Obamacare is Settled Law, But How Will Obama Run on It?

National Journal Staff

Earlier this month, top Obama adviser David Plouffe and a group of 16 strategists met in the White House to talk health care. According to three participants, Plouffe promised that, no matter how the Supreme Court ruled on the law, President Obama would not dwell on it.

Indeed, Obama acknowledged the law’s unpopularity Thursday by noting in his address: “I didn’t do this because it was good politics.”

But this ruling presents a second chance. And while the individual insurance mandate may not poll especially well, change—and fighting for it on behalf of the middle class—does. That’s where Obama will take health care.

Top campaign adviser David Axelrod has repeatedly said in reelection strategy sessions that health care is the path for Obama to recapture some of his lost “change” dynamism. Axelrod indicated that, if the Court nullified some of the law, Obama would say he fought for change and was thwarted by stick-in-the-mud justices. Now that those justices have upheld the law, Obama will argue even more aggressively that he fought for and produced epic change that eluded Democratic presidents, such as Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton.

Obama is in a fight for his political life, the poll numbers are down, and the waters are choppy, as Plouffe acknowledged. “We’re in the barrel now,” he said, describing how the president is riding toward the waterfall. But at least, once again, he’s flowing downstream. Read more

Major Garrett


Obama’s Gamble
[National Journal, 6/28/12] In recent months, the president has repeatedly subordinated the concerns of older and blue-collar whites to the preferences of the Democrats’ emerging coalition: He endorsed gay marriage, championed free contraception, legalized some young illegal immigrants, and denounced “show your papers.” 

Adelson Pledges $10 Million to Koch Network
[Politico, 6/29/12] Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who once supported Newt Gingrich, this week pledged $10 million to the Koch brothers’ 2012 efforts. The network plans to spend nearly $400 million to support the GOP.

How the Health Care Ruling Shapes the Campaign
[National Journal, 6/28/12] National Journal’s Michael Hirsh writes that the high court just handed Romney a compliment: your health care law in Massachusetts is not only effective, it’s constitutional. But “The Absurd” Romney is being forced to run away from this victory, even as a campaign that should be about the economy – Romney’s best bet -- turns into one about Obamacare.

Democracy Corps: Obama’s Messaging is Working After All NEW!
[National Journal, 6/29/12] Democracy Corps, the Democratic polling firm that raised alarm bells about Obama's economic messaging earlier this month, found Romney’s favorability ratings growing increasingly negative over the last month. 

Axelrod, Messina Fooled on Supreme Court Ruling
[National Journal, 6/29/12] In the moments after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the health care law came out on Thursday, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod and campaign manager Jim Messina – as well as the president himself -- were fooled by an incorrect CNN headline. 

GOP: John Roberts Shift a Major Boon For Mitt Romney NEW!
[Boston Herald, 6/29/12] GOP officials are saying that the Supreme Court’s decision could backfire on Obama as now Democrats will be forced to defend a tax increase during a bad economy. Plus, irate conservative voters are pumping millions into Romney’s campaign in the wake of the ruling. 

Health Care Ruling Re-Energizes Tea Party
[Roll Call, 6/29/12] For the Tea Party, a movement born in part from opposition to the health care overhaul, Thursday’s ruling is exactly what they had been training for. The behind-the-scene strategists who helped the GOP take the House in 2010 are now preparing for a flood of donations.

Romney Ad Shows Hillary Clinton Attacking Obama NEW!
[The New York Times, 6/29/12] The Romney campaign is running an ad in Ohio attacking Obama for lying about Romney's record and features Hillary Clinton. The clip of Clinton from the 2008 Democratic presidential primary race was used to show that Obama lied about her when she was his opponent as well.

Why Romney Won’t Repeal Obamacare
[New Yorker, 6/28/12] There is literally nothing the GOP could offer in return for repealing the Democrat’s greatest achievement since LBJ’s term, Ryan Lizza writes. Negotiations to repeal Obamacare would be dead before they started if a President Romney and Republicans demanded repeal as a price for a Grand Bargain after the so-called “fiscal cliff” on December 31st.

Holder Contempt Vote May Lead to Dead End on ‘Fast and Furious’
[Huffington Post, 6/28/12] In a nearly party-line vote, the House easily passed a measure on Thursday citing Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt. But Darrell Issa’s failure to secure any damning evidence against top official suggests that his investigation has now largely run its course.

Decision Preserves Obama’s Play For a Historic Presidency
[New York Times, 6/28/12] The high court’s decision preserves Obama’s status as the president who did more to expand the nation’s safety net than any since LBJ. And it allows the president to argue that he has delivered on the most cherished goal of his 2008 campaign: “Change we can believe in.”

In Moments After the Decision, Confusion
[Wall Street Journal, 6/28/12] It took mere seconds for erroneous reports by CNN and Fox News to set off a flurry of confusion among lawmakers, candidates, and even the president. The first word Obama received of the high court’s ruling was a CNN headline: “SUPREME CT. KILLS KINDIVIDUAL MANDATE.”

Romney Campaign Unleashes Coordinated Response to Court Ruling
[New York Times, 6/28/12] Moments after the high court ruled on the health care law, the Romney team unleashed a public relations plan that was nine weeks in the making and designed to make sure that the GOP response to whatever the court decided served Romney’s White House ambitions.

Republicans Pledge Push For Repeal After Health Care Ruling
[Bloomberg, 6/28/12] Romney and congressional Republicans vowed on Thursday to repeal Obama’s health care overhaul, proclaiming that they would try to use the high court's decision to their advantage in November.

Skip Electoral College Math
[National Journal, 6/28/12] Our nation has had 56 elections; in 53 of them, the winner in the Electoral College also won the popular vote. National Journal’s Charlie Cook urges the Romney and Obama teams to stop parsing state-level polls, and start examining national polling data.

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