Who Can Get the Upper Hand in the PR Fight over the Obamacare Repeal and How?


The GOP Has the Power, the Democrats Need to Out-GOP Them

By Andrew Blum

The Sean Connery line in the movie “The Untouchables” about a criminal bringing a knife to a gun fight reminds me of how the Democrats have reacted so far in the PR battle over the Republican move to repeal Obamacare – they are using the wrong weapons.

For a number of election cycles – especially in 2016 – the Republicans have managed to out-spin and out-message the Democrats. If the election of Donald Trump and his unorthodox political and PR tactics should have taught the Democrats anything, it should make them understand the answer to fighting back is in part for them to use GOP tactics.

affordablecareactObamacare, officially the Affordable Care Act, is a prime example. The GOP has been trying to repeal the law since the ink was dry after President Obama signed it in 2010. Now they have a tweeter-in-chief on their side and the majority in Congress.

It would seem the GOP and President-elect Trump have the upper hand in this PR battle, even though there is no definitive alternative outlined yet to replace Obamacare after repeal. But all they have to do is keep doing what they’ve been doing and they are likely to be the PR winners.

So, here’s what the Democrats and their supporters have to do: stop strategizing and act. They should mount a Twitter campaign about Obamacare like the President-elect; they should also take the battle to congressional districts and states where key Republicans are pushing for the end of Obamacare. And hold HHS Secretary nominee Tom Price’s feet to the fire in confirmation hearings.

But more importantly, they should mount a grass roots campaign – use the estimated 20 million people covered by Obamacare to help. Have them rally at the U.S. Capitol and in the states. The media likes a story where they can put a face to the issue – especially on TV.

Also, if possible, use the insurers to help fight the repeal. After all, they are the ones who would be out millions of dollars in Obamacare compliance costs they already spent, and the repeal will likely make more of a mess in the health insurance market.

Right now it looks like the GOP will win the Obamacare PR battle. But if the Democrats remember the Sean Connery line about the wrong weapon, they have a fighting chance.

About the Author: Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. In the political realm, he handled PR for former NY Governor George Pataki for six years. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at ajbcomms@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms 


Leave a Comment