Windham, New Hampshire (CNN) - Following a week of dueling Medicare ads, President Barack Obama traveled to the swing state of New Hampshire Saturday to drive home the point that he and his Republican challengers have very different views on how to save the health care program.
"You'd think they'd avoid talking about Medicare given the fact that both of them have proposed to voucherize the Medicare system, but I guess they figure the best defense is to try to go on offense," he said.
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In a crowded high school gym in southern New Hampshire - one of the eight states that CNN rates as a November toss-up - the president touted his own administration record on Medicare.
"Since I've been in office I've strengthened Medicare." he said. "I've made reforms that have extended the life of the program, that have saved millions of seniors with Medicare hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs. The only changes to your benefits that I've made on Medicare is that Medicare now covers new preventive services like cancer screenings and wellness visits for free."
In contrast, Obama argued, his opponents' plan would force seniors to pay an extra $6,400 a year for their health care "so they can give another tax cut to millionaires and billionaires."
The non-partisan fact checkers Politifact.com on Friday rated the $6,400 claim "mostly true," but did not analyze the tax cut portion of this claim.
Meanwhile, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was in another battleground, Florida, speaking on Medicare in the country's largest retirement community.
"Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma when we needed it. Medicare is here for my mom when she needs it now and we have to keep that guarantee," he said after introducing his mother, who joined him at the event. "She planned her retirement based around this promise that the government made her because she paid her payroll taxes into this program that she had this promise with. That's a promise we have to keep."
He also returned the volley of criticism, charging that Obama "raids $716 billion dollars from the Medicare program to pay for the Obamacare program." The independent fact checker Politifact.com has rated this charge "mostly false," pointing out the amount is projected future spending reductions reached through cutting payments to providers.
Beyond the campaign trail, the campaigns exchanged blows over Medicare this week in television advertisements. Three days after a Romney campaign ad warned seniors, "You paid in to Medicare for years… Now, when you need it, Obama has cut $716 billion dollars from Medicare," Obama rebutted with an ad urging voters to "get the facts." A Romney spokeswoman replied that the Obama ad "gets the facts wrong."
New Hampshire and its four electoral votes are getting plenty of attention this election cycle. President Obama has already been to the state three times this year. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will campaign together in the state on Monday.
A WMUR Granite State Poll released Monday shows Obama and Romney in a neck and neck race in New Hampshire: 49% of likely voters favor Obama and 46% support Romney, a margin well within the poll's sampling error.
– CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report
I've said this before. I don't know anybody in the last four years that lost their job. Most everybody I know have actually gotten better jobs and raises. I don't know anybody that lost their home. People are buying houses and new cars everyday around here. People eat out everyday. This "recession" has been fabricated by the GOP to draw in the poor, who probably will always be poor if they listen to them, and I pray this November we keep the current team in place for another 4 years.
This is what liberal mean when they take money from you. The "strength" you.
Medicare has been falling apart for years. Fraud is increasing year after year. You have not improved the system President Obama, you have ignored the problems and stolen money from the seniors. AARP was wrong.
What is Mitt hiding in his returns.
I think he's broken the law and that's why he won't release his taxes. He's a CROOK!!
Poor provocateur; he weakened Medicare in exchange for kickbacks from AARP and its insurance selling cohorts.
Obama would be the most honest politician ever, if he would just save all of his speeches for Opposite Day.
Obama is a pathological LIAR!
Yes, You've strengthen Medicare because your policies have turn the U.S.A to welfare states.
Would like to see real fixes, instead of just poilitical incorrect or lip-servicing.
How is stiffing providers strengthening Medicare?
Where would people "get the facts" from? The news media just reports about the reality TV program that is the election. No one seems to be reporting on teh substance of what the candidates stand for.
Mr.P communicate your achievements to the voters you are being defined by perpetual liars.
all these talks are just politics. if anyone wants to do some good and sleep better at night, how about fix the system so it stops getting RIPPED OFF, so it has money to pay for things that actually USEFUL to people who need them.
Looks like America has found a replacement for Leno.
you are right Obama. The medicare was there for Ryan's family but he want to end it for the rest of us, when we need it
Why is Obama so proud of his ripping off service probiders?
Obama has only strengthened Solydra, oh, but they went bankrupt right after the payment.
Hello people! We need to stop decreasing physician compensation! They are underpaid and they will soon stop accepting medicare patients! We need more physicians, and this is threatening their practices! I am a premed student and often enough, people forget about the doctors' needs and are assuming they're rich! Guess what? They're not; and they're still paying off loans from 20 years ago at higher rates than members of any other occupation! Obama is making this an undesirable place to practice medicine and this will not work! He is missing the bigger picture. You want everyone to have preventative and top notch care...who's going to treat them? A cut in physician compensation is not acceptable! Sorry!
Of course Obama strengthened medicare, just like he did the economy...What an idiot!
Nursing home funding has been slashed. The feds are trying to force the companies to pick up the tab of caring for the elderly. That's not a fix. That's a broken system. The Medicare pyramid is crumbling.
The idea that cutting spending is a bad thing? I am not sure what the GOP is trying say here. The extra programs don't do enough and don't run as efficiently as Medicare; guess it is good to cut it to save money. We need to get more bang for the buck when it comes to funding.
If Politifact says that what alexithymic Mitt & radical Ryan are saying is FALSE, then that's all I need to know.
The charge about the reduction in Medicare is from an OBAMA speech. How can it be false?
Obama has brought racism backward into the 60's...Without racism, hate and division, this president would be out of business!
Republicans are really out doing themselves this time. And in the process will do themselves in. Death panels to dead grandmothers. Lie and deceive is the standard MO.