President Biden’s campaign was given a much-needed shot in the arm this week from former President Trump’s repeated threats against ObamaCare.
Trump handed Democrats a gift when he suddenly revived threats to replace the 13-year-old Affordable Care Act if elected president, giving the Biden campaign a week’s worth of material as it shifts to attack the GOP front-runner directly.
When Trump posted on his social media platform that he was “seriously looking at alternatives” to the law and that the failure to repeal it while he was in the White House in 2017 was “a low point for the Republican Party,” the Biden campaign jumped into action.
A campaign source told The Hill that they quickly made the decision to “juice it out as much as we possibly can.”
The campaign has gone provision by provision this week to highlight the most popular parts of ObamaCare, reminding voters what would be at stake should the law be changed.
“Trump certainly gave us sufficient time to plan and make this a weeklong endeavor,” the source said.
On Tuesday, the campaign argued that a second Trump presidency could strip insurance from up to 135 million Americans with preexisting conditions.
And on Wednesday, the Biden campaign underscored that nixing ObamaCare would mean Americans under the age of 26 would be kicked off their parents’ insurance plans, warning that could lead to “financial ruin for a whole generation of young, uninsured Americans.”
On Thursday, they plan to focus on the impact repealing ObamaCare would have on Black and brown communities, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The much-needed jolt for the Biden campaign came amidst months of dismal approval ratings for the president as well as some recent surveys in which he polled behind Trump, though within the margin of error. But that was especially problematic when a poll in key swing states needed to notch the general election showed that Trump led Biden in five out of six of them.
The Biden campaign, in focusing its effort in such swing states, is running health care-centered TV ads this week as part of an effort to draw more attention to Trump’s claim and highlight the president’s health accomplishments, a campaign staffer said.
“Donald Trump just can’t help himself and continues to remind people just how awful he is on the issues that matter to everyday Americans. And him saying he wants to repeal ObamaCare is another thing we’re all over right now,” a Biden campaign aide told The Hill.
Dean Rosen, a Republican lobbyist and former chief health care adviser to former Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), suggested Trump and other GOP candidates move on from the matter.
“History has not been kind to politicians who have tried to radically remake the health system or take away people’s coverage — no matter how imperfect,” Rosen said. “Unless and until the GOP coalesces around a workable and politically popular alternative, presidential candidates would be wise to focus on reducing costs and increasing access to doctors, nurses and health care services especially in rural and underserved areas.”
Despite such warnings, Trump has doubled down on restarting the ObamaCare fight by proclaiming he would replace the law with something “much better.”
“Obamacare Sucks!!!” he wrote on Truth Social.
While on the campaign trail this week, Biden made it a point to bring up Trump’s comments.
“Donald Trump announced his latest idea to his campaign. I hope you didn’t miss it … he wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said Tuesday at a fundraiser in Colorado. “If Trump gets his way — it’s all gone.”
Biden has increasingly attacked Trump directly through his campaign, though he’s careful not to name Trump when he’s giving public remarks as president, referring to Trump instead as his predecessor.
The campaign is also enlisting high-profile surrogates to aid in its refocus.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) in a Biden campaign call cast a second Trump presidency as a dire threat to Americans’ health.
“When he says he’s going after our health care, believe him,” Pelosi told reporters. “Let me be clear that in 2024, the Affordable Care Act and all of its transformational benefits will be on the ballot. The American people will need to know that if Donald Trump wins next year, he’s coming for your health care.”
Cooper noted that the stakes for voters are clear.
“Health care is a great opportunity to compare the best of Biden to the worst of Trump,” Cooper said. “Health care is an area where President Biden has been shining and Trump is going to hurt millions of Americans if he’s successful in this spirit.”
In 2017, Republicans failed to repeal ObamaCare despite their control of Congress and the White House at the time largely because they couldn’t agree on a viable alternative.
Democrats retook control of the House in 2018 after making the GOP repeal efforts the center of their campaigns, promising to protect Americans from losing coverage for preexisting conditions.
Political strategists said relitigating the repeal-and-replace fight has no upside for Republicans.
“Republicans, you know, they’ve got to figure out what’s their message and then deliver it consistently. And I don’t think the message is, ‘We ought to go repeal ObamaCare,’” said Joel White, a GOP health strategist.
Thirteen years after its passage, ObamaCare is more popular than in 2017, with a sprawling reach that goes beyond the U.S. health system. It mandates birth control coverage, free preventive care and even requires many chain restaurants to post the calories of menu items.
Close to 60 percent of adults now have a favorable opinion of the law, according to a KFF tracking poll from May.
“It seems retro to have an ObamaCare fight, but the Biden campaign is right to jump on this. It helps motivate both bases and is a net positive for Democrats,” said Ivan Zapien, a former Democratic National Committee official.
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