ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Under pressure from conservatives, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said today that GOP candidates will coalesce around a pledge to repeal a health care bill that’s passed by the Democratic controlled Congress this year.
“If the bill passes, I think that's surely one of the things that they should and will run on,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters at a briefing in Washington. “Of course, most of the pain [in terms of generating new revenues] will begin immediately. The game [of enacting reforms], if you look at it as a game, will come years down the road. So I think -- but my personal preference would be to run against the bill and to stop it.”
Asked by ABC News if that means that the Republican argument to voters this fall will be “we’d repeal it,” Cornyn responded: “I believe so.”
Several prominent conservative leaders -- including leaders of the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks , which has been involved in organizing some of the higher-profile Tea Party demonstrations over the past year -- have called on Republicans to rally behind a promise to repeal health care.
But not all Republicans are convinced that it’s the right strategy. A number of prominent Republican candidates for Senate -- including Charlie Crist in Florida, Dan Coats in Indiana, Carly Fiorina in California, Rob Portman in Ohio and Mike Castle in Delaware -- haven’t signed on to the Club for Growth’s “Repeal it!” pledge.
Cornyn said GOP prospects look bright this fall regardless of what happens to health care at this point. If Democrats think passing a health care bill will allow them to change the subject and focus on jobs and the economy, he said, “this will do the opposite. This will make sure that health care is the No. 1 issue that is -- the election is won or lost by in November.”
Added Cornyn: “This whole idea of rubbing the nose of the voter in a bill that they find unpopular and thinking it won't be bad for them is just, to me, a conscious suspension of your power of disbelief.”
He also warned wavering House Democrats that a vote for the Senate-passed bill will leave them explaining why they support some of the unpopular elements in that bill, like the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback.” Those Democrats, Cornyn said, will be forced to “walk the plank” without any guarantee that those provisions will be changed later on through budget reconciliation rules.
“There’s great risk that the White House would embrace House passage of the Senate bill, and forget about reconciliation,” Cornyn said.
ABC’s Matt Loffman contributed to this report.