GUNTERSVILLE, Alabama — Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday declared “I’m the only one running for president who’s actually scored victories against Obamacare,” highlighting a potentially key policy area on which he differs from the rest of the field.
“There are people running for president, not running for president, who all talk about fighting against Obamacare. I congratulate them — it’s important to fight against it,” he told a crowd of supporters at a rally in Alabama Tuesday. "But I’m the only one running for president who’s actually been able to score victories against Obamacare.”
Rubio touted his effort to pass a measure eliminating the Obamacare “risk corridors,” a fund set up in the health care law to help offset losses experienced by insurers as they took on new patients and help keep premiums down, and something Rubio decries as a “bailout” on the campaign trail. Though a measure he pushed in 2013 blocking the fund failed, it inspired a policy rider added to the 2014 spending bill that eventually passed.
“Last year I was able to get that struck, in the budget debate, I was able to get that stricken. We took away that bailout plan,” Rubio said Tuesday.
He noted that the nation’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth, has warned it may exit Obamacare entirely, potentially negatively impacting the law. And he called on the audience to support his efforts to again keep it out of the upcoming budget.
The Florida senator also boasted about his anti-Obamacare efforts in a radio interview Tuesday. It’s become a constant refrain in his stump speech at campaign stops across America. Though Rubio hasn’t yet made the contrast outright, his aides believe his action on the relatively wonky topic offers a favorable contrast to Sen. Ted Cruz, who’s known for his fiery rhetoric and shutdown threats over the law but hasn’t had much success dismantling it.
And as Cruz and Rubio continue down their collision course in the primary — both rising in the polls, and competing for similar subsets of the GOP electorate — Rubio’s aides say they believe it could give him an advantage and help him make the case that he’s the most effective GOP candidate for president.
On Tuesday, it seemed he had no trouble making that case. It was Rubio’s biggest rally in weeks, bringing out 850 supporters despite a downpour and an out-of-the-way location in rural Alabama. Supporters young and old began gathering in the gymnasium for the event an hour before it began, and so many stayed afterwards begging for autographs that the senator was nearly late for a flight to Louisiana, where he had a fundraiser scheduled.
Some supporters drove hours just to see the senator — one, Taylor Sims, on her 19th birthday. The University of Alabama freshman said she drove two hours through the rain to the rally “cause I love Marco Rubio.”
“He’s a motivator of the American Dream, in that he has actually experienced the American Dream,” she told MSNBC. "It doesn’t hurt," she added, "that he’s not bad looking."
"I would say it’s kind of like a John F. Kennedy charisma,” Sims said.