“Obamacare” has long been the sole term by which Republicans refer to health care reform — an attempt to brand the legislation as a big, amorphous piece of bureaucracy that can’t be untethered from its namesake, President Obama. The theory went that as long as the GOP could keep associating the law with the man responsible for it, President Obama, the more they’d be able to wield it as a weapon against Democrats at the ballot box.
On Friday the Obama campaign turned that strategy on its head. Obamacare? Bring it on.
The campaign launched a Facebook feed Friday featuring a big “I Like Obamacare” logo. The social network rollout also included a Twitter hashtag that the campaign reported become the top trending topic in the world within hours. On the web, an “I Like Obamacare” frontpage popped up on the Obama campaign website.
In an email to supporters, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said it was time for Democrats to turn the “Obamacare” insult into a badge of honor.
“I’m proud of it — and you should be, too,” he wrote. “Here’s why: Because it works.”
Obamacare means never having to worry about getting sick and running up against a lifetime cap on insurance coverage. It gives parents the comfort of knowing their kids can stay on their insurance until they’re 26, and that a “pre-existing condition” like an ear infection will never compromise their child’s coverage.
“[N]ext time you hear someone railing against Obamacare, remember what they’re actually saying they want to take away,” Axelrod wrote. “And, today, stand with me in saying, “Hell yeah, I’m for Obamacare.”
Conservatives noted that Obama’s popular hashtag was “promoted,” meaning it was a paid advertisement. And a cursory glance at Twitter Friday reveled that man of the tweets using the hashtag came from critics trying, once again, to hijack a Democratic twitter effort.
Republicans weren’t impressed with the new tack from the Obama camp.
“It’s telling Team Obama picked like Obamacare and not love it,” the RNC told TPM in an email. “The president has been hiding from his signature legislation on its 2 year anniversary because it failed and Americans have had enough. This is a pathetic attempt for Team Obama to play clean up but even then, GOP grassroots are more enthusiastic against Obamacare and have taken over. The truth is two thirds of Americans want to get rid of all or part of Obamacare and Team Obama knows that.”
It’s clear at this point that by Obama and his campaign intend to aggressively defend the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. Nor is it the first time the White House has worked to turn the pejorative “Obamacare” label on its head — Obama himself tried to claim “Obamacare” for himself back in 2011, telling a crowd in Dallas, “”Folks go around saying ObamaCare. That’s right — I care. … That’s their main agenda? That’s your plank? Is making sure 30 million people don’t have health insurance?” But the latest attempt to reclaim the term comes as Republicans are accusing the president of shying away from the legislation on its second anniversary.
But the law has actually played a relatively prominent role in Obama’s campaign roll-out. A good portion of Obama’s campaign documentary was devoted to the less controversial aspects of the law, and Obama’s made it clear he’s ready to debate the law’s coverage mandate with likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the fall.