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ICYMI: Democratic Senate Candidates Relish Chance to Run on Obamacare After Trump Floats Repeal [The Messenger]

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The Messenger: Democratic Senate Candidates Relish Chance to Run on Obamacare After Trump Floats Repeal
By Matt Holt, Dan Merica 
December 1, 2023 

  • Democratic Senate candidates across the country are relishing the notion of playing off former President Donald Trump’s renewed calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act if he wins the presidency next year.
  • Trump’s recent pledge…gives these Democrats, many of whom ran on fighting the repeal of the popular health care law in 2018, a chance to retool their winning message from six years ago. Polls show that 60% of adults have a favorable view of the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare.
  • In Ohio, Democrats aligned with Sen. Sherrod Brown jumped on Trump’s comments, using them to attack the three top Republicans vying to take on the incumbent next year. Reeves Oyster, a spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party, pledged Ohio voters “will know that Bernie Moreno, Frank LaRose, and Matt Dolan would attack their access to health care and side with insurance companies.”
  • In Nevada, a spokesperson for Sen. Jacky Rosen’s reelection bid accused Republican Senate frontrunner Sam Brown of “threatening the Affordable Care Act and its protections for pre-existing conditions,” pledging that Rosen would look to “lower costs for Nevada families” and “protect their access to health care.”
  • In Pennsylvania, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey responded to Trump by saying, “You can bet that I’ll always fight back against MAGA Republican attempts to take coverage away from Pennsylvania families, including those with pre-existing conditions.”
  • And in Wisconsin, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, someone who was involved in writing the healthcare law, has long used her role in crafting the bill as a key portion of her stump speech. Andrew Mamo, a Baldwin campaign spokesperson, said the senator has “run on the ACA and won before, and she’ll do it again in November.”
  • Trump’s latest comments surprised some Republicans, many of whom have privately and publicly cautioned the party from talking extensively about healthcare given it was partly to blame for the losses Republicans took in the 2018 midterms.
  • Trump’s comments could put Republican Senate candidates in a tough position.
  • “President Trump was right from day one,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, one of three candidates running for the state’s Republican Senate nomination. “Obamacare continues to be a disaster and I will work with him when I’m in the U.S. Senate to fix the many mistakes of the Obama and Biden administrations.”
  • Eric Hovde, another Wisconsin businessman considering challenging Baldwin, did not respond to a request for comment, but said in 2012 that he would “repeal [Obamacare] in its entirety.”
  • Other Republicans have been in favor of repealing the law for years.
  • In a 2018 interview, Michigan businessman Sandy Pensler — who just launched another Senate campaign Friday — told WSYM that “ we have to completely repeal Obamacare, ACA, whatever you want to call it” 
  • When Brown in Nevada ran for a House seat in Texas, he made fighting Obamacare a top issue of his campaign and said during a candidate forum that Obamacare was not something he (or his Republican opponents) wanted to adopt in “any way, shape, or form.”
  • Former Rep. Mike Rogers, one of the Republicans running for Senate in Michigan, voted against the health care law during his time in Congress, labeled it “disastrous,” and called for it to be undone. Former Rep. Peter Meijer, another Michigan Senate candidate, signed a pledge in 2020 that would called for the repeal of the law.

  • And Kari Lake, the top Republican Senate candidate in Arizona, called for getting rid of Obamacare during her failed gubernatorial run in 2022 – “We need to overturn Obamacare and come up with something better,” she said – and said recently that the law should have been repealed under Trump.
  • “We had an opportunity under President Trump when he first got in to repeal Obamacare and find a better alternative. And unfortunately, at the time, there were too many people secretly working against President Trump at that time,” she said, an apparent reference to the late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain, who voted against the repeal.
  • Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Rick Scott – both Republicans have been top proponents of getting rid of Obamacare, with Cruz shutting down the government in 2013 to try to defund the law. As governor of Florida, Scott was a staunch opponent of the health care law, going as far to say that he would not implement the law in the state. 
  • “I hope and I believe that either it will be declared unconstitutional or it will be repealed,” he told reporters in February 2011. 
  • All of this, said David Bergstein, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, will be central to Democratic messaging in 2024.
  • “Republicans have guaranteed that their agenda to increase health care costs and gut coverage protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions will be a major issue in the 2024 Senate campaigns,” he said. “In race after race, voters have punished Republican candidates for threatening their health care coverage, and they’ll do the same next November.”

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