U.S. Rep. Karen Handel wants to talk health care as she seeks a second term in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, but is sidestepping a radioactive debate over Obamacare in favor of something a little more bipartisan.
The Roswell Republican’s second television ad of the midterm cycle focuses on her support of a lower-profile law designed to give terminally ill patients greater access to experimental drugs.
“Right to Try,” a 30-second spot her campaign plans to roll out on TV and digital platforms on Wednesday, opens by telling the story of Handel’s younger sister.
“A revolutionary surgery saved her life,” Handel says in the ad. “But all too often government red tape blocks life-saving treatments while loved ones suffer.”
Like Handel’s first ad, which focused on human trafficking legislation, the spot expands on an experience from her own life and features an intimate home setting. It starts with Handel sitting at the dining room table with her sister, the two grasping coffee mugs, before expanding to discuss her legislative work on Capitol Hill.
Not mentioned in either ad: the name of her Democratic opponent, Lucy McBath, or President Donald Trump.
The spot highlights a bill Congress passed in May that allows patients with life-threatening conditions to request experimental medication from drug makers, even if a treatment has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The measure was opposed by patient groups and some former FDA commissioners, who warned it could expose patients to potentially unsafe therapies. Supporters say it provides a beacon of hope to vulnerable patients by giving them more control over their health care decisions.
The bill sailed the Senate by unanimous consent but passed the House on a mainly party-line vote.
Health care has once again emerged as one of the most prominent issues on the campaign trail, particularly among women. Roughly 16 percent of likely Georgia voters, including 19 percent of women, listed health care as the single most important issue determining their vote this fall in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s latest poll.
Female Republican candidates such as Handel face a particularly delicate balancing act this year as they look to win over suburban voters, including some independent and GOP women who are uncomfortable with Trump.
Talking about “right-to-try” is a far less incendiary proposition than the highly-divisive Affordable Care Act. (Handel was not yet a member of Congress when the House voted to repeal the law last May but said she would have supported the effort.)
McBath, meanwhile, has made her support of Obamacare a central pillar of her campaign and has frequently discussed her own bouts with breast cancer on the trail.
Handel has focused her reelection effort on her Washington voting record as she seeks a second term in the DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb-based 6th District. Her campaign said the spot is the second in a series of ads that will “emphasize Congresswoman Handel’s record of results.”
Here is a transcript of the new ad:
“My sister had a life-threatening health condition. A revolutionary surgery saved her life.
But all too often government red tape blocks life-saving treatments while loved ones suffer.
I was proud to support ‘right-to-try’ legislation, providing potential lifelines to people with a terminal diagnosis.
Now, in the face of heartbreaking circumstances, there can be hope and a chance to fight for life.”
Read more about the 6th District race:
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