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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A 'big (expletive) deal'? On the campaign trail Obama plays down health care

MAUMEE, Ohio — It came 20 minutes deep into a campaign speech, but President Barack Obama delivered the line emphatically, and the crowd roared back.

"The law I passed is here to stay!"

The law is the Affordable Care Act, legislation that is to Democrats so monumental — "a big (expletive) deal," as Vice President Joe Biden whispered to Obama the day it was signed — they have embraced the term Republicans used to belittle it: Obamacare. Exactly a week before Obama arrived here Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.

But if he were due a victory lap, Obama barely suited up. He addressed the law fleetingly in stops across Ohio on Thursday, the start of his first bus trip of the 2012 presidential campaign. "Now is not the time to spend four more years refighting battles we fought two years ago," Obama said in Maumee, near Toledo. "We are moving forward."

Obama and his advisers are betting that middle-class Americans want to focus on their economic security, the theme Obama pressed in three stops in Ohio and again in Pennsylvania on Friday, and it is unquestionably voters' top concern. The strategy, however, ignores powerful forces keeping health care out front and bitterly divided public opinion, including among independent voters who will decide the election. (story here)

[Last modified: Saturday, July 7, 2012 10:30am]


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