Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported that Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) had told right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt that if the GOP can “block” or “stall” President Obama’s health care reform, it would mean “huge gains” for Republicans in the 2010 elections. Inhofe also told radio host Janet Parshall that blocking President Bill Clinton’s health care plan led to “the 1994 Republican takeover of the House and the Senate,” which he hopes to repeat with Obama.
ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported last night that the White House planned to “assail” Inhofe’s remarks, though it was unclear whether Obama himself would comment on them:
Whether or not President Obama will personally mention Inhofe’s remarks is as of now unclear, but other White House officials surely will, sources say.
In an interview with NPR, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel took a shot at Inhofe’s desire to play politics with health care reform:
EMANUEL: I’m OK with politics, as you well know. You know, today Senator Inhofe, I don’t have the exact quote, but basically the thrust of the quote was the political importance of defeating this because of what it would do to President Obama. They’re seeing it in political terms, and they’ve decided that if they can beat the president on health care reform, they’ve scored a big political victory. But what they’ve also guaranteed in policy terms is that you have the status quo. I actually appreciate what Senator DeMint said and Senator Inhofe. I’m different than everybody, I’m not going to criticize them. I compliment them. They’re honest. Now –
INSKEEP: Are you telling Democrats there’s actually some truth to that — if you guys don’t stick with us on this it could be a disaster for the Democratic Party –
EMANUEL: No, no. They’re being honest about what they see the stakes. And what I find interesting, I haven’t heard a lot of people in their party criticize them.
The White House previously came out swinging against Sen. Jim DeMint’s claim that the defeat of health insurance reform would be Obama’s “Waterloo” because it would “break him.” “This isn’t about me. This isn’t about politics,” said Obama. “It is about a health care system that is breaking American families, breaking America’s businesses and breaking America’s economy.”