Vitter, Melancon spar over public option Twitter posts

Two Louisiana Senate candidates recently got into an scuffle about one's stance on the public option in the House health insurance bill.

Democrats have accused incumbent Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) of misrepresenting challenger Rep. Charlie Melancon's (D-La.) position on the public option. But Vitter's campaign has asserted its claims are accurate.

The Louisiana Democratic Party last week sent an e-mail to The Hill accusing Vitter of telling "blatant lies" about Melancon's (D-La.) stance on the public option. Melancon has said he opposed the government-run healthcare plan included in the House healthcare bill. Vitter is a strong opponent of Democratic healthcare reform proposals.

The Energy and Commerce panel member voted against the bill in committee and also voted no during the full House vote on Saturday.

The spat between the two campaigns shows how the healthcare debate has injected controversy into the early stages of next year's midterm elections.

Vitter, however, made these Twitter posts during the past two weeks saying Melancon supports the public option:

Gov't run plan alive. Pg 211 creates Melancon backed gov't run public plan. Studies show up to 120 mil. Americans could be on plan.

Reading Obamacare bill. Pg 94 says by 2013 health insurance must be purchased thru gov't. Gov't option Melancon voted for.

"New" health care bill: $2.24 million per word. Includes Pelosi-Melancon supported government option. Obamacare must be stopped.

"I think it's clear David Vitter has a strained relationship with the truth," Melancon communications director Jeff Giertz told The Hill Friday. "He's cheating the truth."

"Charlie Melancon is imitating John Kerry: he voted for the public option before he voted against it," said Vitter spokesman Joel DiGrado. "The bottom line is that if he was truly against the public option as he has claimed, he would have voted to strip it from the bill when he had the chance."

Added DiGrado, "he’s trying to have it both ways, but Louisianians aren’t buying it -- maybe that’s why he still hasn’t held a town hall meeting yet."

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room