ABC Out To Lunch On Bill Clinton's 'Crazy' Remark About ObamaCare

As of Wednesday morning, ABC's morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover Bill Clinton's Monday slam of ObamaCare as a "crazy system." By contrast, ABC's Good Morning America, along with CBS This Morning, aired news briefs on Wednesday about a study of the hibernation habits of squirrels in the Arctic. NBC and CBS's evening newscasts both covered the former president's remarks during their Tuesday editions, but omitted mentioning the issue the following day on their Wednesday morning shows.

CNN's New Day set aside three minutes and 15 seconds on Wednesday to former President Clinton's critique of ObamaCare at a campaign stop for his wife in Flint, Michigan. Anchor Chris Cuomo played a clip of the Democrat's comments and asked CNN Politics executive editor Mark Preston, "He [Clinton] pointed out a flaw in ObamaCare. [Mike] Pence echoed it last night. How big of a deal?" [video below]

Preston first asserted, "I don't know if it's going to be able to break through, in the end, through all the discussion around Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the lead up to Sunday's debate." He soon added, however, that "the problem for Hillary Clinton is, that's her husband...Bill Clinton was giving voice to a lot of people who are very frustrated with ObamaCare, in the fact that it's costing them a lot more money now that it's implemented."

Co-anchor Alisyn Camerota then turned to CNN analyst David Gregory for his take on the Clinton remarks. She wondered, "ObamaCare has not been a very big issue in this election, but this is the thing that galvanized Republicans....So, Bill Clinton, to go off script so much and say, this is the craziest thing in the world, does it regenerate that conversation now for the campaign?" Gregory acknowledged the issue, but pivoted to how well Tim Kaine apparently did at the vice presidential debate:

DAVID GREGORY: Yes, I think it can; and I think...it was terribly off message for Bill Clinton to be engaged in that, and it's just another discordant note from him — meeting on the tarmac with Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, was another low point of this campaign that, I think, made Hillary Clinton's job harder....But I do think, at the end, even though Pence probably wins on style points, that even an overly-caffeinated Tim Kaine had an enthusiasm and a gusto going after Trump that, I think, has the ability to continue to enthuse elements of the Democratic base that they need to turn out and get excited. And so, going through those bullet points and all those attacks — which I don't think that Pence really wanted to answer — I think, ultimately, was job done for the Democratic side.

The former president's ObamaCare attack also sparked an eight-minute discussion on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Wednesday.

The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion on CNN's New Day on October 5, 2016:

CHRIS CUOMO: Mark Preston, how big of a deal do you think it was — it only came up a little bit last night from Mike Pence — about what Bill Clinton has said about ObamaCare. We have some sound to play.

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON (from campaign event): The people who are getting killed in this deal are small business people, and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies. Why? Because they're not organized. They don't have any bargaining power with insurance companies. And they're getting whacked. So, you've got this crazy system; where, all of a sudden, 25 million more people have health care; and then, the people who are out there busting it — sometimes, 60 hours a week — wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It's the craziest thing in the world.

CUOMO: Now, the Democrats and the Clinton campaign will say he cleaned this up afterwards — saying, well, you've got more people covered. You've got 90 percent of the country covered. It doesn't change his fundamental point. He pointed out a flaw in ObamaCare. Pence echoed it last night. How big of a deal?

MARK PRESTON: Look, it's a big enough deal that we're certainly going to be talking about it. I don't know if it's going to be able to break through, in the end, through all the discussion around Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the lead up to Sunday's debate. It really rests on the shoulders now, I think, of Donald Trump to see how effectively he is able to bring it up on Sunday night. Is he able to hammer it home — hit it home?

The problem for Hillary Clinton is, that's her husband. The fact of the matter is, is that he was giving voice — Bill Clinton was giving voice — to a lot of people who are very frustrated with ObamaCare, in the fact that it's costing them a lot more money now that it's implemented.

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Well, exactly! I mean, David Gregory, this is the thing. ObamaCare has not been a very big issue in this election, but this is the thing that galvanized Republicans. You know, they felt that this was being rammed down their throats. They felt that this was a mandate that they didn't need. They predicted that premiums would go up. So, Bill Clinton, to go off script so much and say, this is the craziest thing in the world, does it regenerate that conversation now for the campaign?

DAVID GREGORY: Yes, I think it can; and I think it was — it was terribly off message for Bill Clinton to be engaged in that, and it's just another discordant note from him — meeting on the tarmac with Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, was another low point of this campaign that, I think, made Hillary Clinton's job harder.

So, I think there's no question. But I think it goes to Ron's [Brownstein's] point more largely — which is that, you know, Pence was able to, kind of, sweep the landscape and say, this is why there's all this energy; and this is why there's a rationale for a Trump candidacy if you look at the expansion of government, as we see in health care, in ObamaCare, and what is yet to be done, what has to be changed. They're calling for total repeal. If you look at the international stage, and what has not been done; what's been done poorly; how dangerous it remains. That's the case for change.

But I do think, at the end, even though Pence probably wins on style points, that even an overly-caffeinated Tim Kaine had an enthusiasm and a gusto going after Trump that, I think, has the ability to continue to enthuse elements of the Democratic base that they need to turn out and get excited. And so, going through those bullet points and all those attacks — which I don't think that Pence really wanted to answer — I think, ultimately, was job done for the Democratic side.


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Tell the Truth 2016 NBDaily Campaign Watch Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Health Care Bias by Omission ABC Good Morning America World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News CBS This Morning NBC NBC Nightly News Video Mark Preston Alisyn Camerota Chris Cuomo David Gregory Bill Clinton Hillary Clinton Mike Pence
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