Hagan Raises Money With VP As GOP Criticism Rises
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan wrapped up a difficult week in which she took heat for both defending and criticizing the health care overhaul by returning to North Carolina to get fundraising help Friday from Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden girded the party faithful at a fundraising reception at the alumni center on the campus of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Neither Biden nor Hagan directly mentioned the health care law. Hagan was roundly criticized for the law by Republicans in recent weeks.
The event, which benefits state and national Democrats in addition to Hagan’s campaign effort, proved to be a political refuge from national and state Republicans, their allied groups and the GOP primary candidates who want to challenge her in 2014. Keeping to Hagan’s political refrain as a moderating influence in the Senate for nearly five years, the vice president said Hagan is someone who can work across the aisle with Republicans.
“The only way to break through this gridlock is with people who can earn the trust of people on the other team, that’s why she’s so valuable,” Biden told the crowd of 160 people. Biden began the day at a small Democratic fundraising breakfast at a Charlotte home.
His tone contrasted with Republicans, who consider Hagan even more vulnerable next year at the polls in the wake of the poor online rollout of the federal health insurance exchanges and deluge of cancellation letters to some of the currently insured. More than 473,000 North Carolina residents have seen their health insurance policies canceled because they don’t meet new federal coverage standards. On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced an attempt toward meeting his oft-repeated promise that anyone liking their current coverage would be able to keep it under the new law.
Republicans highlighted this week comments Hagan made as the health legislation worked its way through Congress in 2009. She used language similar to Obama’s words. The state GOP said this week it counted 22 times when Hagan made similar remarks — all occurring before Hagan voted for the final bill in early 2010.
Hagan “told North Carolinians that the fundamental promise of Obamacare was that people who like their plans could keep them,” state GOP spokesman Daniel Keylin said Friday in a statement.
Also Friday, Republican primary hopeful and state House Speaker Thom Tillis called Hagan to release records or documents from her work on a Senate committee that performed work on the health care overhaul bill.
Another GOP challenger — the Rev. Mark Harris — called for Hagan’s resignation. Harris based it on a Greensboro newspaper report quoting a Hagan spokeswoman responding after Harris directed questions to Hagan earlier in the week. Harris wanted to know when Hagan knew there would be so many insurance cancellations. Harris’ comments didn’t appear to take into account additional comments the spokeswoman gave earlier to the News & Record of Greensboro.
Hagan campaign manager Preston Elliot said Harris’ comments were a political stunt. Elliot likened it to Harris saying last month he wanted to end the government shutdown only if Congress agreed to defund or delay the health care law.
Hagan dished it out herself at the Chapel Hill event, where tickets went from $500 to $10,000. She mentioned Republican strategist Karl Rove, who is expected in North Carolina next week for Tillis fundraisers, and the Koch brothers, who support Americans for Prosperity, which has run an ad recently critical of her.
They’re “trying to take me down,” Hagan said.
Obama announced Thursday a one-year delay in requiring insurance companies to eliminate plans that don’t meet the minimum coverage standards, which have resulted in the policy cancellations. Hagan has said the delay doesn’t go far enough and wants a permanent fix. Harris and Tillis have said they want the overhaul law repealed.
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