Strategist Urges Democrats: Don't Run Away From Obamacare

Monday, 28 Apr 2014 03:59 PM

By Joe Battaglia

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Even though Republicans are likely to make the midterm elections a referendum on President Barack Obama's failures, one political strategist isn't advising his Democratic clients to distance themselves from the president or his initiatives.

Justin Sayfie, CEO of Sayfie Media and former communications director to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Democratic political strategist Joe Lestingi joined J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV for a panel discussion on the weaknesses of Obama's presidency.

Sayfie and Lestingi agreed that although Obama is not on the ticket, his policies will play a major role in how Americans vote this fall.

Story continues below video.



"Of course the chair of the National Democratic Committee doesn't want this election to be nationalized because we saw what happened in 2010 when the election was nationalized," Sayfie said. "The Democrats lost 60 seats in the House of Representatives and lost seven seats in the U.S. Senate."

Lestingi said he believes that to be a Republican tactic to take away from local issues.

"The goal of the Republican Party is to nationalize this election, and the goal of the Democratic Party is to make it about local issues, and that's going to be a defining characteristic for the campaign cycle this year," Lestingi said. "The more Democrats make this about local issues, about how people are getting more coverage in the states that have exchanges, and that healthcare is more available, and that there are more real local issues that affect everyday lives."

Sayfie pointed to the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act as one issue that could be potentially toxic for Democrats to align themselves with.

"It is true that [the president] has had an abysmal failure with Obamacare, not just from a policy perspective, but from a communications perspective," he said. "Where the numbers really went south on him was last fall when he admitted that people were not going to be able to pick their own doctors after he promised them over and over in their plans, over and over and over again they're going to be able to keep their doctors, they're going to be able to keep their plans, and his personal credibility suffered dramatically as a result of that."

But Lestingi said that does not mean Democrats running this fall should head for the hills.

"I have been advising our clients that we don't want to run away from Obamacare," he said. "Every policy that's in Obamacare is very popular, believe it or not. The policies themselves are very popular. There are a lot of sort of adjustments since the program started. People are starting to get into it. But now since we've hit the deadline, we've hit our goal, we are up at almost 9 million people signed up. The program is proving to be a bit of a success. So come November and October, it's going to be a positive for Democrats. A lot of people are happy with their coverage right now."

Lestingi added that he does not believe that Obama's perceived shortcomings in dealing with overseas issues like Syria, Israel, and Russia-Ukraine will necessarily hurt Democrats.

"His record on foreign policy has been very strong," Lestingi said of Obama. "This presidency's defined by the economic turnaround we've seen since the beginning of the administration. President Bush when he came in had a tragedy happen at the very beginning of this administration, which set the tone. President Obama had the opposite situation where we had an economic domestic issue. The economy's improving, voters are happy with that, and that's what's going to reflect in the end his legacy. Foreign policy is something that is often debated well after a president has already left office, and it's going to look good for him."

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