Dana Perino, one of the moderators at the second Republican presidential debate, pushed former Vice President Mike Pence to clarify his position on Obamacare—but Pence responded by going on a tangent about punishing mass shooters instead.
“You said if elected you would repeal all Obamacare mandates. However, you also made that same promise in 2016,” Perino said, noting that for the first two years of the Trump administration, the GOP held a congressional majority yet “you did not deliver on that promise.”
“So Obamacare right now, it is more popular than ever. Why should Americans trust you if you become president to fix that, or is Obamacare here to stay?” Perino asked.
According to a KFF Health Tracking Poll on public opinion about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, 59% of adults surveyed in May 2023 had a positive opinion, while 40% held a negative view. The program’s popularity, according to that data, peaked in March, with 62% of those polled holding a favorable view. Still, the program’s popularity has jumped since its rollout, from 50% unfavorable in July 2010.
“First, let me speak to the mass shootings issue and then I’ll answer that question,” Pence responded, though the issue of mass shootings was not part of Perino’s question to Pence.
Pence went on to say that as a father and grandfather, he is “sick and tired of these mass shootings happening,” and advocated for a federal, expedited death penalty for anyone involved in a mass shooting as a deterrent.
“We have to mete out justice and send a message to these wouldn’t be killers that you are not going to live out your days behind bars,” Pence said.
Perino then tried to redirect, saying, “I appreciate that, but does that mean Obamacare is here to stay?”
Pence responded that he favors federalism and returning resources, including “all Obamacare funding, all housing funding” to individual states.” He also said he would shut down the Department of Education to “allow states to innovate.”
Perino responded, “I’m not sure we got an answer on Obamacare.”