Tags: nelson | healthcare | reid | obama

Nelson Fights Backlash Over Healthcare Vote

Wednesday, 30 Dec 2009 01:44 PM

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Facing declining poll numbers, harsh editorials and angry constituents for his vote on healthcare reform, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska is hitting the airwaves Wednesday night with a 30-second television ad to defend what has turned out to be a very unpopular vote.

“With all the distortions about health care reform, I want you to hear directly from me,” Nelson, a former governor, says in the ad, according to the Journal Star. In the spot, the Senator speaks directly to the camera.

The spot, scheduled to launch during the Holiday Bowl, is sure to receive wide viewing because the post-season college football game features the Nebraska Cornhuskers, according to Roll Call. Nelson’s move comes on the heels of a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted Monday that showed widespread anger over Obamacare.

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The poll showed Nelson, who isn’t up for re-election until 2012, badly trailing Gov. Dave Heineman by 31 points in a hypothetical matchup, 61 to 30 percent. A 55 percent majority of Nebraska voters now hold an unfavorable view of the two-term senator, with 40 percent viewing him favorably.

The health care bill is currently very unpopular in Nebraska, according to the Rasmussen poll. Nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) oppose the legislation while just 17 percent approve.

Nelson was the crucial 60th vote for the Democrats on Dec. 19, just hours before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed a series of three cloture motions to end the debate on his $871 billion health care reform package. Final passage occurred the morning of Christmas Eve, and with Republicans unanimously opposed, Reid needed all 60 Members of the majority Conference to push the bill through.

Reid got Nelson’s support after negotiating to have Nebraska’s portion of the bill’s proposed Medicaid expansion paid for by the federal government in perpetuity. Seen as a special deal, the arrangement is unpopular in the Cornhusker State, at least for now, according to Roll Call.

Nelson is also under fire for accepting compromise abortion language that does not explicitly prohibit abortion procedures from being subsidized with federal funds.

Nelson, who is not up for re-election until 2012, has argued vehemently since casting his votes for cloture and final passage last week that the deals he negotiated on Medicaid and abortion have been mischaracterized.

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