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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: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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