By Julian Pecquet - 10/06/11 09:00 AM EDT
President Obama is embracing the term “ObamaCare” on the campaign stump, attempting to turn the tables on critics who use it in a derogatory way.
“They call it ObamaCare?” the president told supporters at a St. Louis fundraiser Tuesday evening. “I do care! You should care, too.”
The president’s remarks are clearly part of a White House strategy to reclaim some lost ground on healthcare, taking the fight to Republicans.
“I have no problem with people saying Obama cares. I do care,” the president said in Minnesota, the first stop of his rural bus tour this summer. “If the other side wants to be the folks that don’t care, that’s fine with me. I do care.”
The second most senior Democrat in the House, Rep. John Conyers (Mich.), has been urging Democrats to embrace the term for months. He had even taken to handing out buttons with the words “I [heart] ObamaCare” as part of his campaign to rehabilitate the moniker.
“The fact that a healthcare bill is named after a first-term president who does what two other presidents before him couldn’t accomplish is really a compliment,” Conyers told The Hill in June. “A few years from now, ObamaCare will be looked upon as a complimentary description, rather than what [critics] are trying to portray it as now.”
Conyers’s office didn’t return a call for comment, but he has urged Democrats to stop running from the issue or risk having Republicans frame it to their advantage.
Most Democrats are not fond of the term, however.
Before she took over as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) in February tried to stop Republicans from using “ObamaCare” on the House floor, claiming it violates the chamber’s rules against disparaging remarks against the president.
The DNC and the White House didn’t comment for this article.
Some Republicans have said they use “ObamaCare” as shorthand for the longer and formal name of the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Privately, GOP officials acknowledge they use the term to fire up their base and to needle Democrats.
There are 217 “ObamaCare” references in the Congressional Record this year. On Google, the term produces 12.5 million results.
Many Democrats in tough races tried to hide from the controversial law last year — without much success — as Republicans won the control of the House and significantly cut into the Democratic majority in the Senate.
The Republican presidential candidates have all made repealing the law a centerpiece of their campaigns.
And last week, the administration asked the Supreme Court to rule on the law’s constitutionally, all but ensuring that a ruling on the healthcare reform law will be released during the stretch run of the presidential race.