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Trump wants to end Obamacare but backs Miami Republican who says voters ‘can keep’ it

Alex Daugherty
·3 min read

In a pre-dawn tweet Thursday, President Donald Trump endorsed Miami Republican congressional candidate Maria Elvira Salazar, saying the former TV journalist is “badly needed in Washington.”

But if Salazar — who election forecasters say is unlikely to beat incumbent Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala — is elected, she’s pledged to make sure Obamacare is not taken away. One of Trump’s biggest priorities has been repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“Eliminating without giving something in exchange? It’s impossible,” Salazar said in a recent interview. “We’ve got to work on finding something better. The law of the land is if you have insurance called Obamacare, they cannot take it away from you. I believe that if you like your Obamacare, you can keep it.”

Salazar is seeking to represent Florida’s 27th Congressional District, a Miami-based seat that Trump lost by more than 19% in 2016. This is her second try for the seat. Shalala beat her in 2018, 52%-46%. This time, Salazar is hoping that enough Cuban-American voters will gravitate toward Republicans to win, but outside groups from both parties who bankroll TV ads have shied away from running ads in the race, a sign that both Democrats and Republicans think the race isn’t close.

“Maria is badly needed in Washington,” Trump tweeted shortly after midnight on Thursday, quoting an anti-Shalala tweet that was pinned at the top of Salazar’s Twitter page until Thursday afternoon. “She is an outstanding person who truly loves her Country and her State. Her opponent, Donna Shalala, is a political hack who is a puppet of Nancy Pelosi. She does nothing for Florida. Maria has my Complete & Total Endorsement!”

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Shalala responded with a quote-tweet of her own.

“After 228,000 American COVID deaths. One QAnon denying, Hydroxychloroquine selling, tax cheating, former TV personality endorsed another one,” Shalala tweeted.

Salazar, who has shied away from anti-Obamacare talking points in the race’s final weeks but hasn’t given specifics on how she would improve the healthcare law, didn’t respond to Trump’s tweet on social media.

When asked about Trump’s tweet, Salazar continued to repeat her attacks on Shalala, saying that Shalala’s violation of federal law by failing to disclose her stock sales “has become a very big issue” in the race. Her statement didn’t mention the president’s endorsement.

Salazar won’t say if she supports the Trump administration’s ongoing attempt to dismantle Obamacare through the courts. The district she’s seeking to represent has more than 100,000 Obamacare recipients and the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Nov. 10 in California v. Texas, a case that challenges Obamacare’s individual mandate.

“I am going to be a member of Congress. I’m not the presidency and I’m not in the courts,” Salazar said during an interview with the Miami Herald editorial board in October. “I have no comment right now because I haven’t seen the lawsuit. Once I’m in Congress and I see all the sides, then I can answer that question intelligently.”