Repairing the relationship between Obama and his allies may be as complex as fixing the website and health care law. Much rests on rebuilding trust with the public, a solid majority of which now opposes "Obamacare," according to multiple polls. Both parties will be watching on Saturday to see whether the vast majority of those who try to sign up for policies on the website will succeed, as Obama has promised. Democrats have urged the administration to quit setting "red lines" like the Nov. 30 deadline, that carry the risk of being broken.
Nearly a year from the midterm election, Republicans in both chambers are launching a drive to link virtually every congressional Democrat to Obamacare. In the House, the effort, based around dozens of votes to repeal the law, is about denying Democrats the 17-seat gain they would need to win back the majority. In the Senate, it's about gaining the six seats Republicans need to take control of that chamber.
"So you're running on Obamacare," read a faux tip sheet from House Republicans to House Democrats that went out over the holiday week. "The best thing to do," it advises Democratic lawmakers in 28 districts, "is step in front of the cameras and explain to voters why government should run their health care."
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, showed notable discipline last week when they complained loudly about the Democrats' new limits on filibusters — then pivoted in as little as one sentence back to "Obamacare."
The filibuster limits, said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, can be chalked up to "broken promises, double standards and raw power — the same playbook that got us Obamacare."
Democratic leaders scoff at the notion that missed deadlines and other problems could threaten the party's prospects 11 months down the road. A similar budget-and-debt fight that sparked the shutdown and smacked Republicans last month looms early next year, they point out. There is time, they insist, for the law to begin working as intended and to help elevate the Democrats' political prospects.
"Yesterday's battles and today's battles and tomorrow's battles create different environments," said House Democratic campaign chief Steve Israel, D-N.Y. Independent voters, the keys to elections in the most competitive districts in the country, are pragmatic, he added. "They want the Affordable Care Act not to be repealed, but to be fixed. They don't want to go back, they want to go forward."
Jennifer Agiesta, AP's director of polling, contributed to this report.
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