Republican congressional candidate Jackie Walorski's new campaign advertisement is sure to pull at some voters' heartstrings in north-central Indiana.
But her Democratic opponent, Brendan Mullen, says it misrepresents her position on Social Security.
Walorski's ad shows her sitting at a kitchen table with a woman named Martha.
"I recently helped her apply for her Social Security benefits," Walorski says as she touches Martha's hand.
"The politicians in Washington need to understand that Social Security is a sacred commitment we've made to our seniors," she says. "In Congress, I'll oppose any cuts in Social Security or Medicare."
Then she reveals, "This is personal to me, because Martha's my mom. I'll always fight to protect her benefits, and yours."
Mullen's campaign responded to the ad by citing a March 2010 radio program in which Walorski voiced support for privatizing Social Security.
In the interview on Tea Party Talk Indiana, she said Social Security "is obviously going bankrupt just like Medicare is and Medicaid. And I think the one thing we have to do is the thing that (President George W.) Bush actually tried to do a couple years ago, which is privatize Social Security and allow people to invest in their own retirement. ... I think privatizing it would allow people to have control of their own destiny and not be reliant on the federal government."
Mullen said investing Social Security funds in the stock market is risky, and it would have hurt seniors when the market plummeted during the recession.
"She's championed that," he said, "and now she's flipping the script."
Walorski wouldn't answer questions Thursday about whether she supports Social Security privatization, but she reiterated that she will not cut its funding.
"I'm on record, and I'll go on record here again," she said. "I absolutely will not support cuts in Social Security and Medicare."
Mullen noted that by 2036, Social Security in its current structure will be able to fund only 75 percent of the program's obligations. Neither he nor Walorski, however, offered any specific solutions to the looming imbalance. Instead, they both talked about the need for bipartisan cooperation on the issue.
Walorski said the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is putting Medicare at risk. "No one's threatening to cut Medicare but Barack Obama," she said, adding that the new health care law cuts $740 billion from the program.
Democrats have responded to that talking point by explaining that total Medicare spending will continue to rise. The cuts Republicans refer to are scaled-back payments to private insurers that will slow the growth of the program's cost over the next decade.
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan included the same amount of Medicare "cuts" or "savings" in the budget proposal the U.S. House of Representatives approved in March, but the plan failed to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Ryan has said in interviews that his proposal would extend Medicare's solvency while the health care law would take money from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. Democrats have warned that Medicare beneficiaries would have to pay much more out of pocket for their health care under Ryan's plan.
Walorski said Thursday that she doesn't know enough about Ryan's budget plan to decide whether she supports it at this point.
Staff writer Kevin Allen: