Mass. Republicans Look To Mobilize Around Court's Health Law Decision

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Now that the Supreme Court has upheld President Obama's health care law, Republicans are hoping to mobilize public opinion against the law in an effort to help them win in November.

The man who first put in place the Massachusetts law that inspired the national law, Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Mitt Romney, on Thursday promised to start the repeal of the law on his first day in office.

"As you might imagine, I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision and I agree with the dissent," Romney said. "What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States."

Romney's campaign kept a running tally Thursday of how much money it raised after the court ruled: more than $2 million in a matter of hours.

And Romney was not the only Massachusetts Republican trying to use the court decision to raise money. U.S. Sen. Scott Brown's campaign emailed supporters reminding them they sent him to Washington in part to stop the health care law, and asked them to contribute to his campaign now. Brown issued a statement calling the law "wrong for jobs and the economy."

His opponent in the Senate race, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, predicted that supporters of the law would remain politically energized — and elect Democrats.

"We came up to the edge of the cliff. Shoot, our toes were hanging over the edge of the cliff as everyone faced the possibility that this Supreme Court could just push health care reform right over the edge," Warren said. "Now, they didn't do it, but I think it's been very clear to the American people over the past several months just how important it is who sits on the Supreme Court, and frankly, that means who sits on the United States Senate, because it's the United States Senate that votes on those folks."

Republican Richard Tisei, who is running to unseat Democratic Rep. John Tierney on the North Shore, is also calling for a repeal of the law.

"It's out of the court and it's going to be fought with the voters of the country," Tisei said. "And I think what would be the best result in a perfect world would be repeal this law as it stands right now."

Republican congressional candidates across the state hope to capitalize on what they call an unpopular federal law that is here to stay.

"We need to repeal and replace this bill now, and put into place one that makes sense for Americans so that all Americans do have access to health care coverage and so that pre-existing conditions are covered, but we need state-by-state solutions," said Elizabeth Childs, who is running for Rep. Barney Frank's seat.

Childs' opponent in the Republican primary, Sean Bielat, agreed.

"The Obama legislation needs to be repealed. It needs to be replaced," Bielat said. "The silver lining is that now the issue can be turned back to the Congress."

A recent poll conducted by Western New England University may have some encouraging news for Republicans. It found 7 percent of Massachusetts voters see health care as the most important issue. In a close election, that's enough to change the outcome. But the poll also found that fewer Republicans than Democrats or independents see the issue as important. So if Republicans want to capitalize on the court's decision, they have some mobilizing to do.

This program aired on June 29, 2012.

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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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