A WEEKLY STANDARD source living in Northern Virginia passes along photos of the first piece of mail the source has received from the Romney campaign. Instead of focusing on a big issue--say, Obamacare, the debt, or taxes--the mailer is about Lyme Disease:
LYME DISEASE: A MASSIVE EPIDEMIC THREATENING VIRGINIA.
ROMNEY AND RYAN WILL DO MORE TO FIGHT THE SPREAD OF LYME DISEASE.
Here's the text for the rest of the mailer:
It's a disease that begins from a 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.
Encourage increased options for the treatment of Lyme Disease and provide local physicians with protection from lawsuits to ensure they can treat the disease with the aggressive antibiotics that are required.
According to the CDC, the number of Lyme Disease cases has ticked up in Virginia recent years, but the 1,000 or so cases per year in a state of 8 million people don't quite seem to be an epidemic. The number of cases in Wisconsin, a state of 6 million people, jumped from 1,500 in 2008 to 2,500 in 2010, but the issue hasn't been part of the political debate there.
The Lyme Disease mailer seems to be part of the Romney campaign's "micro-targeting" strategy--a strategy that has faced a lot of criticism lately. "Micro-targeting has worked like a charm for Obama’s campaign, which has avoided talking about the president’s record in favor of mobilizing a base of young voters, minorities, and abortion rights-supporting women to carve out a bare majority," writes the Hotline's Josh Kraushaar. "But it’s a questionable strategy for his Republican challenger, who badly needs an overarching vision that appeals to Americans dissatisfied with Obama’s performance in office and struggling in a stagnant economy."
Update (5:53 p.m.): Michael Farris, Chairman of the Virginia Governor's Task Force on Lyme Disease, tells me that the CDC is undercounting the incidence of Lyme Disease, which is difficult to detect. Farris recommends that the CDC stop recommending one test for Lyme Disease (known as the ELISA test), which Farris says is about 35 percent to 40 percent accurate, in favor of another test that's accurate roughly 60 percent of the time. He also says a better set of diagnostic standards are needed. You can read the task force's report here.