Republicans attack Obamacare as they gear up for White House race in 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 April, 2014, 5:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 April, 2014, 5:15am


Republicans blasted President Barack Obama's health care law in an audition before a high-profile gathering of conservatives that some political veterans said marked the unofficial start of the race for the White House.

The summit on Saturday came as prospective presidential candidates begin to step up appearances in key states ahead of the 2016 presidential contest, even though New Hampshire's influential first-in-the-nation presidential primary isn't planned for another two years.

"It's the unofficial kick-off of the 2016 process," said Republican operative Mike Biundo, who managed former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum's last presidential campaign.

The Republican Party's near-universal opposition to the president's health care law dominated the conversation just a day after Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius resigned after leading the rocky rollout of the programme derided as "Obamacare".

Texas Senator Ted Cruz declared that one resignation was not enough. "We are going to repeal every single word of Obamacare," said the first-term senator and favourite of the small government "tea party" movement.

Another tea party favourite, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, insisted that the party must broaden its appeal in order to grow. The Republican Party, he said, would not be a party of "fat cats, rich people and Wall Street".

As potential presidential candidates jockey for position, the stakes are high for November's midterm elections in which control of Congress will be at stake.

Republicans are fighting to win the six seats they need to claim the Senate majority, and if they succeed they could block Obama's legislative priorities in the final two years of his presidency.

The president's health care law could figure prominently in November's House and Senate contests across the US.