Of all the things conservatives dislike about the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” its so-called “individual mandate” is the thing they hate the most. And guess what? Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who has never been shy about possibly breaking with hard party lines, likes it. Or at least that’s what he told Anderson Cooper during the second part of the CNN GOP Town Hall in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday.
In a question assuming the repeal of Obamacare, which many Republican presidential candidates have promised to do if elected, Cooper asked Trump whether or not insurance companies would insure anyone with a pre-existing condition. The New York real estate mogul surprised the CNN anchor and the audience with his answer.
“I like the mandate. So here’s where I’m a little bit different. I don’t want people dying in the streets, and I say this all the time… The Republican people, they’re wonderful people. They don’t want people dying on the streets.”
The mandate, which requires all U.S. citizens to acquire health care either through Obamacare or via private means by 2014 or face a financial penalty, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court in Atlanta and other courts in other states. All of these challenges led to a 2012 showdown in the Supreme Court, in which Chief Justice John Roberts surprised conservative politicians and pundits and sided for the mandate.
Much of what Trump said in the rest of his response revolved around three main points:
- I say this all the time, and I get standing ovations for saying it.
- President Barack Obama lied to ensure Obamacare’s passage.
- Obamacare will be repealed.
By Friday morning, however, all anyone can focus on is the fact that Trump said he likes the mandate. The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine and website, argued that Trump’s comments not only alienated the Republican base he was trying to align himself with, but also implied that any who disapprove of the mandate want people to die in the streets.
As for the supposed Tweeter-in-Chief’s many, many adoring (and totally real) followers and spiteful detractors, only confusion remains.
As well as acknowledgment.
And, in some instances, denial.