Manchin takes aim at anti-Obamacare lawsuit

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) -- with a shotgun in hand -- calls his Republican opponent "dead wrong" on pre-existing conditions in a recently released campaign ad.

Posted: Sep 13, 2018 10:48 AM
Updated: Sep 13, 2018 11:18 AM

It's just a 30-second spot, but it says everything you need to know about Democrats and 2018.

Senate Democrat Joe Manchin, ambling through a field in hunting clothes, highlights what he calls a threat to West Virginia -- a lawsuit supported by his opponent that Manchin says would take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions.

"He is just dead wrong, and that ain't gonna happen," says Manchin, who has often mentioned his knee replacement as a pre-existing condition during his re-election run.

The ad closes as he hoists his shotgun and takes aim at a paper copy of the lawsuit. No mention of Russia. No talk of a constitutional crisis. No Trump.

After two midterm cycles where they couldn't find their footing or a good message on the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are no longer running scared on Obamacare.

Instead, they are making it part of their identity. Democrats are on the attack, aiming to rebrand the law and their party by making personal and emotional pleas.

While the national story often focuses on Russia, Trump's latest tweet, abuse of power, the disarray in the White House and the constant question about what the Democratic Party stands for, Democrats have opted to largely skip the national topics, focusing instead on the pocketbook issue of health care.

In 2010, Democrats were skipping town halls to avoid voters' rage over impending changes to health care. Now, in ad after ad, they are all about health care.

The stories

North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp mentions her own struggle with breast cancer as she narrates the story of a woman named Denise Sandvick, who has a heart condition. Looking directly into the camera, Sandvick calls out Heitkamp's opponent, Kevin Cramer, for voting "to let insurance companies go back to denying coverage for pre-existing conditions."

"I know Heidi would never do that," she adds.

Physician Rob Davidson, a Michigan Democrat running against Rep. Bill Huizenga, clad in a white doctor's coat says the health care system is "completely broken" and he can fix it.

Clarke Tucker, running in for the House in Arkansas, closes a biographical ad with a mention of beating cancer and becoming "one of the million Arkansans with a pre-existing condition."

A few others running with ads featuring health care as a central theme: Jacky Rosen, running for Senate in Nevada, Amy McGrath running in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District, Kyrsten Sinema running for Senate in Arizona, Haley Stevens running in Michigan's 11th Congressional District.

Overall, according to political advertising tracker CMAG, Democratic spending on health care ads in Senate races is $40.8 million and $38.3 million in House races through September 4, outpacing ad spending on other issues by millions of dollars.

And witness Barack Obama, often derided by progressives as not going far enough on health care, embracing Medicare-for-all as one of Democrats' "good new ideas" during his return to the campaign trail. For years, Obamacare has been an electoral burden for Democrats, leading to massive setbacks among voters. Now, Obama, could be poised to take a delayed victory lap over his signature issue.

What changed?

What's so different now? Polls. A recent CNN poll shows that health care is the top issue voters will consider when voting this November. (The economy is a close second.)

A Kaiser Health poll from July shows that 48% of the public have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act and 40% holding an unfavorable view. The favorable attitude towards the ACA rises to 51% among independent voters.

Now, Democrats are helped by the fact that people are actually benefiting from the law and it's not just a messy hypothetical. Federal data show more Obamacare recipients sticking with their plans. While the actions of Republicans to tear at the fabric of the measure's protections may feel like worlds away in political terms, Democrats are seeking ways to remind voters of the attempts to overturn the law and the consequences at stake.

"The debate over the ACA last year accomplished several things. It helps the benefit of Obamacare crystallize in the minds of voters," said Andrew Bates, the communications director for American Bridge's House campaign effort. "It defined the GOP as the party that was willing to cost millions of people health care ... all to cut taxes for the rich. That made a lasting impact."

Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist, sees a different political landscape, one dominated by everything Trump.

"It's incredibly naive for anyone to think they can make nuanced policy arguments in the current political environment," he said. "The decibel level of the national debate that is largely driven by President Trump completely drowns out any policy messaging campaign this cycle."

In the current climate, it's hard to argue that a policy debate has a "lasting impact," but in ads and messaging, Democrats are reminding voters where GOP candidates stood on the ACA repeal. It's a reversal of 2010, when GOP candidates were unified in their message, and Democrats struggled. Democrats lost the House in 2010 because of Obamacare, and in 2018, they could win because of it.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516486

Reported Deaths: 10299
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison35042558
DeSoto33463432
Hinds32797643
Jackson24926392
Rankin22593405
Lee16523245
Madison14978283
Jones14191248
Forrest13852260
Lauderdale12326323
Lowndes11387193
Lamar10713140
Pearl River9759244
Lafayette8881143
Hancock7848132
Washington7561169
Oktibbeha7234138
Monroe7091179
Pontotoc7060110
Warren6892178
Panola6807135
Neshoba6753210
Marshall6735142
Bolivar6472151
Union645699
Alcorn5950108
Pike5947157
Lincoln5544136
George511080
Prentiss510185
Tippah497983
Itawamba4903107
Scott479499
Tate4786118
Adams4784125
Leflore4756144
Yazoo458492
Copiah458395
Simpson4577117
Wayne443772
Covington435395
Sunflower4331106
Marion4311112
Coahoma4259110
Leake414491
Newton396182
Tishomingo388894
Grenada3796109
Stone366466
Attala341690
Jasper341566
Chickasaw319167
Winston318892
Clay313978
Clarke301995
Calhoun288950
Holmes273389
Smith270852
Yalobusha245847
Tallahatchie232653
Greene225449
Walthall222166
Lawrence220842
Perry214656
Amite210357
Webster206748
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182757
Carroll175841
Jefferson Davis174643
Tunica163939
Benton153439
Kemper145541
Choctaw137827
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132339
Franklin126630
Quitman107928
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97334
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 848779

Reported Deaths: 16185
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1164582005
Mobile744601384
Madison53563738
Shelby38454371
Baldwin38215589
Tuscaloosa36172644
Montgomery34573782
Lee25690264
Calhoun22636520
Morgan22548411
Etowah20075520
Marshall18865318
Houston17795426
St. Clair16968359
Limestone16206220
Cullman16170306
Elmore15952295
Lauderdale15093307
Talladega14267302
DeKalb13095271
Walker12180380
Blount10791193
Autauga10562157
Jackson10221196
Coffee9440192
Colbert9376210
Dale9049192
Tallapoosa7287202
Russell711465
Chilton7098170
Covington6973197
Escambia6969144
Franklin6369108
Chambers5810142
Marion5446132
Dallas5306210
Pike5135109
Clarke486086
Lawrence4852130
Winston4804110
Geneva4656136
Bibb436495
Barbour370880
Butler3445101
Marengo342993
Monroe338566
Randolph338067
Pickens335090
Fayette332285
Henry321266
Cherokee320564
Hale319589
Crenshaw261878
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay253169
Macon246367
Conecuh193562
Coosa186048
Wilcox178538
Lowndes178468
Bullock152845
Perry141940
Sumter139841
Greene130745
Choctaw94628
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