The campaign road not traveled

THE CAMPAIGN ROAD NOT TRAVELED…. In Virginia’s 7th congressional district, it’s probably fair to say Democratic nominee Rick Waugh has no realistic chance of even coming close to winning. He’s taking on House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R) in a conservative district, and Nate Silver pegs Waugh’s odds of success at 0%.

But that doesn’t mean the longshot candidate can’t make an important contribution to the larger debate. The Waugh campaign unveiled this ad over the weekend, embracing a message I thought we’d be seeing more of right about now.

For those of you who can’t watch clips from your work computers, the ad starts with images of pictures drawn by children, with a voice-over that says, “A little girl who survived cancer, a boy who was born with a heart defect. Recently, it became illegal to reject these children because they had pre-existing conditions.

“Eric Cantor reject this idea. He wants to repeal the new law and allow insurance companies to reject children who’ve been fighting these battles all of their short lives.” The ad closes with Waugh reiterating his commitment to children’s health care.

A Democratic source told Ben Smith this morning that the ad “could have been a blueprint for Democrats in other races.”

That’s entirely right. For all of the contentiousness about the Affordable Care Act, it includes some really popular provisions, which Republicans fought like hell to kill — and which Republicans have vowed to repeal.

When I first started talking about the “repeal trap” nearly a year ago, this is what I was referring to. Every GOP candidate who opposed health care reform and has vowed to repeal it — in other words, nearly everyone in the party — is necessarily taking a stand against wildly popular policies. Dems were supposed to push Republicans into the trap — pressing them on their opposition to ideas that enjoy broad national support.

We’ve seen a little of this in recent months, but in general, the effort never came together.