Matt Whitaker took issue with three of his Republican U.S. Senate opponents last week by lumping them in with Congressman Bruce Braley and implying that they support Obamacare because they have not signed a pledge to defund the unpopular legislation.
Whitaker’s attack is the first bit of negative campaigning in the young Republican primary, but it surely isn’t going to be the last. What’s a bit odd about Whitaker’s attack is that he’s not the first candidate to sign the pledge, Sam Clovis announced his support of the pledge five days before Whitaker, but just because one hasn’t signed the pledge doesn’t mean they support Obamacare.
Defunding Obamacare is currently in vogue because of the looming continuing resolution debate to keep funding the federal government. Under current law, the federal government is funded until September 30th, meaning a continuing resolution needs to be passed to keep the government from shutting down.
It’s also odd to see Whitaker attack his fellow Republican candidates on Obamacare since he is the one Republican candidate in the race who has publically stated that he didn’t support its all out repeal. In an interview with the Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich, Whitaker stated that Obamacare needed to be “reformed and fixed.’
“We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Whitaker told Obradovich, “I think it’s a very easy sound bite to say repeal Obamacare, or repeal the Affordable Care Act, but there are actually some good things. Very few, but there are some good things.”
Now one of Whitaker’s opponents is calling him a desperate candidate. State Senator Joni Ernst, one of the three Republicans Whitaker attacked, took to Facebook on Sunday to criticize Whitaker.
“Recently I have come under attack by a desperate opponent who has made misleading and false accusations as to where I stand on important issues such as Obamacare. Let me again be clear: I am committed to defunding, repealing, and replacing Obamacare with free-market solutions because that is the only way patients are truly the priority in our healthcare system. Join me in helping me spread my message: Obamacare needs to go. ”
Whitaker’s aggressiveness towards his opponents isn’t necessarily a bad tactic to employ, but attacking his opponents on Obamacare probably isn’t the smartest issue to engage his opponents on due to his own recent comments. While Whitaker reversed his position on Obamacare since his interview with the Register, his previous stance will give pause to a number of Republican primary voters.
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