Republicans betting Obamacare opposition will help them win in 2014

Chris Moody
Political Reporter

Republicans are betting on a reliable old horse to anchor their midterm election strategy ― opposition to Obamacare ― which they predict will rise above national debates over immigration reform, extending unemployment insurance and controversial federal spying programs as a key issue in 2014.

The Republican National Committee on Tuesday announced that it would emphasize Democrats’ support of the partisan federal health care law in an effort to bring down sitting lawmakers in November. The official party group began the new year with the launch of a multistate radio ad campaign targeting a dozen Democrats.

The health care law “is going to be the issue of 2014,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters on Tuesday during a conference call on midterm election year strategy.

The new RNC ads point to an article from the website that labeled "lie of the year" President Barack Obama’s oft-repeated promise, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” under the new health care law. (Because the health care law mandates a certain quality level of coverage in every plan, many existing insurance plans were canceled as a result.) Democratic lawmakers extended the promise, and Republicans see it as a golden opportunity for attack.

Click the arrow in the box below to hear audio of the radio ad.

The campaign will target Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Udall of Colorado, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Mark Warner of Virginia in the Senate. In the House, the focus is on Reps. Bruce Braley of Iowa, Gary Peters of Michigan and Tim Bishop of New York and Nick Rahall of West Virginia.

“I like the idea of using their words against them,” Priebus said.

In response, a spokesman from the Democratic National Committee said the party is “happy” to have an ongoing debate over the president’s signature legislation, despite its poor initial rollout late last year.

“Today, more Americans have better, more affordable health care than before thanks to the Affordable Care Act," said Michael Czin, a spokesman for the DNC. "The GOP shut down the government trying to take it all away and on their call today, they again celebrated their opposition to the law. Now the vast majority of Senate Republicans voted against extending unemployment insurance and oppose an increase in the minimum wage.

“If that’s the agenda they want to campaign on, they can go right ahead. That’s a debate we’re happy to have.”

The messaging strategy has Republican allies in Congress as well. Last week, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the chamber would vote on legislation aimed at shoring up security on, the web portal designed to accommodate the federal health care exchange under the 2010 law.

The move will allow the GOP to further emphasize ongoing problems with the site as they continue to call for the law’s repeal.