Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) shoots an anti-ObamaCare lawsuit backed by his opponent in a new ad playing off his well-known 2010 spot shooting a climate change bill.
The ad from Manchin, who is facing a competitive reelection race in a deep-red state, shows a shift in the politics of ObamaCare.
Manchin is now making protecting the health law, especially its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, a central part of his campaign.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Manchin’s Republican opponent, backs the lawsuit Manchin shoots. It seeks to overturn ObamaCare as unconstitutional.
“That's me shooting the cap and trade bill, because it was bad for West Virginia,” Manchin says in the ad, showing the opening from the 2010 spot, where Manchin rebelled against an environmental priority of Democratic leaders.
"Now the threat is Patrick Morrisey's lawsuit to take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions,” Manchin continues. “He is just dead wrong, and that ain't gonna happen."
Morrisey says that he wants people with pre-existing to have coverage, but also supports repealing and replacing ObamaCare.
An ObamaCare replacement could include similar pre-existing condition protections, but it would require Congress coming together to pass a replacement, which lawmakers were unable to do last year. Proposed GOP replacement bills last year would also allow states to waive certain pre-existing condition protections.
Manchin is one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for reelection in 2018. He is trying to defend his seat in a state that President Trump won by more than 40 points in 2016.
"Joe Manchin has a 'D' rating from the NRA, and voted against President Trump's efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare," Morrisey spokesman Nathan Brand said in response to the ad. "Lying liberal Joe has been wrong for West Virginia."
Democrats see ObamaCare's rising popularity as an issue they can focus on for the midterms.
Other red-state Democrats have also been attacking GOP opponents for supporting the lawsuit, including Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
Arguments in the case, which is supported by 20 GOP-led states, including West Virginia, took place last week in federal district court in Texas.
While legal experts on both sides are skeptical the case will ultimately succeed, the conservative judge who heard arguments last week appeared to show skepticism of ObamaCare supporters’ case.
That raises the possibility that the judge could issue an initial ruling against the law, which could be overturned on appeal, but which would still jolt the campaign.
A recent poll shows Manchin with an 8-point lead over Morrisey.