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U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalist at the Oval Office of the White House after the AHCA health care bill was pulled before a vote,  Photo by REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

After failed health care bill, pro-Trump group launches ads supporting fight to repeal and replace Obamacare

WASHINGTON — A pro-Trump group is airing ads in a dozen Republican-held House districts aimed at drumming up support for the White House’s wounded drive to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The $3 million campaign comes during a two-week congressional recess in which GOP lawmakers’ town hall meetings have been rocked by liberal supporters of Obama’s 2010 statute. Underscoring the challenges Republicans face, one poll showed Monday that the public trusts Democrats over the GOP on health care by their biggest margin in nearly a decade.

Leaders averted a planned House vote last month on a bill replacing much of Obama’s law with a GOP alternative because Republican divisions would have ensured its defeat. White House officials complained at the time that while conservative outside groups opposing the bill had pressured lawmakers, there was insufficient lobbying and advertising by supportive organizations.

Talks among White House officials and GOP lawmakers have continued during the break, but there have been no tangible signs that they’ve found a way to reverse what has been a damaging defeat for President Donald Trump and congressional leaders.

The TV and internet ads by America First Policies are running in districts from Arizona to Pennsylvania, the group said Monday. Some are represented by lawmakers who backed the GOP legislation, others opposed it and others hadn’t taken clear public positions.

One ad aimed at Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., urges people to thank him “for standing with President Trump to repeal Obamacare now.” Palmer said after the House vote was canceled that he backed the decision to pull the bill so work on the legislation could continue.

America First Policies is run by former Trump White House and campaign staffers including Katie Walsh, who left her job as White House deputy chief of staff shortly after the leaders’ retreat from the House vote.

A poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center showed that by 54 percent to 35 percent, more people think Democrats do a better job than Republicans handling health care. Though the public has usually given Democrats an advantage on the issue in Pew polls, the two parties were ranked about evenly as recently as 2013.

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