In a ploy that pundits see as a way to pander to voters in a battleground state, the campaign of former Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, has sent out mailers to Northern Virginians vowing to stamp out lyme disease.
Romney campaigned in Fairfax County last week in an invitation-only appearance before veterans in Springfield.
The mailer, paid for by Romney for President, Inc., calls the disease a "massive epidemic threatening Virginia" and says that the Republican presidential nominee and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will do more to fight the spread of the disease by "improving synergy" between agencies and "increasing awareness" among the public.
Virginia had 756 confirmed cases in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
According to the CDC, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in the United States. In 2010, more than 22,500 confirmed and 7,500 probable cases of Lyme disease were reported in the United States. Lyme disease is passed to humans by the bite of black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks in the eastern United States) and western black-legged ticks infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The Lyme disease bacterium normally lives in mice, squirrels and other small mammals.
The campaign mailers began arriving in mailboxes in Northern Virginia last week, according to a news report by Mother Jones magazine on Friday, headlined "Romney's Plan to Win Virginia? Lyme Disease."
The campaign ploy immediately caught the attention of the Twitterverse. Broadcaster Brit Hume tweeted: "Romney/Ryan have pledged to fight Va. Lyme disease, will their next big idea be a campaign to wipe out stink bugs?"
Political consultant Paul Begala tweeted: "Next: heartbreak of psoriasis. Romney vows to take on Virginia’s Lyme disease ‘epidemic’ in mailer"
A photo of the mailer can be seen here on the Huffington Post, reprinted from the Weekly Standard.
Here's what the campaign mailer said:
It's a disease that begins with small bug...
But Lyme Disease has quickly become the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, devastating our families and our pets.
It's a serious problem - that demands immediate attention.
As president, Mitt Romney will ensure that real action is taken to get control of this epidemic that is wreaking havoc on Northern Virginians.
Ensure that government agencies have an open line of communication and work with patients, researchers, doctors, and businesses in an objective, comprehensive manner.
Work with federal and state health agencies to support Lyme Disease awareness efforts to help prevent further spread of the disease.
More about lyme disease in Fairfax County can be found here.
Romney meets President Barack Obama in the first presidential debate on Wednesday.
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