Voters in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin overwhelmingly favor traditional Medicare over the voucher program proposed by the Republican presidential ticket, but Mitt Romney has made slight overall gains in recent weeks, according to a New York Times/CBS News/Quinnipiac University poll published Thursday.
Florida, with its large retirement population, has been in the campaign spotlight since Romney picked Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate two weeks ago.
Romney has said his version of Medicare reform closely mirrors that of Ryan’s, who has proposed introducing a premium voucher system for new Medicare enrollees, beginning in 2023.
The new program would not involve current seniors and would be optional for future seniors, but there is a cap on the annual increase in voucher value. If fee-for-service Medicare became more expensive than the voucher, a senior who elected to enroll in traditional Medicare would have to pay the difference.
Future seniors also could be left with higher out-of-pocket expenses if the rise in the cost of private insurance outpaced the rise in voucher value.
In the poll, Floridians rejected the proposed voucher program, 62 percent to 28 percent.
Yet, Romney cut in half the 6-point deficit he faced in an Aug. 1 survey and now trails President Obama 49 percent to 46 percent in the Sunshine State. The 3-point gap is barely outside the poll’s margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.
Florida voters older than 65, the Medicare eligibility age, back Romney 55 percent to 42 percent.
In Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, Romney has turned what was a 6-point deficit on Aug. 8 into a virtual dead heat, trailing 49 percent to 47 percent.
Ohio has not changed since Aug. 1, when Obama led Romney, 50 percent to 44 percent.
The poll was conducted between Aug. 15 and 21 and included about 1,200 likely voters in each of the three states.
Texas official warns Obama reelection may spark ‘civil unrest,’ UN takeover
AUSTIN, Texas — A Republican county emergency-management official in Texas said unrest may erupt if President Obama is reelected, that the president would respond by sending in United Nations troops, and that he needs more sheriff’s deputies to deal with it.
“He’s going to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the UN,” Lubbock County Judge Tom Head said this week on a Fox News television station in the northwest Texas Panhandle region. “Then what happens? I’m thinking worst-case scenario — civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe.”
“We’re talking take up arms and get rid of the guy,” he said. Obama’s response? “He’s going to send in UN troops. I don’t want them in Lubbock.”
The White House declined to comment on Head’s statements. The county Democratic Party released a statement calling the comments “pure paranoid fantasy” and said Head should resign.
Head elaborated in a video interview Wednesday with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, which serves the county of about 284,000 people.
As the county’s chief emergency-management official, Head told the newspaper, he must prepare for worst-case scenarios, which he said included Obama’s reelection, Democrats retaining control of the Senate, and a Category 5 hurricane.
“Do I think UN troops are going to be rolling into Lubbock? Probably not going to happen,” he said. “F-5 hurricane? Probably not going to happen.”
Head offered the scenarios as partial justification for a 1.7 percent property-tax increase to hire more deputies and add other law-enforcement resources.
Ex-ambassador to Afghanistan faces charges of drunken driving, hit-run
SPOKANE, Wash. — Former US ambassador Ryan Crocker is facing hit-and-run and drunken driving charges in Washington state after striking a semi truck when he tried to make a right turn from the left lane, authorities said Thursday.
The 63-year-old Spokane native registered a 0.160 blood-alcohol content — twice the legal limit — and a 0.152 in successive breath tests when he was arrested Aug. 14 in Spokane Valley, State Trooper Troy Briggs said.
Crocker, who was driving a 2009 Ford Mustang convertible, was stopped in the left lane at a red light. When the light turned green, he tried to turn right across the path of the semi in the right lane, Briggs said.
The vehicles collided and Crocker’s car spun out, but he kept driving, Briggs said. A witness followed him to a nearby bank and called police.
“He was very cooperative, but obviously intoxicated,” Briggs said.
Crocker pleaded not guilty in court the next day, KXLY-TV reported.
His lawyer, Julie Twyford, did not immediately return a call.
Crocker retired from the foreign service last month after serving three decades in some of the world’s most dangerous hotspots, most recently in Afghanistan.
Concerns of storm, Paul supporters may lead to early GOP nomination
TAMPA — Mitt Romney’s quest to formally win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination may come to fruition two days earlier.
Plans are underway for Romney to be nominated Monday — not Wednesday as previously thought — because of a potential threat from Tropical Storm Isaac and concerns about a possible disruption during the roll call vote from Ron Paul supporters at the Republican National Convention next week.
It is a change in the script from previous conventions, with the formal nomination on the eve of the acceptance speech. It is a formality, and Romney will still deliver his acceptance speech Thursday evening, but the change would carry significance because Romney could accept general election money sooner.
‘‘The roll call will take place on Monday,’’ said Jim Dyke, a convention spokesman, who dismissed suggestions that the schedule had changed.
As soon as Romney officially becomes the party’s presidential nominee, he can have access to the general election money he has spent months raising, putting him on the cusp of tapping into a significant financial advantage for the final two months of the race.
NEW YORK TIMES