By Mike Lillis
Howard Dean said Sunday that, despite all the fiery, partisan rhetoric surrounding healthcare reform, the newly passed law will have little influence on November's midterm elections.
"That's not what's the problem — it's not healthcare," Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"You don't hear the Republicans talking very much about healthcare anymore. It's all about jobs and the economy."
After nearly a year of debate, the Democrats passed their sweeping health reform bill in March without a single Republican vote. Since then, both parties have vowed to drill into the issue on the campaign trail — the Democrats touting the new consumer benefits and the Republicans focusing on the new costs and requirements.
But with less than three months before the elections — and with unemployment hovering above 9 percent — health reform has taken a backseat to the economy for members of both parties. And that, Dean said, is how it will stay.
"It's all about jobs and the economy, and it's about the willingness of the Democrats to do something they don't do very well, but they are going to have to this time, and that's fight like hell and get out there and mean it," he said.
The former Vermont governor predicted the Democrats will retain control of both chambers.