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Supreme Court Ruling Moves to Campaign Trail

Mitt Romney; photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mitt Romney speaks in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

“It should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics,” President Obama said Thursday, using the Supreme Court’s blessing of his signature legislation to re-frame the health care debate in terms of how Americans can be helped by the law.

“I did it because I believed it was good for the country,” the president said. “I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.”

His campaign followed suit, with aides in Chicago holding what was described as an emotional meeting to begin telling the Affordable Care Act story in a different way.

First lady Michelle Obama, who was first to hit the campaign trail after the landmark decision was announced, told supporters in Memphis that the president needs them to outline exactly what’s in the bill, now that it’s officially the law of the land.

“[P]lease, please tell people about the historic reform this president passed,” she said, calling the ruling “truly a victory for families all across this country” as fans applauded.

As she ticked off what the law does, Mrs. Obama implored, “Help them understand.”

The re-election campaign is going to need a lot of assistance as it faces a galvanized Republican base. Mitt Romney’s team watched money pour in following the decision, with $2.5 million coming from more than 20,000 donors in just eight hours.

His pitch to voters after the court’s ruling was simple: “What the Court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States. And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare,” he said.

The likely GOP nominee, who signed into law a similar measure when he was governor of Massachusetts, said the national overhaul “was bad policy yesterday. It’s bad policy today.”

“Obamacare was bad law yesterday. It’s bad law today,” he added.

(Don’t miss Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker piece on why he thinks Romney would not actually repeal the law as president.)

Romney also sought to connect the health care matter to the economy, which despite Thursday’s ruling will almost certainly remain the driving issue of the campaign.

“If we want good jobs and a bright economic future, for ourselves and for our kids, we must replace Obamacare. That is my mission. That is our work,” Romney said. “Help us defeat Obamacare. Help us defeat the liberal agenda that makes government too big, too intrusive, and is killing jobs across this great country.”

House Republican leaders scheduled a July 11 vote to repeal the health care law. With Democrats in control of the Senate, the repeal effort stands little chance of getting beyond the House.

In an appearance Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the upcoming election will help decide the fate of health care reform.

“What we have now though is the challenge of repealing this law and it is about this election,” Rep. Cantor said. “If we can see a Republican victory in the Senate, [then] the Congress, I am convinced, will overturn the Obamacare law through the reconciliation process with the 51-vote margin.”

With the court upholding the individual mandate to purchase insurance by interpreting it as a tax, Republicans resurfaced a White House blog post that insisted it was “an old, tired refrain that the health reform bills in Congress would raise taxes on the middle class.”

Democrats also have their line of attack, reminding voters that what Romney did in Massachusetts as governor “became the model” for what the president did nationally.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina accused Romney of “callously promising to repeal national reform and ‘kill it dead.'”

Voters should get used to these political arguments, because they won’t be going away. On the NewsHour Thursday, Christina chatted briefly with Judy Woodruff to outline the political fallout from the decision. Watch that here or below.

The NewsHour went wall-to-wall with court coverage, from live-streamed reactions to capturing the mood outside the courtroom. Katelyn Polantz distilled Marcia Coyle’s quick take after the decision was handed down. Elizabeth Summers, Jason Kane, Kelly Chen and Meena Ganesan annotated the majority and minority opinions, and we took your questions via Twitter for a live version of the Political Checklist and for Gwen Ifill’s Washington Week chat.

We devoted 48 minutes of the show to the ruling, starting with Betty Ann Bowser outlining the details and analysis from Marcia.

Watch that here or below.

Then we got two political perspectives — from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and GOP Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Rep. Hoyer kept to the White House talking points about cost containment and Sen. Cornyn did the same, telling Judy that because the law remains unpopular, Congress must take action on its own.

“It’s a little ironic that a program that was almost exactly like the one President Obama proposed was proposed by Gov. Romney, that he would say…what was good for Massachusetts wasn’t good for the nation,” Hoyer said.

“While the court said this mandate is constitutional, as you know, it’s very, very unpopular, as is this law in general,” Cornyn said. “And so I believe it’s now incumbent on Congress to take up health care reform once again. And I think we need to start over and to build a system that doesn’t take over the health care system, but one that’s more responsive to consumers, doesn’t interfere with the doctor/patient relationship, and focuses on reducing costs.”

Watch the lawmakers here or below.

In true NewsHour fashion, we explored the policy and what’s next with a diverse cast and in-depth discussion.

First, Jeffrey Brown talked with Susan Dentzer, who broke down what will happen with the health care law and how it will impact coverage. Watch that here or below.

Then Ray Suarez turned to a four-person panel to get at the heart of what stakeholders expect next. That included Ron Pollack, founding executive director of Families USA; Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans; Dr. Donald Palmisano, a physician and an attorney; and former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Watch the roundtable here or below.


The Supreme Court was the place to be Thursday, and NewsHour political production assistant Alex Bruns was there. He reports that a crowd of protesters, reporters and interested onlookers spilled from the court’s white stone steps and onto the sidewalk, extending down the block in both directions. Hundreds waited in line for a chance to sit in the courtroom as the justices read their decisions.

When the health care decision was handed out, reporters ran from the building, across the building’s expansive courtyard and into the street where legal experts quickly analyzed the 193-page decision for their news outlets to report.

The gathered protesters broke into a mix of cheers and boos as confusion swept the crowd, not knowing what exactly the decision meant for the health care law. Once the decision clear, dispirited Tea Party leaders took to the loudspeaker system to voice their disappointment.

“I was completely shocked,” Tea Party leader Woody Hertzog of Seattle told the Morning Line. “This is a trampling of our liberty. You just can’t force a person to buy something.”

The law’s supporters were just as vocal, though not as loud thanks to their absence of a PA system.

“It’s wonderful,” said Mark Hines of Cincinnati. “I mean this reduces the cost of health care and broadens the base of [those receiving health care].”

Slate’s David Weigel has more here.

Betty Ann set the scene and talked to a few more citizens about their views. Watch that here or below.


Meanwhile, House Republicans pressed on with a partisan rebuke of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, holding him in criminal and civil contempt for failing to turn over additional documents related to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running operation. The House voted 255 to 67 on the criminal contempt matter after most of the Democrats walked out of the chamber.

On civil contempt, the tally was 258 to 95, with five members voting present. Seventy Democrats refrained from voting.

NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman explained what the contempt vote means going forward.

The criminal contempt resolution approved today sends the matter to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who, under the law, actually reports to Holder.
The civil contempt finding allows the House to take Holder to court to get what it wants.

The civil contempt finding allows the House to take Holder to court to get what it wants.

Watch the full report here or below.

Politico reported Friday that the Holder drama could stretch well beyond the fall.

Perhaps the only way Congress could alleviate some of the tension built up over the course of the week was with a good ‘ol baseball game. The annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday night did not end well for Republicans.

When Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning to face Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., he didn’t last very long. He struck out on four pitches to end the rather anti-climactic game, 18-5. Giving up 11 runs in the second inning can take the wind from the best of teams, and the 2012 Republicans were far from the best of teams.

Staffers bearing shirts with their bosses’ names chanted and cheered from the stands. Democratic fans shouted: “We. Won. Health. Care.” Staffers held signs reading “Repeal that Law Call.”


  • Texas GOP Rep. Ron Paul announced plans to “hold a major rally with thousands of supporters” the weekend before the Republican National Convention kicks off in Tampa, Fla. It will be in the University of South Florida’s 11,000-seat Sun Dome, his campaign said.
  • The Obama campaign message about health care, on a t-shirt.
  • The president first heard the botched reports that the mandate had been struck down.
  • The Republican National Committee pushed its “full repeal” message in a new web video.



  • Just over four months from Election Day, the Rothenberg Political Report is out with its rankings of House battles. The projection for gains and losses is between a +1 for Republicans and +6 for Democrats. It rates 201 seats safe GOP, 161 safe Dem, 25 as Lean/Favored for the GOP, 19 for Lean/Favored for the Dems, and 29 seats are rated total tossups. The jump balls of the group are in California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania.
  • National Journal explores the legacy of Chief Justice John Roberts.
  • The Associated Press on how some in the press bobbled the court’s decision.
  • Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talked to Vicki Kennedy and wore her lucky purple pumps on Thursday, her office said.
  • The Sunlight Foundation’s Politwoops site captured all the tweets from lawmakers who wrongly thought that the health care law had been struck down.
  • Enjoy the multiple web memes about the health care decision. From “The Simpsons” to cats, these gifs whizzed around the web faster than you can say “D’oh!


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama travels to Colorado Springs to view damage from the wildfires.
  • Mitt Romney has no public events scheduled.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

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