Arkansas Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor released a rare pro-Obamacare advertisement on Wednesday, but while the ad touts the Affordable Care Act, it doesn't mention it by name once.
The ad features Pryor's father, David Pryor, a former senator and governor from Arkansas, speaking about his son's battle with cancer, reports The Washington Times.
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"Mark's insurance company didn't want to pay for the treatment that ultimately saved his life," his father says in the advertisement. The younger Pryor then comes on to highlight the numerous consumer protections contained in the healthcare reform bill.
"No one should be fighting an insurance company while you're fighting for your life," he says. "That's why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for pre-existing conditions."
Pryor is campaigning against Republican Rep. Tom Cotton for the Senate seat, which is one being contested amid a GOP push to retake the Senate this fall. Because Obamacare has proven unpopular among many Americans, Republicans are hoping to turn the healthcare law's failures into votes for the six seats they need to take.
But in red-leaning states like Arkansas, vulnerable Democrats like Pryor are generally shying away from Obamacare. But Arkansas, along with Kentucky, have been praised for how they implemented the law, with a Gallup poll s
howing the two states have been the nation's most successful when it comes to getting uninsured residents to sign up for coverage.
Cotton campaign spokesman David Ray said that while the challenger's campaign admires Pryor's courage in his cancer battle, "we didn't need Obamacare to change insurance regulations."
"We all agree that nobody should be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition," he said. "Obamacare raises taxes on the middle class, has caused millions of Americans to lose insurance plans they were promised they could keep, has doubled or even tripled premiums on families who can't afford it, has caused lost wages and hours at work, and is preventing many small businesses from growing and hiring more people."
Pryor's ad mentions the most popular features of Obamacare, including provisions that keep insurance recipients from losing coverage when they need it, and banning denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, reports The Huffington Post.
His ad comes at a time when Republicans may be cutting back on their attacks on Obamacare as it become less likely that the law will end up being repealed and as some Americans are benefiting from its provisions, reports Bloomberg News
"The Republican Party is realizing you can't really hang your hat on it," said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, told Bloomberg. "It just isn't the kind of issue it was."
Republican pollster Whit Ayres, advisor to several Senate candidates including Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, agrees.
He said the party is reframing many of its advertisements to tie in Obamacare with the economy and jobs, two issues Americans say are their top concerns.
"Obamacare will not be the most important issue," said Ayres. "Republicans will have to target people very directly with their messages."
This is Pryor's first ad touting the heatlhcare reform bill, after other advertising
that did not mention much about his current political career, even though he has been a senator for two terms.
One of Pryor's ads begins with a man saying "I remember when Pryor was attorney general," and woman in the ad recalls that he pursued "scam artists that were ripping off seniors."
However, Republicans have attacked Pryor on his work to pass Obamacare and for his support of President Barack Obama, with one ad showing a young girl spelling out Pryor's name as "O-B-A-M-A."
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