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

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7143160
DeSoto559460
Harrison388374
Jackson350570
Madison331089
Rankin330679
Lee273670
Forrest248973
Jones248779
Washington225977
Lafayette219139
Lauderdale2059125
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Oktibbeha179952
Lamar171635
Lowndes158058
Neshoba1579104
Panola149930
Sunflower147146
Leflore141081
Warren140750
Pontotoc127816
Pike124051
Monroe123568
Copiah119133
Scott117627
Coahoma116329
Marshall110617
Lincoln110253
Holmes109859
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Yazoo106230
Simpson104646
Tate100437
Union99824
Leake96038
Adams94137
Wayne90421
Pearl River89253
Marion86535
Prentiss86217
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Alcorn82011
George78013
Tallahatchie77321
Newton77224
Winston74219
Tishomingo69038
Chickasaw68424
Tippah67117
Attala66725
Walthall60126
Clarke60046
Clay59518
Hancock58722
Jasper57515
Noxubee55116
Smith53415
Calhoun52112
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46420
Yalobusha43514
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38817
Humphreys37715
Quitman3775
Stone37412
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll31912
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2273
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19676351
Mobile13373292
Montgomery8834184
Tuscaloosa8621118
Madison788178
Shelby597849
Lee589760
Baldwin547750
Marshall394343
Calhoun351544
Etowah349045
Morgan329228
Houston290321
Elmore266748
DeKalb241621
St. Clair232235
Walker231684
Talladega216629
Limestone210120
Cullman189920
Dallas179026
Franklin177129
Autauga176425
Russell17603
Lauderdale171333
Colbert164626
Blount161115
Escambia160824
Chilton158530
Jackson157511
Covington140127
Dale138644
Coffee13486
Pike119810
Chambers116442
Tallapoosa116085
Clarke109116
Marion96429
Butler91239
Barbour8827
Winston74412
Marengo72020
Pickens66214
Bibb65410
Lowndes65327
Randolph64713
Hale63528
Geneva6254
Lawrence62023
Cherokee60813
Bullock60414
Monroe5898
Clay5858
Washington55713
Perry5416
Crenshaw53732
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry5055
Macon48018
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Sumter43819
Cleburne3805
Lamar3672
Choctaw34712
Greene30315
Coosa1713
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