purple "I'm a Health Care Voter" t-shirts dot nearly every presidential event with 67,000 Health Care Voters and growing.
So when a presidential campaign talks health care, he or she had better know what they're talking about. Giuliani either doesn't know - or even worse, doesn't care - if he uses false information in his bid to attract support for his campaign.
On Monday, a new radio ad from the Giuliani campaign that debuted in New Hampshire raised the ire of thousands of Health Care Voters across New Hampshire. The radio ad "Chances" addresses Mayor Giuliani's battle with prostate cancer. It has a good start, with Giuliani talking about having prostate cancer five or six years ago; voters in New Hampshire have been sharing their own health care stories for months now to make candidates understand the health care crisis that is facing everyday Americans. But then it takes a sharp veer off course.
"My chance of surviving prostate cancer, and thank God I was cured of it, in the United States, 82%. My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England, only 44% under socialized medicine."
Turns out 44 percent is actually 74.4 percent -- a tremendous difference of 30%, and a very misleading statement to present to New Hampshire voters.
As early as the day the ad was released -- Monday, October 29th -- ABC News reporter Rick Klein reported that "the data Giuliani cites comes from a single study published eight years ago" and "is contradicted by official data from the British government."
As reporters asked more questions, the Giuliani campaign refused to admit their mistake.
When we issued a call for the ad to be taken down, his campaign still refused.
But we're not backing down. The next time Mayor Giuliani is in town we intend to deliver the message that we expect the campaigns to present strong, accurate statistics when making the case for how they will ensure access to quality, affordable health care for every American.
Health Care Voters will be there to call on him to remove the ad, and to remind him that 67,000 people intend to vote for a Health Care President - one who presents real facts, and doesn't use falsehoods to deflect attention from the lack of any personal ideas about how to fix the health care crisis.
John J. Thyng, Jr.
New Hampshire for Health Care