Mitt Romney and other vehement opponents of the health care law that was largely upheld by the Supreme Court on Thursday are now turning to the one remaining avenue of appeal: the ballot box in November.
Taken aback by the court’s ruling, Mr. Romney and Congressional Republicans quickly pledged to press forward with seeking to repeal the law and to hold Democrats accountable, a strategy that conservatives believe will help energize their voters in the fall. But a repeal vote in the House, which the majority leader, Eric Cantor, hastily set for July 11, is merely symbolic, with the real debate unfolding over the final four months of the general election campaign.
The importance of the victory for the White House was difficult to overstate, for now at least. By winning at the court, President Obama avoided being branded as a feckless and failed leader who invested too much time and political capital trying to overhaul the nation’s health care system as the economy foundered. It is an emboldening moment that provides a fresh boost of energy for his re-election campaign at the end of an otherwise frustrating month for the president, who is locked in a tight race with Mr. Romney.
But the triumph for Mr. Obama will not necessarily be enduring. The president now faces the challenge of trying to sell the merits of the health care law again in the court of public opinion, even as Mr. Romney and Republicans can campaign on their promise to repeal the measure. It was telling that he used his address from the East Room two hours after the court’s ruling to explain the law and its benefits to Americans, something that even some of his supporters said he had failed to do effectively after the law’s passage more than two years ago.