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RIVALS SEEKING A LEG UP

Their positions are clear.

President Barack Obama ardently defends his federal health care overhaul. Republican challenger Mitt Romney adamantly opposes it. But this coming week, when the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the law, both sides will be scrambling for political gain no matter the outcome.

If the court upholds the law, Obama will get vindication for his signature legislative accomplishment. Romney will have a concrete target for his pledge to repeal it.

If the court rules against part or all of the law, Obama could blame Romney, congressional Republicans and a conservative-leaning court for denying health benefits to millions of people in the United States. Romney could claim victory for his assertion that the government overreached.

Striking down all or part of the law less than five months from Nov. 6 election also could mean much political uncertainty for both campaigns. That could force them to reshape long-held strategies and try to satisfy voter demands for Washington to start anew on fixing a broken health care system.

Just one-third of those questioned back the law, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll this month. But there is overwhelming backing among both supporters and opponents for Congress and the president to find a new remedy if the high court strikes down the 2-year-old law.

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