Eight years ago, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia promised to “repeal the bad parts of Obamacare” in a special-election ad that features him touting his folksy bona fides and literally shooting a “cap and trade” bill designed to combat climate change.
Now Mr. Manchin is reprising his famous ad to campaign on preserving the parts of the health care law that people really like.
“I might be a few years older, but I’ll still take on anyone who messes with West Virginia,” he says, wielding his firearm once more in the 30-second spot. “Now the threat is Patrick Morrisey’s lawsuit to take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions. He is just dead wrong, and that ain’t gonna happen.”
Out in a field, Mr. Manchin shoots right through a copy of the lawsuit filed by Mr. Morrisey — West Virginia’s attorney general — and 19 other state Republicans who say Congress invalidated Obamacare by zeroing out its “individual mandate” penalty for shirking insurance.
The plaintiffs want a federal judge in Texas to strike down the 2010 program, including parts that require insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions and charge them the same as healthy people.
U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor is set to rule any day on their request for a preliminary injunction that would stop the law in its tracks. He appeared skeptical of Democratic attorneys general’s arguments against the suit, though any ruling against the law would be appealed to higher courts.
Mr. Manchin, fellow Democrats and even some Republicans say the lawsuit misinterprets Congress’ recent changes and would leave sicker Americans in the lurch, if successful, since the GOP never passed an alternative to Obamacare.
Mr. Manchin says the GOP should stop its attacks on the program and preserve existing protections in law, reflecting how far the politics around Obamacare have changed from his special-election bid in 2010.
Mr. Morrisey, who’s banking on President Trump’s popularity in West Virginia to boost his chances in November, says he wants to expand the GOP majority so they can pass a bill that guts Obamacare but still protects the sick.
He says the point of the lawsuit is to clear the decks so Congress will be prodded to act.
On Monday, his campaign slammed Mr. Manchin for defending Obamacare and styling himself as a defender of the Second Amendment in the new ad.
“West Virginia has been hurt by lying liberal Joe Manchin putting the interest of Washington liberals ahead of the health care and gun rights of West Virginians,” Morrisey campaign spokesman Nathan Brand said.
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