Throughout President Obama’s first term, House Republicans spent over 80 hours on more than 30 different votes attempting to repeal health care reform. Altogether, GOP lawmakers wasted over $50 million on their repeated failed attempts to take away health care from 30 million additional Americans — and that trend continued during this year’s campaign season, as Republican candidates poured over $20 million into advertisement campaigns against Obamacare.
But candidates on the other side of the aisle actually saw more success with the opposite approach. The Democratic National Convention, when many Democrats finally started touting Obama’s landmark health reform law, kicked off a season of politicians campaigning on the strength of Obamacare’s merits — and ultimately winning their races. The following candidates successfully ran on their support for Obamacare:
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Outside groups spent about $10 million targeting incumbent Sen. Nelson for supporting Obamacare, but he didn’t back down from his vocal support of health care reform. On the stump, Nelson often recounted a story of defending the health law to a critical constituent at a town hall who demanded that Nelson work to repeal Obamacare. According to Nelson, he responded, “Would you like me to repeal the part where you can keep your kid on your family policy until age 26? Would you like me to repeal that part that says that the insurance company can’t cancel you when you’re in the middle of treatment? What about the part that says… if you have a large group health insurance policy that the insurance company now, in law, is going to have to give you 85 cents of health care for your premium dollar?”
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
In a tight race against incumbent Scott Brown (R), Warren repeatedly criticized her opponent for pledging to repeal Obamacare to slash the deficit. Warren also hit Brown for repeating the false GOP talking point that the health reform law “robs” $716 billion from the Medicare program, when the Medicare savings under Obamacare will actually help slow the growth and extend the solvency of the program. In the debates leading up to the election, Warren pointed out, “[Brown] raises the same old argument that there will be $700 billion taken out of Medicare. That’s the same playbook Mitt Romney used a week ago tonight. It was wrong then, it’s wrong tonight.”
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Although Heitkamp ran in a largely conservative state where many politicians may have shied away from ever mentioning the word “Obamacare,” she was actually the first candidate in a competitive Senate race to cut an ad in support of it. She acknowledges she doesn’t agree with everything in the health reform law, but her ad harshly critiqued her opponent for voting to repeal it. “Rick Berg voted to go back to letting insurance companies deny coverage to kids,” she says in the ad. “Or for pre-existing conditions… I don’t ever want to go back to those days.”
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Baldwin was repeatedly attacked in her campaign against Tommy Thompson not only for supporting Obamacare, but also for her push for a single-payer system before Obama’s health reform was passed. Baldwin continued to champion the health reform law, maintaining that she is committed to helping implement it because it is an important step forward for Americans. “Voters have a choice of moving forward with the Affordable Care Act and its implementation or electing a candidate who would rip it up and start all over again from scratch,” she said in the week before the election.
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
During her bid for a Senate seat in Hawaii, Rep. Hirono didn’t hold back from attacking her GOP opponent Linda Lingle for opposing Obamacare. In an email blast to her supporters over the summer, she criticized Lingle for supporting a full repeal of the law, and pledged to hold her accountable for her position: “Linda Lingle wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act — President Obama’s landmark health care reform legislation!… We can’t let her get away with it.”
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Running against Josh Mandel for his Senate seat, incumbent Sen. Brown didn’t hesitate to point out that he feels proud that he voted for Obamacare, presenting a stark contrast to Mandel’s opposition to so-called “government-run health care.” Brown often touted the law’s popular provisions, such as lowering prescription costs for seniors and ensuring affordable preventative care like annual check-ups.