The specter of a Democratic Congress passing President Obama’s health care overhaul helped propel Republican Scott Brown to the US Senate in January 2010.
He pledged to be the decisive 41st GOP vote to block the president’s signature domestic legislative proposal, and Republicans and independents came to his aid with donations and votes.
While Democrat Martha Coakley conceded to botching her own campaign, a Suffolk University poll shortly after the special election showed that 24 percent of those who supported Brown voted for him out of opposition to the health care law.
In the end, though, Democrats maneuvered around the GOP’s blockade. The bill became law despite Brown’s vote against it.
Two years later, Brown is running for reelection, and the question is whether the continued health care debate will help or hurt his candidacy this time around.
The Supreme Court upheld the law’s constitutionality last week, stifling conservative complaints that the Affordable Care Act was illegal. Now the debate will be on the measure’s details, pitting its cost against its benefits.
Brown was quick to respond with this line of attack: “The federal health care law may be constitutional, but it is wrong for jobs and the economy,” he said in a statement.
The senator argues that the Massachusetts health care overhaul was superior to the federal one, and the state will only suffer as the Obama plan is fully implemented.
To underscore his point, Brown issued a second statement and video news release on Thursday, and wrote an op-ed column in Friday’s Globe.
His reelection challenger, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, lauded the court’s ruling.
“By upholding this legislation, the Supreme Court has ensured that every American can get access to high quality, affordable health care and fair treatment from insurance companies,” she said in her own statement.
Warren pleaded not to “refight the battles of two years ago.” But the polarization between her and Brown’s views of the law is sure to be a topic of discussion in their campaign.
Knowing Brown is part of a Republican group that wants to repeal the law, Warren must now ask if Democrats will rally to her cause this time around like the GOP did for the senator in 2010.
Patrick ‘is good people’
The “bromance” between Obama and Governor Deval Patrick was codified last week, when the president described his fellow Chicagoan and African-American as his “brother.”
Speaking at a fund-raiser in Weston, Obama added: “I don’t mean that in the vernacular.”
As the audience laughed, the president explained, “I mean somebody who — when I think about people who I admire, I care about, who I just think is good people, and who articulates a vision of what this country should be as well as anybody in this country — it’s your governor, Deval Patrick.”
Obama went on to say: “I love the guy.”
Obama’s calorie spree
The president’s wife, Michelle Obama, has made physical fitness her pet cause as first lady, championing her “Let’s Move” program, planting a vegetable garden on the White House grounds, and writing a book about it.
That activism sets observers atwitter whenever she and her husband eat in public, either cheering or condemning their food choices.
During a stop in New Hampshire before his visit to Boston last week, the president paid a surprise call on the UNH Dairy Bar. It’s famed for ice cream made from milk provided by cows at the state university.
Obama indulged with a hot fudge sundae for himself and a banana split for White House press secretary Jay Carney.
A day later, during a stop at Atlanta’s famed Varsity diner, the president was back at it. He ordered five chili dogs, four regular hot dogs, and a cheeseburger for a group that included Carney and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
One woman at UNH expressed concern to the president, asking how he kept his trim waistline even while eating such high-calorie food.
According to the pool reporter traveling with him, the president replied that he indulges only on occasion.
A White House aide told the Globe that Carney has another tactic: He ate just half of his banana split.