Just two weeks ago, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) surprised much of the political world with a powerful television ad. Though the conventional wisdom was that Pryor, facing a tough re-election fight, would avoid talking about the Affordable Care Act, but the senator nevertheless did the opposite, boasting about the benefits he's delivered for Arkansans through the ACA.
"No one should be fighting an insurance company while you're fighting for your life," Pryor said in the spot. "That's why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for preexisting conditions."
Karl Rove's attack operation, Crossroads GPS, responded with an ad of its own, saying it doesn't matter if those benefits are good; what matters is that the benefits are part of "Obamacare." (Attacking the brand name is all the right has left.) What's more, Crossroads and Pryor's opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R), have tried moving to the left, accusing Pryor of voting for Medicare "cuts" when the Affordable Care Act passed.
Would Pryor back down? As it turns out, no. MaddowBlog received an exclusive first look at the Pryor campaign's new campaign ad
, which is the second spot in which the Arkansas senator boasts about ACA benefits.
For those who can't watch clips online, the ad features Pryor, speaking directly to the camera:
"My opponent knows I did not cut Medicare benefits. I cut waste and protected benefits.
"Insurance companies were charging $115 for every $100 of services, ripping off taxpayers. Cutting this waste adds years to the life of Medicare and provides for more doctor visits and preventative care.
"I'm Mark Pryor and I approve this message because making sure seniors get the health care they need is responsible. Overpaying insurance companies isn't."
It's an effective message, which has the added benefit of being accurate, which is more than can be said about the Crossroads attacks.
But let's not miss the forest for the trees here: the politics of health care are changing, quickly and dramatically, and this spot is emblematic of the broader shift.