GOP Robo Calls Target Kratovil on Health Care
Rep. Frank Kratovil, of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, earned the dubious distinction Thursday of becoming the only Maryland congressman to be targeted Republican robo-calls over the health care issue.
As President Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress launch a final push for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. medical system, Kratovil again finds himself uncomfortably in the spotlight on a major national issue.
Republicans have seized on media reports that list Kratovil as a potential flip-flopper on the issue to batter the 41-year-old centrist Democrat with a fresh wave of attacks.
In fact, though Kratovil has been widely reported to be among a small group of House Democrats who might change his position, he reiterated this week that he intends to vote against the Democratic legislation that is expected to come before the House later this month.
The freshman congressman, a popular target for Republicans since the day he took office last year, is among the most vulnerable House Democrats in the country in 2010 because he won by a razor-thin margin in a largely Republican district in 2008.
Kratovil voted against the House version of the health care bill last year and has said he will vote against the Senate version of the bill when it comes back to the House sometime in the next few weeks.
That vote is designed to be the first phase of an effort by Obama and the Democrats to push health care legislation through Congress, using a process known as reconciliation that both parties have employed over the years to gain approval of controversial measures with 50 Senate votes, as opposed to a 60-vote supermajority.
Kratovil has said he remains open to voting for the reconciliation package, but only if it addresses his concerns--which include the overall cost of the package and the impact on small businesses and rural areas--that led him to oppose the Democratic proposal last year, his spokesman, Kevin Lawlor, said.
However, the Marylander is regarded as unlikely to support the follow-up initiative unless it receives broad bipartisan support in Congress.
“He’s reserving judgment,” said Lawlor, referring to the reconciliation package that has yet to be written and would first have to clear the Senate. “But he’s not going to vote for anything that looks like the House bill that he voted against.”
Lawlor said that the call volume to Kratovil’s Washington office had gone up Thursday after the automated Republican calls went out across the district.
“We’ve gotten an awful lot of phone calls, and it’s hard to tell what comes from a paid robo call and what doesn’t,” the Kratovil aide said. “We’ve consistently engaged with our constituents on this issue, and the calls are a good opportunity for us to tell people that he voted “No” on the bill the first time it came through the House. In most cases, callers agree with the actions he’s taken on the issue.”
Andy Sere, a spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee, said that “thousands of targeted phone calls” were going out to Kratovil’s district, which takes in the entire Eastern Shore and portions of Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Harford counties.
He said the national Republican Party's House committee, which is unofficially backing Baltimore County state Sen. Andy Harris’s campaign for the Republican nomination this fall, had not yet begun to air a new round of radio attack ads against Kratovil, as it did last year.
The shape of the national Republican campaign against Kratovil “will continue to evolve as things change,” Sere said in an e-mail.
Here is a transcript of the NRCC calls targeting Kratovil:
Hello I’m calling from the NRCC with a Code Red alert about an impending health care vote in Congress. Even though a majority of the country wants them to scrap it, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama are planning to ram their dangerous, out-of-control health care spending bill through Congress anyway. What’s worse, Congressman Frank Kratovil might vote for it. Frank Kratovil votes with Nancy Pelosi 84% of the time and may follow her orders on this bill, too. Frank Kratovil might vote for a bill that will kill jobs, raise the costs of health care, and increase taxes. Frank Kratovil should be focusing on creating jobs, yet he might be the deciding vote that causes this massive new spending bill to pass. Please call Frank Kratovil now at 202-225-5311 before it is too late and tell him to vote "No" on Nancy Pelosi's dangerous health care scheme. Visit www.NRCC.org/CodeRed to learn more. This call was paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. 202-479-7000.
To listen to an audio version of the call, click here.