Democrats Pull ‘Republicans Support Health Reform’ Ad After Dole Objects
A Democratic commercial highlighting Republican support for health reform has some in the GOP up in arms, while others say the support won't change their minds.
ABC News: "The Democratic National Committee has agreed to pull a TV ad featuring former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., following objections Dole conveyed to the White House that the ad twists his support for a bipartisan compromise for health care reform legislation into something else entirely. The ad, which was set to launch Monday, features Dole and other Republican former officials advocating in general terms for health care reform."
"He found it a bit ironic that 'all I've been doing is urging bipartisanship' and that was used for partisan purposes. DNC to run an ad that I interpreted and I know others did as a backhanded comment about" (Tapper, 10/11).
The Associated Press: The ad quotes a series of Republicans - including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson - saying the health care system needs to be reformed. Dole is quoted saying: 'I want this to pass. ... We've got to do something.' The ad then accuses current GOP congressional leaders as 'siding with the insurance companies' to fight health care reform. Dole told ABC News on Sunday that he objected to the ad's criticism of the current Republican leadership" (10/11).
The New York Times: "'He believes it is deceptive, it was not authorized, and he asked that it be pulled,' Michael Marshall, a spokesman for Mr. Dole, said Sunday morning. 'He was told late last night by the White House that it would not run.' On Sunday morning, the Democratic National Committee, which produced the advertisement, confirmed that it would not be broadcast."
"Mr. Dole's complaint and the quick compliance by the Democrats reflect the intense and delicate politics swirling around the health-care debate as the Senate Finance Committee prepares to vote on its version of the overhaul early this week. The Democrats' quick response suggests that the administration is eager not to offend Mr. Dole and perhaps wants his help in securing the support of some Republicans in Congress" (Seelye, 10/11).
The Louisville Courier-Journal notes that Dole, in Kansas City last week, said "he was asked by current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., not to issue a bipartisan statement calling for passage of health care reform legislation. 'We're already hearing from some high-ranking Republicans that we shouldn't do that - that's helping the president,' Dole said. ... Dole was also quoted as saying that partisanship by his own GOP was behind the delay in reaching agreement on a final health care bill. 'Sometimes people fight you just to fight you,' Dole said. 'They don't want Reagan to get it, they don't want Obama to get it, so we've got to kill it.'
"Dole and former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., later did release their statement, which did not endorse a specific bill but urged 'sweeping changes in health care.'" (Carroll, 10/10).
Related KHN story: Checking In With Bill Frist
Meanwhile, NPR reports that the support for health reform from Dole, former Majority Leaders Bill Frist and Howard Baker, as well as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may not help Democratic efforts: So, is all this pressure from Republicans outside Congress affecting Republicans inside Congress? Not a bit, say California's Darryl Issa, Illinois' Mark Kirk and Arizona's Jeff Flake. Exactly the opposite. 'It's like endorsements in a congressional race: They're usually overrated,' says Flake. He says what's going on here is an obvious political tactic by the Obama administration."
"And, many congressional Republicans point out, the endorsements are actually pretty vague. Frist, for example, is urging Congress to pass a bill - after some changes are made. Issa says Schwarzenegger's support isn't unconditional either. 'My governor's not saying sign [the House bill] or vote for it, and nothing close to it,' he said. But Issa does acknowledge the main message of all those Republicans outside the Capitol: that there is a big opportunity here that should not be wasted" (Seabrook, 10/11).