Pennsylvania Dems Take President's Advice, Defend Obamacare

Image: Pennsylvania Dems Take President's Advice, Defend Obamacare Rep. Allyson Schwartz

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 07:30 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Unlike many in their party across the country, Democrats in Pennsylvania vying for governor are embracing Obamacare, Politico reports.

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz has perhaps taken the boldest stand in favor of the law, according to Politico, touting her work to get it passed and slamming incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett for refusing to accept federal Medicaid expansion. She's also attacked fellow primary contender Tom Wolf, a wealthy businessman she has been trailing in the polls.

Wolf responded by tweeting a link to an op-ed he wrote about healthcare, as well as other messages of support for the law, while former state environmental protection director Katie McGinty's campaign accused Schwartz of having actually worked to "weaken" the law, making Schwartz's latest position "mind-boggling." Wolf characterized Schwartz as a "frenemy" of Obamacare.

Schwartz's strategy, according to pollster Chris Borick of Muhlenberg College, is to appeal to the liberal base in the May 20 primary and hope the message carries to November.

A Muhlenberg College poll released last week found that 64 percent of Democrats approve of Obamacare, compared with 18 percent who disapprove.

"The candidates are trying to carve out identities that might resonate with perhaps not a majority of voters in the party, but a strong cohort," he said. "The law still plays well among most Democrats, and especially liberal Democrats who are the ones that are going to show up during primary elections."

It's a risky proposition, since statewide polling shows the president's signature legislation has an approval rating of just 39 percent, with 47 percent disapproving. Just 19 percent of Republicans favor it.

Last week, Obama asked Democrats to "forcefully defend and be proud of the law," according to Politico.

Schwartz's decision could backfire in November's general election, according to Politico.

Attacking Obamacare is the GOP's primary message and one the party expects will resonate with voters in Pennsylvania and other swing states. The airwaves have been abuzz with negative Obamacare ads and the volume will pick up as the general election approaches.

Being an Obamacare cheerleader has increased Schwartz's media profile, according to NPR, which notes she's the first Democrat running statewide to "speak so unabashedly in support of" Obamacare.

But because of the law's unpopularity nationwide, NPR reports it's unlikely other Democrats will follow in Schwartz's footsteps.

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