Doris White is a Republican. She’s also 67 and on Medicare and so far she hasn’t made up her mind how she’ll vote in the 6th Congressional District race between incumbent Democrat Ben Chandler and Republican challenger Andy Barr.
“That’s a tough one,” she said of the choice between Barr and Chandler. “No, I haven’t made up my mind yet.” But she said the determining factor in her final decision will be Medicare.
White was at the Lexington Senior Center on Thursday morning for bingo. But before the games began, Chandler showed up to talk to a constituency he sees as key to his re-election: seniors who depend on Social Security and Medicare “to retire with dignity,” as Chandler put it.
With him was 88-year-old former Sen. Wendell Ford, who told the crowd he has been “retired for about 12 years and I’ve been using Medicare and Social Security for 12 years.” He said his wife had undergone heart surgery, the hospital bill was $85,000, and “If we hadn’t had Medicare, we’d have been bankrupt.”
Several seniors in the crowd of 60 or so affirmed their understanding. And that was why Chandler was there and why he brought Ford. Chandler said Barr and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan want to turn Medicare “into a voucher system and privatize Social Security.”
Barr campaign spokesman David Host says that’s not true. He said Barr supports a Medicare plan sponsored by Ryan that would preserve the system for anyone 54 or older and allow others to choose between a government paid “premium support,” which seniors could use to buy private insurance or opt to stay in the current system.
But Ryan earlier proposed an end to guaranteed Medicare payments for those younger than 54, replacing them with a voucher, and at the time Barr supported that plan.
After Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney chose Ryan as his running mate, Ryan moderated his position on Medicare. Host said Thursday Ryan’s new plan is an improvement upon the original and Barr prefers that approach.
Chandler told the seniors in Lexington on Thursday they needn’t doubt his commitment to both programs for the elderly.
“I think you all know me well enough to know I’ll never do anything but keep Medicare strong,” he said. “It’s extremely important that we have a system in place that allows people to retire in dignity.”
Chandler said seniors have “earned and paid into Medicare and it’s not right to cut those benefits.”
Chandler has run television ads saying Barr would vote to end Medicare in its present form and would drive up seniors’ annual medical costs by $6,400. He repeated the charge Thursday.
“I can’t afford it!” called out one older man. “I can’t afford $64 more.”
Chandler and Ford charged Barr and Republicans with playing loose with the facts, not only about programs for the elderly but about coal and Chandler’s position on coal. Barr has run an ad featuring Heath Lovell, a western Kentucky mine executive posing as a miner in a hard hat saying President Barack Obama and Chandler are “devastating” the coal industry.
Chandler’s campaign responded with its own ad, calling Barr’s “a big lie,” and showing photos of Lovell standing next to Romney at fundraisers. Barr has accused Chandler of “slandering” Lovell who has a mining certificate although he works in management and doesn’t live in the 6th District.
“What you’ve been hearing is simply false,” Chandler told the seniors. He was referring both to Barr’s ad on coal and a charge by Barr that Obama and Chandler are “raiding” Medicare by using $716 billion to help pay for preventive services and lengthen Medicare’s projected solvency.
Ford put it more colorfully.
“This fella who’s running against Ben is just a slick talker. He’s like a preacher with a tent, 100 chairs and a guitar,” said Ford.
The Barr campaign has demanded Chandler remove the “big lie” ad, claiming it slanders Lovell, and Wednesday issued a press release with the headline: “Chandler Pulls Plug on Lovell Attack, But Still Won’t Address Job Losses.”
The release says Chandler “effectively pulled the plug on his defamation campaign against Heath Lovell yesterday. Chandler dramatically scaled back the broadcast run of an ad claiming that Lovell ‘isn’t a miner,’ substituting another ‘MediScare’ ad that recycles an old, false, and disproven claim that Andy Barr supports Medicare cuts.”
Chandler’s ad was still running Thursday morning and he said it will continue to run at least for a while. He said the ad has run longer than any other campaign ad he’s run but has been effective.
“At some point you’ve got to pull any ad or people will get sick of it,” Chandler said.
As for Doris White, she still hadn’t made up her mind after Chandler and Ford spoke. But she said her decision will rest on who she thinks “is best for us older people.”
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on
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State champs get their rings at YMCA breakfast
Two months may have passed, but Madison County continues to celebrate the state basketball championship won by the Madison Central boys team.
Team members were presented championship rings while their cheerleaders received pendants Saturday morning during a breakfast at the Telford YMCA attended by nearly 300.
Sand artist, pastry chef wow audience at cake expo
Joe Castillo dazzled audiences while performing at Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for the Arts Saturday during the Grace with Taste Cake Expo.
Castillo, along with pastry chef Stella Parks, were the entertainment acts at the expo early in the afternoon.
District urges students to ‘PowerMyLearning’ through the summer
Sixteen little penguins need help jumping from iceberg to iceberg as a hungry killer whale swims menacingly in the chilly water below.
The fate of the poor little penguins lies in the hands of a third-grade student, who must quickly find the answer to a math equation to lead the penguins to safety.
Vietnam vets mark Armed Forces Day
In the 1960s and ‘70s, when many campuses around the country were the scene of anti-war riots and demonstrations, Eastern Kentucky University was naming buildings and streets for its alumni who had died fighting for their country.
GREAT bridges gap between cops, preteens
Bridging the gap between public misconceptions about police officers and the reality of what’s behind the uniform can be a daunting task. But, a growing program at Madison County middle schools is helping break down those barriers.
Exit 95 rebuild delayed until 2017
Originally scheduled for 2014, the reconstruction of Exit 95 on Interstate 75 won’t take place until 2017, Madison Judge/Executive Kent Clark told a joint meeting of the Richmond and Berea chambers of commerce Friday.
The state Transportation Cabinet is delaying the project, Clark said, until a decision is made on the proposed highway that would run from Exit 95 to Nicholasville.
Toyota bornlearning Academy graduates parents
Seven graduates received their certificates Thursday night, but not with the customary rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance.”
It was a celebration of the parents’ six-month journey with the Toyota bornlearning Academy at Berea Community School.
The academy works with parents and caregivers of children from prenatal to 5 years old on ways to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities.
Caudill Middle School student showcase
Members of the Caudil Middle School Jazz Band entertain the crowd during the school's end of year student showcase Thursday.
Man arrested Friday after early morning break-in
Richmond police made an arrest Friday in connection with an early morning break-in at Jack’s Cleaners on West Water Street.
Scott Hobbs, 42, of McKee, was charged with first-degree burglary, according to Richmond Police Chief Larry Brock
At 3:25 a.m., a witness reported seeing a man enter and exit the cleaners through a broken window and drive away, Brock stated in a news release.
Grand jury indicts inmates in jail assault
Two inmates at the Madison County Detention Center were indicted Wednesday on charges related to the beating of another prisoner.
A Madison grand jury indicted 28-year-old Justin Morgan Howell and 26-year-old Lucas Wayne Shanks on charges of second-degree assault, second-degree escape and second-degree persistent felony offenders.
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