If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. President Barack Obama's campaign has embraced the term "Obamacare," seeking to turn the negative name Republicans assigned to his healthcare reform effort into a positive branding tool just as the Supreme Court studies the law's constitutionality.
"Happy birthday, Obamacare," Jim Messina, the president's campaign manager, wrote in an email to supporters last week to note the anniversary of the reform becoming law. "If you're tired of the other side throwing around that word like it's an insult, then join me in sending a message that we're proud of it," he wrote.
David Axelrod, the president's top campaign strategist, was more blunt. "Hell yeah, I like Obamacare," he said in an email to Obama supporters, encouraging them to express the same sentiment by clicking on a link to a campaign website and typing in their email address and zip code.
It was not always this way. The White House has referred studiously to Obama's signature legislative accomplishment as the "Affordable Healthcare Act" for most of the two years since it passed. Meanwhile, Republicans coined "Obamacare" to tie the president to the law, which polls show is still very unpopular with many Americans.
With the Supreme Court in the midst of three days of arguments in a process that will determine the 2010 law's fate, Obama's advisers sought to shift from defense to offense in influencing public perception of the law. "They're calling the bluff," said Allen Adamson, a brand expert at Landor Associates. "For the people who like it, they're going to instantly associate it more directly with Obama. And for the people who don't like it, (it's) not going to make a lot of difference."