Close associates of President Donald Trump have launched a commercial campaign calling on people to thank a South Carolina congressman for opposing the Affordable Care Act.
The campaign is part of a $3 million push running in 12 congressional districts and organized by the non-profit America First Policies organization.
The commercials, on television and social media, ask people to thank U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) for his work on repealing Obamacare. Duncan was listed in The New York Times as having concerns with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). By press time, his office had not responded to messages asking for comment on the commercials.
Duncan is part of the House Freedom Caucus, members of which were opposed to elements of the AHCA, the proposed legislation backed by House leadership and Trump. Lack of support is blamed for the bill failing before it came to a vote.
Duncan is generally regarded as a more hard-line right member of the House.
One commercial that aired recently describes Obamacare as a "disaster" and claims it will get worse.
"That's why Congressman Jeff Duncan is taking on Nancy Pelosi, standing firm opposing Obamacare," the commercial says. "Congressman Duncan is taking on special interests and keeping his promise to the voters to repeal Obamacare."
The commercial then asks voters to call the congressman and thank him for his courage and "standing with President Trump to repeal Obamacare now."
The Washington Post reported that the 12 congressmen being touted were among a group that told the White House they supported the AHCA. They include Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-AZ), also a member of the Freedom Caucus, who has introduced an amendment that would set up a new reinsurance program that provides $15 billion over nine years to insurance companies to cover the care of high-cost patients, with the aim of keeping a lid on premiums and keeping the exchanges afloat.
Critics say it does not provide enough money to make any substantial difference.
Those organizing the campaign told the Post that it is "a gesture of appreciation to Trump’s friends in the chamber as well as a way to encourage other House Republicans to get behind the effort to revive health-care legislation."
America First Policies was formed in January. The chairman is GOP strategist Nick Ayers, who is closely linked to Vice President Mick Pence. Its senior adviser is Katie Walsh, Trump’s former deputy chief staff who left the White House in late March.
Others involved with the group include Brad Parscale, a senior adviser who ran digital operations for the Trump campaign, and Katrina Pierson, its spokeswoman, who was a campaign aide, according to the Post.