(WASHINGTON) — Though the Supreme Court ruling on the Obama administration’s signature health care reform law dominated the news cycle on Thursday, there were already signs that the landmark decision may be merely a footnote to this November’s presidential election.
The court’s decision to uphold the most controversial aspect of the law — the individual mandate — had Democrats hailing the ruling as a “win” and Republicans denouncing it in the sharpest possible terms.
Even before the court handed down its decision, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign was ready to declare victory.
While Romney expressed his displeasure with the ruling on Thursday, he also signaled how he would try to capitalize on it between now and November.
“What the court did not do in its last day in session,” Romney said. “I will do on the first day as President of the United States. And that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare.”
The ruling leaves Romney with one of his favorite stump speech punching bags — one that he can keep on jabbing over the next five months.
President Obama, on the other hand, said in brief remarks at the White House that it was time to “move forward.”
“I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington,” Obama said. “But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.”
But with a recent Gallup poll showing that only six percent of Americans said healthcare was the most important problem facing the country compared to a combined 56 percent who said that either the economy, in general, or unemployment was their biggest concern, it was not surprising that the president pivoted away from health care as he closed his remarks.
“Now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time,” Obama said, “putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.”
And while Democrats celebrated on Thursday, Republicans argued that they had reason to rejoice too.
“This decision will drive Republican voter intensity sky-high,” said Steven Law, president and CEO of the GOP super PAC American Crossroads.
He added, “The last time Obamacare was litigated in a general election, Republicans picked up an historic number of seats in the U.S. House and made big gains in the U.S. Senate.”
And former Alaksa Gov. Sarah Palin observed, “Thank you, SCOTUS. This Obamacare ruling fires up the troops as America’s eyes are opened!”
It is evidently a sentiment shared by the Romney campaign. All day long campaign aides in Boston were live-tweeting the results of their day-long fundraising drive that raked in more than $2 million in a matter of hours on Thursday.
“Just crossed $2 million in donations & 20,000+ donors for #FullRepeal of Obamacare,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul noted.
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