But Democrats said they have little choice because they expect Obama's much higher ad spending in recent months to be swamped by commercials supporting Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the final weeks of the campaign.
“We're never going to match them dollar for dollar on the airwaves,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a group of elderly party activists last week. “The way we match them is through people on the streets, through phone calls, through Facebook, through outreach.”
Democrats are using the same predominantly emotional approach to attack Romney's healthcare plans, which include a vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with more market-based approaches.
For instance, Carol Berman, a senior from the swing state of Florida, told attendees and a national television audience that she feared the Republicans' proposal to add an insurance subsidy component to Medicare, citing doubts that it would cover spiraling healthcare costs.
Republicans also are making emotional appeals on healthcare, including a slate of ads and robocalls released in August that blasted the healthcare law for cutting $716 billion from Medicare over the coming decade even as it expanded the federal government.
One recorded call said Democrats support a healthcare law that will “cut Medicare to pay for their national healthcare experiment.”
Such attacks obviously concern Democrats, who blamed their historic 2010 congressional losses on their failure to obtain public support for the law. Party leaders instructed activists gathering in Charlotte, N.C., last week to avoid describing any of the healthcare programs as part of the government. Supporters also were coached to frame the Medicare cuts as extending the program's solvency by reducing overpayments to insurers and fighting fraud.
Meanwhile, some experts say many of the Democrats' criticisms against the Republican healthcare plans are either questionable or omit information.
For instance, FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, criticized the repeated assertion that Romney's Medicare changes would cut benefits for Medicare beneficiaries. Romney's plan would eliminate new Medicare preventive-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act but would not cut “any of the traditional benefits provided by Medicare,” the project said.