Republicans have worked hard to stall and kill health care reform while not trying to appear callous to the health care needs of Americans. This strategy was outlined by GOP consultant Alex Castellanos in a well-publicized memo. But earlier today, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) failed to stick to the talking points. On MSNBC, King declared most Americans don’t view reform as “a major issue”:
KING: This is not a major issue among the American people. I think the last poll showed 14 percent see health care reform as being a major issue. …I think this is a metaphor of the president having gone too far, too fast, and really not living up to his campaign promises of governing from the center. But we have to avoid acting as if we won this battle. Right now the voters are turning somewhat against Barack Obama. It doesn’t mean they are coming toward us. We have to play this, I believe, very effectively but not be going for the kill.”
King was referring to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last week that showed health care is the third highest priority for the public, behind job creation (38 percent) and the deficit (17 percent). But as HuffPost’s Sam Stein notes, “Being the third highest ‘top priority’ is hardly synonymous with being a minor issue.” When NBC/WSJ tallied the respondent’s first and second priorities, “health care shot up to a tie for second place, at 32 percent.” In addition, Time Magazine and Gallup found that more than 70 percent of the public wants health care reform.