NRCC also to make robocalls against McNerney

Hot on the heels of news that the National Republican Congressional Committee is launching TV ads – albeit a very small buy – against Rep. Jerry McNerney, the NRCC today said that it’s also launching automated calls to 11th Congressional District constituents later this week.

Here’s the phone-call script:

Hello. I’m calling from the National Republican Congressional Committee about your Congressman Jerry McNerney’s plan for Medicare. McNerney and President Obama’s plan threatens to deny treatment for seniors in Medicare by allowing bureaucrats to interfere with their doctors. Worse, McNerney’s budget plan lets Medicare go bankrupt – that’d mean big cuts to benefits. Call Congressman McNerney at 202-225-1947 and tell him to stop endangering Medicare. Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. 202-479-7000.

NRCC spokesman Tyler Houlton said similar calls are being made in about a dozen Democratic House districts nationwide.

“While the Republican plan preserves and protects Medicare for future generations, Nancy Pelosi and Jerry McNerney are hell-bent on cutting Medicare benefits for seniors and raising taxes on Californians,” he said. “It’s become crystal clear that Jerry McNerney and House Democrats are committed to endangering healthcare for our senior citizens.”

For some debunking of this, see the piece I wrote last week about the TV ad.

When first discussing the TV ad buy last week, Houlton couldn’t name a dollar figure; I later heard it’s only $4,500, a miniscule buy of time on Fox News made even smaller by splitting it between the Sacramento and Tri-Valley markets. Today, I asked Houlton how much the automated calls are costing – though I know such calls are much cheaper than TV air time – and how they’re being targeted. I wanted to get an idea of whether the NRCC is really putting its money where its mouth is to win hearts and minds with these tactics, or rather just preaching to the already-converted while seeking some headlines.

“I know the calls are going to thousands of McNerney’s constituents,” Houlton replied via e-mail. “I don’t have the buy information for you but I do know the calls are aimed at highlighting McNerney’s record in Congress.”

McNerney spokeswoman Sarah Hersh said today that “this misleading attack is just a smoke and mirrors attempt by republicans to distract from their own plan to end Medicare as we know it.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.