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Democrats jab Blunt and Gingrich, in town for fund-raiser, for stands on Medicare

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 24, 2009 - National and state Democrats are gleefully jabbing two prominent Republicans in town tonight -- former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt -- for a major fundraising event aimed, in part, at assisting Blunt's bid for the U.S. Senate next year.

As the Beacon first reported last Friday, the west St. Louis County event -- at the Hunter Farms estate of Stephen and Kimmy Brauer -- includes a private reception that seeks $100,400 a couple.

The national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee brought up the fact that almost 1 million Missourians get their health care from the federal Medicare program that Gingrich opposed when he was in the U.S. House.

"Newt Gingrich and Congressman Blunt have a history of opposing programs that provide Missourians with access to quality health care," said Eric Schultz, communications director for the DSCC.

The committee contended that "Gingrich is in Missouri tonight to support Congressman Blunt because they share the same goals of putting special interests first, even if it means hurting seniors.

"For example, Gingrich said in 1995 that he hoped Medicare would 'wither on the vine' and become obsolete,'' the DSCC said in a statement. "Similarly, Congressman Blunt suggested earlier this summer that Medicaid and Medicare were mistakes, saying: 'You could certainly argue that government should have never gotten into the health-care business.' Later this summer, Congressman Blunt clarified his position, saying 'Medicare has never done anything to make people more healthy.' "

The DSCC went on to assert that elderly Missourians "who rely on Medicare deserve a leader who will fight for them, not one who works against them as Congressman Blunt has done."

That jab, of course, is a pitch for the Democrats' choice: Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

Today's attacks likely reflect, in part, a new independent poll by Rasmussen (a GOP-leaning pollster) that show Blunt and Carnahan tied -- an improvement for Blunt, who lagged in earlier polls.

Republicans are buoyed by those numbers, while some Democrats are -- at least privately -- are concerned.

The DSCC didn't mention any poll. Rather,went on to state: "Congressman Blunt has taken over $500,000 from the insurance industry and supported President (George) Bush's attempts to privatize Social Security, which would have cut benefits and risked seniors' retirement in the stock market. According to a recent report by Consumer Watchdog, Congressman Blunt has had more health industry-hosted fundraisers than any other member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "