As the election year begins, Republicans are pondering how best to exploit Obamacare's troubles. And they think they've found an answer: Attack Democrats' credibility. Lawmakers who promised, wrongly, that everyone could keep their existing health insurance plans are about to watch their own words thrown back in their face.
-- The latest example came Thursday, when Americans for Prosperity (whose early rampant spending in Senate races has turned into a real headache for Democrats) launched a seven-figure ad buy targeting Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The spots, two of which deploy video clips of the incumbents saying everyone can keep their health insurance, were direct: The senators are liars.
-- The strategy here is to take a single issue -- Obamacare -- to launch a broader critique of Democratic lawmakers. It's often said that most voters, certainly those closer to the political middle, don't make their decision based on just one issue. But they do cast their vote based on character, and few flaws are more devastating for an incumbent than the belief they're not telling the truth.
-- Some Democrats, like Landrieu, have already responded directly to this charge. Don't be surprised to see more of the same from her colleagues and groups like Senate Majority PAC: Democrats are convinced they can't let Republicans runs these kinds of ads without a strong, well-funded response.
Expect to hear GOP operatives use the word "credibility" a lot more between now and Election Day. Voters care about health care, but character counts, too.