Republican presidential hopefuls are united in wanting to do away with Obamacare although they mince no words when attacking each other in the often-nasty 2012 campaign.
On the campaign trail frontrunner Mitt Romney repeats it like a mantra. So do main rival Rick Santorum, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas congressman Ron Paul as they criss-cross the nation.
AdvertisementSuch is the obsession among conservative voters with ending President Barack Obama's historic health care reform initiative -- signed into law two years ago on Friday and up for review next week by the US Supreme Court -- that Republican campaigns clamor over each other demanding an end to the "socialist" government program.
When Maryland's former governor Robert Ehrlich took the stage in the town of Arbutus on Wednesday to introduce Romney, he asked the crowd what they'd like Romney to do on his first day in the White House.
"Repeal Obamacare!" came the chorus.
Gingrich got a raucous reaction too when he told a conservative conference last month that signing a repeal of the law would be his first act as president.
And at nearly every campaign stop, Santorum, a religious conservative and former senator from Pennsylvania, rails against the legislation -- notably its mandate for everyone to have or purchase health insurance -- as an assault on the rights enshrined in the US Constitution.
There is "one particular issue that to me breaks the camel's back with respect to liberty in this country, and that is the issue of Obamacare," Santorum told supporters in Steubenville, Ohio.
"This is the beginning of the end of freedom in America," he warned, pausing ominously to let his words sink in. "Once the government has control of your life, then they gotcha."
To be sure, Republicans aiming to challenge Obama in the November election express concerns about stubbornly high unemployment and other woes.
But perhaps above all, they are tapping into persistent doubts from conservatives about the Affordable Care Act. To do anything but slam what many have nicknamed Obamacare would be tantamount to campaign trail suicide.
"It's poison," retired geologist Jim Jolly, waiting for Romney at the Maryland rally, said of any Republican politician who did not oppose Obama's health care reform. "There isn't one candidate I know of who would say any different."
In perhaps the most dramatic attack, onetime conservative darling Herman Cain used fearmongering at a Florida presidential debate, insisting that "I would be dead under Obamacare" had he been forced to treat his colon cancer according to the whim of bureaucrats and not his doctors on his timetable.
Conservatives in Congress have the candidates' backs. Every single Republican in the Senate and House of Representatives is on record seeking the law's repeal.
For Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has spoken out about the issue more than 100 times on the floor of the chamber, "Obamacare should be the number one issue in the campaign," he told the Weekly Standard recently.
"I think it's the gift that keeps on giving."
Perhaps it's because many voters perceive a creeping enchroachment by the government on their individual freedoms and constitutional rights.
"At root, Americans are immensely individualistic people," John Green, a political science professor at University of Akron, told AFP. "One way it comes out is hostility to large government."
More than any other candidate, Romney is under intense pressure to swear off Obamacare.
It was Romney, after all, who introduced health care insurance reform in Massachusetts when he was governor of the liberal-leaning state, and the White House has confirmed Romney's plan served as the blueprint for the national program.
But the frontrunner's rivals have seized on so-called "Romneycare" like pit bulls, notably Santorum, who said the program makes Romney "absolutely incapable of making the case against Obamacare successfully."
The accusations have forced Romney into a campaign routine in which he insists his program was good for his state but not for the nation.
When a skeptical supporter in Youngstown sought an "emphatic yes" from Romney over whether he'd appeal Obamacare, the candidate shot back: "Why would I not?"
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