Before Obamacare, there was Hillarycare. If former secretary of state Hillary Clinton decides to run for president in 2016, Republicans are certain to dredge up her failed attempt to pass health care reform as first lady in the early 1990s.
So it's no surprise that Clinton addressed the issue judiciously and cautiously this week in Florida. She praised the law, which is similar to the universal health care scheme she proposed in her 2008 presidential run. She also said she would be happy to improve it.
"I think we are on the right track in many respects," Clinton told the Health Care Information and Management Systems Society, according to CNN. “But I would be the first to say if things aren’t working then we need people of good faith to come together and make evidence-based changes."
Clinton's comments come as every Democratic politician struggles to neutralize the issue ahead of November's midterm elections. The law was always unpopular, but the botched rollout made matters far worse and Republicans are on the offense in the belief that attacking the law is a vote winner.
Strategists say that rather than entering the debate about what to do with such an electoral liability, Clinton's comments were a smart way to duck a tough issue.
"Hillary Clinton cannot run from the principle of Obamacare. But she does want to portray herself as a no-nonsense problem solver," said Republican Ford O'Connell, who advised Senator John McCain's presidential run in 2008. "She's aiming for the middle ground."
"This is a classic cat-and-mouse game," said O'Connell, noting that besides the small business comment, Clinton demurred when asked to name other fixes. "She's staked out her position. The Republicans have to flesh it out before she really gains some serious momentum."