* The Obama campaign is up with a new ad in six swing states hitting Paul Ryan over women’s health:
The discussion about Ryan has focused almost exclusively on fiscal issues, and this is only the beginning of a sustained effort to mine Ryan’s record to renew Dem efforts to exacerbate the already-widening gender gap.
* Does the tax return issue hurt Mitt Romney? His aides say it’s old news, but Democratic focus grouping finds it still raises “suspicion and doubt” among female swing voters.
It’s worth reiterating the larger strategy here: This is also about creating a frame within which voters will find it more credible that Romney’s policies really would benefit the rich at the middle class’s expense.
* Excellent post by David Firestone on the three word tagline in Romney’s Medicare ad — “not for you” — and how it encapsulates the entire GOP strategy of using Obamacare as a wedge issue.
* Takedown of the day: Matt Miller’s brutal dissection of Ryan’s fiscal fraudulence. Also, a warning:
If Democrats spend all their energy on Medicare — and don’t knock out the GOP ticket’s undeserved reputation for fiscal responsibility — they’ll find themselves in unexpected peril as the race heads to the fall.
The Romney-Ryan ticket will likely be granted the presumption of deficit seriousness by voters (in addition to, or perhaps because of, all the commentators who reflexively grant the same), and Dems need to be prepared for this.
* It’s Friday, so it’s time for Steve Benen’s regular tally of Mitt Romney’s most glaring falsehoods and distortions of the week. A milestone as we hit Volume 30 — and still no shortage of material!
* Paul Ryan releases his tax returns: He paid an effective rate of 15.9 percent in 2010, and 20 percent in 2011. Jed Lewison tweets: “Heh. @PaulRyanVP paid higher effective tax rate than @MittRomney.”
* Politifact, on Obama’s ad claiming Ryan’s plan could hike seniors’ future costs by $6,000: “Mostly true.”
* Steve Kornacki on the real Romney game plan: Throw up enough confusion around Medicare that swing voters give up and move on to other issues. Will the Dem advantage on the issue be enough to offset this?
* Dem leaders are urging House candidates to cite Republican criticism of Ryan’s Medicare plan. Newt called it “right wing social engineering”; citing such comments could underscore how extreme the policy really is.
* More from Dem leaders to their candidates: “Your job for the next 80 days is simple: Take the national debate about Medicare that Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket has given us, and win this battle in your district.”
Whatever happens, it’s good to see Dems proceeding from the assumption that this is a winner for them, as Republicans so often do.
* Ezra Klein: If Ryan/Romney lose, it could badly weaken the GOP’s conservative wing, leaving Obama with a (somewhat) more cooperative Congressional GOP. But if Obama loses: Hello, Ryan Agenda.
* And Todd Akin, the far right Congressman challenging Claire McCaskill, opines that it’s time to take another look at federal civil rights and voting rights laws.
When it comes to Akin’s rigidly narrow views of the proper role of the federal government, we may only be hearing the beginning.