Bob Dole says pass healthcare reform

The former Senate GOP boss says Republicans shouldn't be blocking reform legislation

By Mike Madden
Published October 8, 2009 1:37AM (UTC)
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Not every Republican is against the healthcare reform legislation President Obama is pushing -- just the ones who are still in Congress, apparently.

Former GOP Senate leader -- and 1996 GOP presidential nominee -- Bob Dole bashed Republican intransigence on reform in a speech Wednesday in Kansas City, saying the legislation ought to pass and the GOP ought to get on board with it.


"This is one of the most important measures members of Congress will vote on in their lifetimes," Dole said, according to the Kansas City Star. "I want this to pass... I don't agree with everything Obama is presenting, but we've got to do something.

Dole said Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the current Republican leader, has asked him not to speak out in favor of reform legislation because it might help the White House. But he rejected that approach. "I don't want the Republicans putting up a 'no' sign and saying, 'we're not open for business,'" he said.

Another former Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, told Time magazine's Karen Tumulty last week that he'd probably vote for the reform legislation in the end. Tommy Thompson, the Republican former governor of Wisconsin who served as secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration, also endorsed the plan, as did New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (though counting him as a Republican may not quite be fair).


None of that is likely to make any difference in terms of attracting votes from Republicans in Congress now, of course. The current GOP caucus in both the House and Senate has made it clear that's not in the cards. But the more support from prominent Republicans the legislation draws, the likelier it is that independent voters watching from home will feel comfortable with the reform proposals. And the more comfortable voters are with the reform proposals, the more comfortable moderate Democrats will be. So expect to hear quite a bit about all these various endorsements as the legislation moves along.

Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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