AFP ad targets Hagan on Affordable Care Act

Posted October 29, 2013

— Officials with Americans for Prosperity are launching a new ad criticizing U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan for supporting the Affordable Care Act that analysts say amounts to an opening salvo in her 2014 re-election campaign.

"We want to make sure that North Carolina citizens talk to Sen. Hagan, tell her that there is still an opportunity, and the opportunity is to repeal this law. That's the goal of this ad," said Tim Phillips, national president for the conservative group. "We want to make sure the focus is on the impact of Obamacare."

Although Phillips insisted the ad was part of an ongoing campaign to repeal the technologically troubled health care law, political observers see it as having to do more with politics than prescriptions.

"It's designed to make her look bad," said Kyle Condik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, a project of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "For tax purposes, you can call it whatever you want. It's a campaign ad." 

Condik's publication recently rated next year's 2014 U.S. Senate campaign as leaning in favor of Hagan, a Democrat. Much of that, he said, had to do with the unsettled nature of the Republican field and that the most likely GOP challenger, House Speaker Thom Tillis, was facing a vigorous primary challenge from Cary doctor Greg Brannon. 

On a phone call with reporters Tuesday, Hagan didn't flinch from her support of the health care law. Saying she was frustrated with the technical problems associated with its roll out, she said AFP's criticism of her support for the law made little difference to her.

"I'm not concerned with what outside special interests have to say," Hagan said. 

The ad itself is a 30-second spot that will run on both cable and broadcast television over the next three weeks, Phillips said. 

"Kay Hagan just doesn't get it," intones the female voice in the ad. "Instead of listening to North Carolina, Hagan continues to push for Obamacare."

The ad goes on to make claims about changes Hagan favors for the law, says she favors "Washington insiders" and then urges viewers to "Tell Kay Hagan, that's just wrong." 

"Whether it's money well spent or not, I don't know," Condik said, pointing out that conventional wisdom about television advertising is that its effects wear away after a few weeks. The U.S. Senate election is a year away. 

Still, AFP may be taking a page from Hagan's own playbook. In 2008, Hagan's allies were able to air ads all summer that went unanswered by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, the Republican incumbent whom Hagan eventually unseated.

Although Hagan has yet to fully engage in the campaign, her allies are doing their best to tie potential Republican contenders to unpopular GOP policies.

"I think it makes some sense," said Kenneth Fernandez, an assistant professor of political science at Elon University and the director of the Elon University Poll.

He pointed to his poll's September release that showed half of respondents believe the Affordable Care Act will make the health care situation in North Carolina worse. Only 29 percent of those surveyed said it would make things better.

Tying Hagan to what appears to be an unpopular program could be a sensible political strategy. The trick for Republicans, Fernandez said, would be keeping the health care law's foibles front and center. 

The troubled roll out of the online enrollment marketplace, Fernandez said, gives Republicans and their allies a chance to push those links. While Americans for Prosperity isn't an explicitly Republican group, it is part of a network of conservative groups much friendlier to the GOP than Democrats. 

The Hagan ad is one of two AFP is launching this week. The other targets Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, another Democrat facing re-election in 2014.

"They're going to want to keep Obamacare an issue until next November, and this is how you do it – you just keep hammering at it," Fernandez said.

In addition to the ads, AFP will hammer away on social media, special events and through phone banks and knocking on doors, said Phillips and acting AFP State Director Chris Farr. 

"We want to make sure that the public keeps the issue of Obamacare and its impact on their lives at the very forefront of their minds," Phillips said. "I think ads like this could absolutely impact that. A lot of times in an election season, which I guess we're having next year, issues that aren't really issues pop up. We think Obamacare is one of the biggest, most important issues possible."

While Hagan has called for the government to take more time to implement the law, she said that early troubles have not made her rethink her votes.

"Today, obviously, people are frustrated," Hagan said. "But as this process goes forward, I think the availability of health insurance, looking at prescription drug coverage, looking at the cost, looking at bending the cost curve of medical costs is something that's already been helped because of the Affordable Care Act becoming law."

She credits the law with prompting hospitals to provide better follow-up care to avoid re-admissions.

"A lot of change has already taken place," Hagan said. "I think we'll continue to see that kind of updating the delivery of health care, making it more affordable and making it available to millions of people in our county that never had access to health coverage."


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  • BigBangTheorist Oct 30, 2013

    Certianly, Hagan didn't think she was going to get a free pass on this one did she? Obamacare will not be repealed, but it will be changed big time over the next several years. It will be nothing like its present form within 5 years.

    That's right, Lec. The AFA was merely a starting point, and it SHOULD be changed over time, once all the TP'ers realize that universal healthcare is the way to go. I sincerely HOPE that this law doesn't look the same several years from now.
    Kay Hagan has done a great job as one of our Senators, and I intend to vote for her again. As a matter of fact, until Richard Burr decided to man up and chastise his collegues about the gov't shutdown, I would never have considered voting for him. But, since he had his epiphany I will probably give him the nod when he comes up for re-election, unless he loses his mind again before that time.

  • sixnitepkg Oct 30, 2013

    Ya' gotta wonder just exactly how far to the radical right these tea party people have gone, when WRAL, the birthplace of Jesse Helms' political career, is saying... uhhh, hold on...that just isn't true!

  • mep Oct 30, 2013

    "Kay will realize that votes have consequences. As if he approval rating isnt bad enough. LOL...mep"

    Compare her apporval raing to the Republicans and Tea Party and you will see who is on top. I can tell you it aint the Repubs and Tea Party.
    Gidder Dun

    We shall see.... the Obamacare mess will be hitting hard come 2014....

  • affirmativediversity Oct 30, 2013

    Tying Hagan to what appears to be an unpopular program could be a sensible political strategy. The trick for Republicans, Fernandez said, would be keeping the health care law's foibles front and center.


    No one will have to "keep things front and center" it will be in everyone's face for the next few years...starting with the folks whose insurance is being cancelled...then move on to the folks whose deductibles and copays double or triple...then add in the folks whose hours at work get cut and they're left to "BUY" their own insurance...not to mention the waits and gaps in service that are sure to hit RURAL NORTH CAROLINA very hard...the fact that their Canadian designed website is a complete disaster is almost just icing on the cake that's being pushed into the American people's face right now...

    You go Kay...your "YES" vote caused this...YES YOURS!

  • affirmativediversity Oct 30, 2013

    Kay Hagan supported and voted for this disaster over the very vocal objections of the majority of the people she was suppose to be representing...

    And this isn't the only example of that...there was the Porkfest and the OmniPorkfest and numerous others...

    She has been on the opposing side from the majority of people in North Carolina on every major issue that has come down the pike since the day she took that oath to REPRESENT THEM!!!!

    Even Democrats in North Carolina have to be upset with lack of concern for what they think...she's spent the last 5 years kissing the back end of every progressive liberal from Chicago or Boston she passed while snubbing her nose at anyone 'suspected' of be a Blue Dog Democrat...

    Now...in year 6 with re election right around the corner all of a sudden she's remembered "Oh wait, I'm elect from North Carolina...better go down and smooth things over with the local yokels and lie about what I'll stand up for"

  • marsupial75 Oct 30, 2013

    lessismore, please give a reputable source to cite your claims. Just because you say or think it it doesn't mean it's factually true.

  • lessismore Oct 30, 2013

    90% of democrats don't watch the news and don't know who Hagan is...or could care less. Low information democrats deep voting for democrats as long as the welfare and entitlement checks arrive on time. Most don't even know they have free health care, or could care less.

  • Gidder Dun Oct 30, 2013

    "she lied along with Obama and the rest of the Democrats..."

    You mean just like the Repbulicans and Tea Party have lied also?

  • Gidder Dun Oct 30, 2013

    "Kay will realize that votes have consequences. As if he approval rating isnt bad enough. LOL...mep"

    Compare her apporval raing to the Republicans and Tea Party and you will see who is on top. I can tell you it aint the Repubs and Tea Party.

  • mep Oct 30, 2013

    Obamacare will hang on the necks of EVERY Democrat come next the election. Kay will realize that votes have consequences. As if he approval rating isnt bad enough. LOL.