By Justin Sink
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday dismissed the notion that the rocky rollout of President Obama's signature healthcare law narrowed Democrat Terry McAuliffe's victory in Tuesday's Virginia gubernatorial election.
“For the first time in 40 years, a candidate from the incumbent president’s party won that office. ... The Republican candidate in that race made his name as an opponent of ObamaCare, campaigned on the repeal of ObamaCare, and lost," Carney said.
McAuliffe's 2.5-point victory over Ken Cuccinelli was closer than projected by many polls in the lead-up to the election, leading Republicans to suggest the problems plaguing the ObamaCare rollout had hurt his campaign.
"Despite being outspent by an unprecedented $15 million, this race came down to the wire because of ObamaCare," Cuccinelli said in a speech. "That message will go out to the entire country tonight."
The Virginia attorney general made the healthcare law the central issue of his campaign in the closing weeks of the race, repeatedly looking to tie it around McAuliffe's neck.
McAuliffe has said that he would pursue expansion of Medicaid for some 400,000 low-income residents in the state once taking the governor's mansion. That expansion was originally mandated under ObamaCare, but a Supreme Court decision allowed governors — including Virginia's Bob McDonnell (R) — to opt out.
President Obama is expected to push other governors to accept the Medicaid expansion in a healthcare event Wednesday night in Dallas.
"We’re obviously in discussion with governors and legislators from states around the country that have not yet decided to expand their program," Carney said.