When a reporter asked Reince Priebus Tuesday if Republicans would respond to a question about any issue by somehow directing the conversation back to the Affordable Care Act, the Republican National Committee chairman answered tongue-in-cheek.
"The answer is Obamacare," he said. "No, I'm just kidding."
Well, yes and no. The ACA is the definitely the gift that keeps giving as far as national Republicans are concerned. That's why Priebus made his playful remark on a teleconference to announce new GOP radio ads targeting several Senate Democrats and House members who echoed President Obama's infamous promise that, under the ACA, people could keep health care plans they liked.
"I don't think when you're talking about something that takes up a sixth of the U.S. economy and something that has been as dramatically misrepresented to the American people and something that's affecting everybody in their mailbox and in their lives, it's not possible for this not to be the number one issue going into the 2014 elections. It's just not.
"We're not talking about a car registration fee," Priebus added. "We're talking about people's health care, losing their doctors and their insurance. It's polling right now, in some of our polls, it's tied with the question of the economy."
The radio ads, which Priebus said will be aired in 40 markets, are meant to hit congressional Democrats in their ACA weak spot. And they contain quite a punch.
A woman's voice in one ad urges listeners to make it their new year's resolution to "keep Sen. Mary Landrieu honest in 2014." The voice says: "President Obama and Sen. Landrieu said if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it under Obamacare. They lied to you big-time. Politifact called that the 'Lie of the Year.'" Ouch.
Justin Barasky, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's national press secretary, poohed poohed the ads in a tweet. "RNC radio 'ads' are nothing more than an expensive press release. @seanspicer could fund the entire buy with his lunch money," he tweeted, referring to the RNC's communications director.
The ads are meant to soften up vulnerable Democrats early on, in advance of the onslaught that will happen closer to November, Priebus said.
The other targeted Democrats include three senators who, like Landrieu, are viewed as the Senate's most endangered species — those representing states Obama lost in 2012: Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
A few Senate Democrats who aren't quite so endangered were also targeted: Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Mark Warner of Virginia.
House Democrats skewered by the ads include two who are running for the Senate — Bruce Braley of Iowa and Gary Peters of Michigan — as well as Tim Bishop of New York and Nick Rahall of West Virginia.