Vulnerable Democrats Try Straddle on Health Law

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Hit with a multimillion-dollar barrage of attack ads, Democrats in tough re-election races want credit for trying to fix the problematic parts of the health care law while they claim bragging rights for its popular provisions and allege Republicans will reverse the crackdown on insurance company abuses.

It’s a tricky, high-stakes political straddle by lawmakers who voted to create the law, which Republicans intend to use in their campaign to win control of the Senate and hold a House majority.

In one of the year’s most closely watched races, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) recently aired a commercial that features her in numerous public settings last fall sternly telling President Barack Obama to keep his promise to let people keep their current health plans if they want to — and then taking credit after he took steps to make that happen.

“I’m fixing it and that’s what my bill does, and I’ve urged the president to fix it,” Landrieu says in the ad.

It ends: “The result: People now allowed to keep health care plans.”

The three-term lawmaker aired the ad after a ad attack by Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch that has spent over $25 million on similar commercials in several races.

Hundreds of miles away, in Arizona, an outside group that backs Democrats stepped in after Americans for Prosperity targeted Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.

Referring to HealthCare.gov, which had a wretched debut last fall, a House Majority PAC ad said Kirkpatrick “blew the whistle on the disastrous health care website, calling it stunning ineptitude, and worked to fix it.”

At the same time, Kirkpatrick “fought to hold insurance companies accountable, so they can’t deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or drop it when they get sick,” said the commercial, referring to popular elements of the law already in place.