Who knew Roger Ebert was a budding political consultant?
In just those few characters, we see the difficulties Republicans will have -- especially in Blue districts and states -- in running on that repeal platform the teabagger base is demanding. Fact is, this health care reform law (yes, law!) is not as unpopular as they think it is. Already, we're seeing a marked shift in popular opinion in its favor, and the intensity gap the GOP has enjoyed all year should narrow significantly as Democrats finally have something worth fighting about.
Those trends will be particularly pronounced in those solid blue states Republicans need to win to take a significant bite out of the Democratic majorities. Like Illinois:
If elected, U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk is promising he will "lead the effort" to repeal the health care reform package Democrats are working furiously to pass. The North Shore Republican made the statement at a New Trier GOP Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner last Friday.
That may win him plaudits from Rush Limbaugh and some fundraising juice, but Rasmussen's last poll of the race showed that 52 percent supported reform, while 46 percent opposed (and that's with Rasmussen's cooked numbers). You can bet Kirk won't be bragging about "leading" the repeal effort, but that cat's out of the bag (the Giannoulias campaign has Kirk's vow on tape), and he voted against the reform in the House.
Same with Mike Castle in Delaware, where his reputation as a "moderate" has propelled him to a dominant lead in the race for Joe Biden's old Senate seat. Thus far, Castle has dodged the repeal question, refusing to answer whether he's for repeal. Yet he voted with his party to obstruct reform, against eliminating recissions and pre-existing conditions.
The DSCC is certainly pushing Republicans hard to make their feelings on repeal known.
Although many Republican Senate candidates have taken the pledge to repeal health care reform, other have stayed silent [..] Congressman Mike Castle in Delaware, Carly Fiorina in California, Jane Norton in Colorado, Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons in Connecticut, Rob Portman in Ohio, Senator Chuck Grassley in Iowa, John Hoeven in North Dakota, Congressman John Boozman in Arkansas, and Dan Coats and John Hostettler in Indiana.
Those Republicans supporting repeal include California's Tom Campbell, New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey, Florida's Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio, Nevada's Sue Lowden, North Carolina's Richard Burr, Missouri's Roy Blunt, Kentucky's Rand Paul and Trey Grayson, and Louisiana's David Vitter.
The DSCC shouldn't get too excited about Vitter's opposition, since his Democratic opponent Charlie Melancon also voted against it (and remember, money to the DSCC is money to neanderthal Dems like Melancon). However, the repeal position should prove politically advantageous to Democrats in all of the other states on that list.
As to those Republicans who have thus far steered clear of staking out a position, Democrats (and the media) should pressure them to stake out a position. It's a win-win for us. If they bow to reality and refuse repeal, then they anger their teabagger base, costing them intensity and money. But if they cave to that base, then they risk ending up on the wrong end of public opinion, facing ads like Ebert's up above. Either way, they lose.