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Andy Zabel, Published August 06 2012

Voters not fooled by Rick Berg’s empty campaign, cynical attacks

If Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., wants to run the same false attacks he did two years ago, that’s his right. Choosing to do so, however, reveals he’s desperate enough to stay a member of the club in Washington that he’ll say or do almost anything to win.

Let’s rewind to what Rep. Berg said in his 2010 campaign: He pledged to reverse what he called “cuts” to Medicare. Over and over again, independent fact checkers found that claim false. Not one guaranteed Medicare benefit is cut in the Affordable Care Act – the long-term health of Medicare was strengthened and the donut hole was closed, reducing costs for seniors.

What’s cynical about this ad, however, is even according to Berg’s own standard – what he said in 2010 – he has broken the promise he made, and he’s using the issue again in his campaign ads anyway.

In 2011, just months after campaigning against those provisions, Berg voted to keep them, not to repeal them as he pledged. And when given a second chance in 2012, he doubled down and broke his promise again. Two years. Two broken promises.

Moreover, let’s not forget his support for privatizing Social Security and his decision to march in lockstep with his Washington party leaders to end the guarantee of Medicare, re-open the Medicare donut hole and raise costs by thousands on our seniors.

What’s just as troubling is the pattern from Berg since he won the primary – three negative ads full of lies and distortions, attacking Heidi Heitkamp.

Even the context of his most recent ad is a lie. Claiming Heitkamp is on the attack? Unlike Berg, who has already put thousands of dollars behind his attack ads, Heidi’s TV ads have been positive messages laying out how she’ll be an independent voice for North Dakota.

Heitkamp has challenged Berg to seven debates, and even though his campaign promised to set a schedule almost two months ago, Berg continues to stall and kick the can down the road – much like Congress itself on the important issues these days. No wonder he fits in so well in Washington.

When Berg ducks Heidi’s debate challenge and lets his false attack ads do the talking, it’s no wonder voters, by an overwhelming 19 points, say he is running the more negative campaign.

Voters won’t render a final verdict until November. But for now, it’s clear that they are rejecting his empty campaign and his record of toeing the party line, even when it hurts North Dakota.

Zabel is executive director, North Dakota Democratic-NPL.