‘Repeal and Replace’ Has Been “Replaced”

The Republican shift away from “repeal and replace” rhetoric on Obamacare may not signal the change in actual policy that some Democrats assume.

In recent months, Democratic partisans have hailed the transition in GOP messaging as proof that the Affordable Care Act is not as toxic to their side as previously assumed and may even begin presenting problems for the law’s opponents.

But Republican operatives responsible for guiding 2014 strategy contend that the party remains as committed as ever to opposing President Obama’s health care overhaul, both on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail. Instead, they say that the “repeal and replace” line has outlived its usefulness.

“This is a natural progression as the debate has hardened,” a Republican ad maker told the Washington Examiner. “We are now fighting well across the center line. The entire right half of the country is galvanized against Obamacare. We are now working to pick off people who are not ideologically opposed to it but who believe it has failed.”

Here are the three factors driving the Republicans’ shift in Obamacare messaging, according to interviews with Republican strategists:

Like it or not, Obamacare is no longer theoretical