UPDATE: Paul Ryan Challenger Rob Zerban Airs First TV Ad
Democrat uses his first television ad to underscore Ryan's plan for Medicare and Zerban's pledge to leave the program alone.
**Updated 2 p.m. Oct 7 to include a response from the Ryan campaign
The first television ad for Democrat Rob Zerban hit the airwaves Saturday— timed to coincide with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's visit to Milwaukee for a fundraiser.
In the ad, Zerban points out that the Republican congressman "ends Medicare," slashes money for education, and helps out the wealthiest Americans with more tax breaks.
Zerban and Ryan will square off Nov. 6 in the 1st Congressional District race.
According to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Ryan campaign responded to the ad by saying Zerban's statements are lies.
"Congressman Ryan has led with solutions equal to the fiscal and economic challenges we face, and it's a disservice to 1st Congressional District voters that his opponent would blatantly lie about these proposals," campaign manager Kevin Seifert is quoted as saying.
In an email to Patch on Sunday, Seifert noted that the assertion that Ryan's plan would end Medicare was named the "Lie of the Year" by Politifact - a fact-checking project of several newspapers, including the Journal Sentinel.
“The fact remains, Paul Ryan's budget saves and strengthens Medicare," he said.
But Karthik Ganapathy, Zerban's communications director, told Patch on Friday the ad addresses the truths about the Ryan budget that most concern residents in the district.
"It's not a lie that Congressman Ryan wants to privatize Medicare and that seniors will pay $6,000 more for their health care," he said. "He also wants to make cuts to Pell Grants, which help thousands of college students pay for their education."
Patch is still working with the Ryan campaign on a possible debate with Zerban on Oct. 25 at Gateway Technical College in Racine. Seifert asked Patch for some alternatives should the congressman be unable to make a personal appearance, and Patch has arranged for a video feed or Skype capability for Ryan.
Patch also offered the Ryan campaign the option of having a 500-word statement read at the beginning of the forum with the agreement that both candidates could distribute campaign literature as well.
On Friday, Seifert pointed out that, historically, candidates running for Congress and the vice presidency don't debate at home.
"Almost every candidate who has run simultaneously for Congress and the vice presidency has NOT debated their local opponent, instead opting to participate in just the national vice presidential debate," he wrote in an email.
On Wednesday, Zerban delivered to Ryan's Janesville office some 50,000 signatures calling for a debate between the candidates. In a story from the Janesville Gazette, Zerban noted that Ryan has debated all his past congressional opponents and this time around should be no different.
"Congressman Ryan has debated all of his previous challengers, and I think that the people in the 1st District deserve the same courtesy this time, especially since he never campaigned on making Medicare a voucher program, so I think he should come back and answer the questions directly in the form of a debate," Zerban is quoted as saying.
Editor’s note: We mistakenly quoted the Rob Zerban ad as saying Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan “ends Medicare as we know it” when the correct quote should be “ends Medicare.” We have corrected the quote and regret the error.