Trump pounces on Oba­macare

GOP nom­i­nee sees po­ten­tial life­line in ris­ing health costs

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Steve Peo­ples and Jonathan Lemire The Wash­ing­ton Post con­trib­uted.

DORAL, Fla. — Sud­denly armed with fresh po­lit­i­cal am­mu­ni­tion, Don­ald Trump and anx­ious Repub­li­cans seized on spik­ing health care costs Tues­day in a fi­nal-days ef­fort to spark elec­tion mo­men­tum.

The Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, trekking across must-win Florida, in­sisted “Oba­macare is just blow­ing up” af­ter the gov­ern­ment pro­jected sharp cost in­creases for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sig­na­ture health care law. Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton, fight­ing to block Trump in the same bat­tle­ground state, has vowed to pre­serve in­sur­ance for the mil­lions of Americans cov­ered un­der the law, but her team de­scribed the cost surge as a “big con­cern.”

The re­newed em­pha­sis on health care gave bat­tered Repub­li­can House and Se­nate can­di­dates a brief respite from months of painful ques­tions about their pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, who has ques­tioned the in­tegrity of the U.S. elec­tion sys­tem while fac­ing per­sonal al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct. Trump has de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

“My first day in of­fice I’m go­ing to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk get­ting rid of this dis­as­trous law,” a fiery Trump told thou­sands of vot­ers gath­ered at a cen­tral Florida air­port.

Trump vowed to re­place the pro­gram — a key part of Don­ald Trump, seen Tues­day at a rally at Or­lando San­ford In­ter­na­tional Air­port, pledged to get “rid of” Oba­macare. Obama’s do­mes­tic legacy — "with some­thing much less ex­pen­sive, oth­er­wise this coun­try is in much worse shape t han any­body thought." But he pro­vided no specifics on how he would do that.

Dur­ing a ra­dio in­ter­view Tues­day, Clin­ton touted the Af­ford­able Care Act as “a ma­jor step” for­ward and vowed, as she has be­fore, to “fix prob­lems” with the law.

“I’m sure you no­ticed, pre­dom­i­nantly work­ing peo­ple, African-Amer­i­can, Latino peo­ple now have ac­cess to in­sur­ance, but the costs have gone up too much,” Clin­ton t old WHQT-FM in Mi­ami. “So we’re go­ing to re­ally tackle that. We’re go­ing to get co-pays and premi­ums and de­ductibles down. We’re go­ing to tackle pre­scrip­tion drug costs. And we can do that with­out rip­ping away the in­sur­ance that peo­ple now have.”

Blessed with an un­ex­pected po­lit­i­cal gift, how­ever, it’s un­clear whether Trump will be able to cap­i­tal­ize.

In­deed, Trump has strug­gled to stay fo­cused on the tra­di­tional i ssues through­out his out­sider can­di­dacy. He opened Tues­day by pro­mot­ing one of his Florida golf re­sorts, high­light­ing the ex­tra­or­di­nary in­ter­sec­tion between his busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests. Trump is also sched­uled to at­tend Wed­nes­day’s open­ing of his new Wash­ing­ton ho­tel.

“We’re at Trump Na­tional Doral. And it’s one of the great places on Earth,” Trump said dur­ing a visit to his golf club. He en­cour­aged his em­ploy­ees to praise him at the mi­cro­phone and said many of them are hav­ing “tremen­dous prob­lems with Oba­macare.”

The Doral gen­eral man­ager later clar­i­fied that 95 per­cent of the club’s em­ploy­ees are on com­pa­nypro­vided in­sur­ance.

Also Tues­day, Clin­ton picked up the en­dorse­ment of for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Colin Pow­ell, a Repub­li­can who an­nounced his in­ten­tion to vote for her dur­ing an ap­pear­ance in New York.

Mean­while, Lib­er­tar­ian vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Wil­liam Weld is urg­ing vot­ers torn between ma­jor­party pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Clin­ton and Trump to re­ject Trump.

Weld of­fered a blis­ter­ing cri­tique of Trump, say­ing that while the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee has demon­strated charisma and panache he also has shown an in­abil­ity to han­dle crit­i­cism, con­jured up en­e­mies and stirred up envy, re­sent­ment and group ha­tred, demon­strat­ing “the worst of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics.”

Trump, who must win the bat­tle­ground state of Florida to have any chance at the 270 elec­toral votes needed to win the pres­i­dency, ap­peared at three cam­paign events on Tues­day, his third straight day in the state. Clin­ton, who can win the pres­i­dency with or with­out Florida, made one ap­pear­ance on the first day of a two-day swing.

Trump’s fi­nance chair­man, Steven Mnuchin, said the GOP nom­i­nee has no fur­ther high-dol­lar fundrais­ing events planned, deal­ing an­other blow to the GOP’s ef­fort to fi­nance its get-out-the-vote op­er­a­tion.

The cam­paign’s last for­mal fundraiser was Oct. 19, in Las Ve­gas, on the day of the fi­nal pres­i­den­tial de­bate. “We’ve kind of wound down,” Mnuchin said, re­fer­ring to for­mal fundrais­ers. “But the on­line fundrais­ing con­tin­ues to be strong.”

While Clin­ton head­lined her last fundraiser Tues­day night in Mi­ami, her cam­paign has sched­uled 41 other events between now and Nov. 3 fea­tur­ing high­pro­file sur­ro­gates such as her daugh­ter, Chelsea, run­ning mate Tim Kaine and the en­ter­tainer Cher, ac­cord­ing to a sched­ule sent to donors this week­end.

Mnuchin said the Trump cam­paign de­cided to keep the can­di­date’s fi­nal weeks fo­cused on tak­ing his mes­sage to the vot­ers rather than on rais­ing money.

Trump also an­nounced that run­ning mate Mike Pence will visit Wed­nes­day in Utah, where polls show Trump is at risk of los­ing a once-re­li­able GOP state.

JOE BUR­BANK/TNS

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