Mo. candidates try to turn court ruling into cash
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Several Missouri candidates have tried to turn the U.S. Supreme Court's health care ruling into campaign cash, asking potential donors to support efforts to "throw out Obamacare" or stand with a congressman whose "vital voice and courageous vote" helped make the law possible.
Appeals for donations started within hours of the high court's decision upholding the individual insurance mandate in President Barack Obama's signature health care overhaul and came from Missouri candidates for the U.S. Senate, Congress, governor and attorney general.
Last week's pivotal court ruling on the health care law provided momentum for campaigns making last-minute requests for cash before the Saturday cutoff on reporting fundraising activities during the past quarter. Health care themes were particularly common in requests from Republican critics of the federal law given the passage two years ago of a Missouri proposition that bars the government from requiring people to have health insurance.
Republicans competing to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill called for repealing the health care law and suggested that donating money would signal support for replacing both her and the federal health care overhaul.
"Help us throw out ObamaCare by making a donation today of $10 for every Supreme Court Justice you wish was more conservative," said a plea from U.S. Rep. Todd Akin.
St. Louis businessman John Brunner asked: "Will you donate $25 or more to my campaign today and help me send a clear message to Senator McCaskill that her blind support for the President's tax-raising, health care policy is unacceptable?"
Former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman said the overhaul creates a "fundamentally socialist healthcare system" and promised to support repealing it. An Internet link for supporters to make donations was placed on a picture of Obama and McCaskill with the caption: "McCaskill stands with Obama and ObamaCare — NOT Missouri."
McCaskill campaign spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki said the health care overhaul offers significant tax cuts for people and businesses who buy insurance and Republicans are trying to scare voters.
"The only people who will ever have to pay a penalty tax are those who irresponsibly refuse to seek insurance and try to make everyone else pay for their visits to the emergency room," Legacki said.
Republican candidates seeking state government posts also talked about health care in their fundraising pitches. Gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence and attorney general hopeful Ed Martin promised to fight federal mandates such as the health care measure and criticized Democratic incumbents.
"I cannot fight Obamacare if I'm not elected Attorney General and I cannot be elected Attorney General without your help," Martin wrote to supporters. He added: "I promise that the first day I am elected Attorney General, I will work to end Obamacare in Missouri."
Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan's campaign trumpeted his support for the law and asked for help in the Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay. Redistricting threw the two together in a new district covering the St. Louis area.
"That important bill became law in the first place because of Congressman Carnahan's vital voice and courageous vote, allowing all Americans to have access to quality and affordable health care," Carnahan's campaign wrote.
Appeals to help grow campaign bank accounts also came from outside Missouri. The Republican Governors Association said giving money to elect more Republican governors would "help ensure we have a firewall against the Obama agenda in the states."
Obama's campaign also asked for money and sent a message stating that "Mitt Romney and the Republicans in Congress just can't take yes for an answer." Romney's campaign, meanwhile, suggested supporters hold Obama accountable and donate $10 to make him a one-term president.
Even if the pleas for contributions do not attract bundles of money, the fundraising requests can help Missouri candidates by reminding voters about the federal health care law.
"For the mass mailing, the goal is of course fundraising, but that's not its only purpose. You are reinforcing a message," said George Connor, the head of the political science department at Missouri State University.
Chris Blank has covered state government and politics for The Associated Press since 2005. Follow him at http://twitter.com/ChrisBlank2 .