Shak Hill’s U.S. Senate campaign this week appears to be trending upward on a message that tries to sow doubt about Ed Gillespie’s apparent openness to an individual health insurance mandate eight years ago.
In a blast email to supporters today, the Hill campaign called out Gillespie’s statements in his 2006 book, “Winning Right: Campaign Politics and Conservative Policies,” and statements made during his book tour, that show an apparent willingness to consider an individual mandate as part of GOP-led health reforms. Hill writes,
His record gives us some clues. On page 249 of his book, “Winning Right”, Ed Gillespie says we need to use the IRS to compel people to buy health insurance.
That sounds like the individual mandate, doesn’t it?
Then there’s this video of Mr. Gillespie from 2006, in his own words, again promoting compulsory health insurance:
There’s just one problem with this. While Hill understandably wants to make this a centerpiece of the debate about whether he or Gillespie should be our Senate nominee, it’s not accurate to say that Gillespie was “promoting compulsory health insurance.” Here’s the full context of what Gillespie said, which can be seen at about the 9-minute mark in this original video from C-SPAN:
You see Mitt Romney in Massachusetts has taken some steps toward individual requirements for people to carry their own insurance. I think the party is probably open to that kind of approach. Others are proposing small business health plans and greater transparency and putting the consumer in closer touch with the healthcare expenditure. I think that’s a good direction.
Gillespie then goes on to excoriate the likely Democrat nominee for president in 2008 for what he anticipated would be a government-run system. Taken together, this strikes us not as “promoting compulsory health insurance,” but instead as Ed being frank about the many alternatives to a purely government-run system that were then on the table. Gillespie’s campaign has taken issue with any characterization that he has expressed any actual personal support for an individual mandate, and maintains that Gillespie has been an opponent of Obamacare from the beginning. Gillespie’s stated position is that he believes it needs to be repealed and replaced with what the campaign describes as “market oriented reforms that work.”
Accuracy aside, Hill has been using this message, and jabs about Gillespie’s days as a George W. Bush advisor and lobbyist, to tell Republicans that a matchup between incumbent Senator Mark Warner and Gillespie would be a losing proposition for Republicans. “The Democrats will exploit Ed Gillespie’s record as much as they can. The minute the debate becomes about something other than Mark Warner’s record, we lose,” Hill has previously told The Bull Elephant. He’s been getting some traction with this approach, and earlier this week Hill announced endorsements from a number of grassroots leaders, including some names familiar to long-time GOP convention-goers:
Shak Hill’s candidacy has been endorsed by:
Nate Boyer, Chairman Bedford County Republican Committee
Gary Lowe, Chairman Greene County Republican Committee
Bob Arment, Chairman Louisa County Republican Committee
Steve Osborne, Vice Chairman Fifth Congressional District Committee
John Phelps, Former Chairman New Kent Tea Party
Keith Drake, Former Chairman Albemarle County Republican Committee
Les Williams, Chairman Campbell County Republican Committee
Mark Lloyd, Former Chairman Lynchburg Area Tea Party and Virginia State Tea
Tim Boyer, Former Fifth Congressional District Vice Chair and Chairman Campbell County Republican Committee
Aaron Evans, Former State Vice Chairman Young Republicans
Annie Celotto, Former State Director of AFP Virginia
Chuck Smith, Former Chairman Virginia Beach Republican Committee
Tricia Stall, Past State Senate Nominee First Senatorial District
Travis Witt, Member State Central Committee Fifth Congressional District and
Chairman of Virginia Tea Party Patriots Foundation *for identification purposes only*
Rick Boyer, Former Chairman Campbell County Republican Committee
James Bowden, Former First District Chairman
Mike Rothfeld, Founder and Board Member National Association of Gun Rights *for identification purposes only*
There are some well-respected grassroots leaders on this list, including some who have a reputation for being able to turn out tons of delegates. And Shak will need the help, as even with this list indications are that the campaign is probably still well behind Ed Gillespie’s in terms of signing up delegates to trek to the Convention in June. Almost two weeks ago, the Gillespie campaign issued a release claiming to have recruited over 1,000 delegates, and that number is likely much higher by now. Gillespie’s team has not let up, and by all accounts continues to vigorously engage with potential delegates on a retail level.
Conventional wisdom still has Gillespie easily in the lead for the nomination. But, as we get closer to the time when the bulk of delegates will be signing up for the Convention (the signup period closes at the end of March), Shak Hill is making it clear that if Ed wants to win, he’s going to have to really work for it all the way into June.