WASHINGTON — For the first time in nearly a decade, Republicans are heading into a national election divided and defensive over health care, the very issue that once propelled them to majorities in the House and Senate.
After failing to deliver on their yearslong promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act and faced with the sudden popularity of Obamacare’s consumer protections, GOP candidates across the country are struggling to put together a cohesive message on health care.
Die-hards still want to repeal the 2010 law, but a growing number of Republicans — particularly those facing tough elections — want to quietly admit defeat and move on to other issues.
“Even to bring it up is picking at the scab,” said Joe Antos, a health policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “It’s reminding people that they (failed). The base isn’t that stupid.”
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