In a poor state like Florida, it seemed like a no-brainer for a U.S. Senate candidate to back a plan so that every man or woman gainfully employed could pay for and get the health insurance they need.
He lost, his plan bashed as part of the socialist state.
Sound like the 2010 fight over Obamacare? Sure.
But this happened 60 years earlier in Florida in the Democratic race between incumbent Claude Pepper and the man who tarred him as a red, George Smathers, the Miami congressman who won the U.S. Senate that year.
It sure seems like some things never change, laughed James C. Clark, University of Central Florida history instructor and author of the must-read book Red Pepper and Gorgeous George: Claude Peppers Epic Defeat in the 1950 Democratic Primary.
One thing has remained consistent for years about Florida, Clark said. People come here hoping to retire from their jobs, retire from their government and retire from paying taxes.
And, in that regard, anything that has the whiff of more government and more taxes has struggled in Florida and continues to struggle to this day.
So perhaps its little surprise that, since its passage in 2010, President Obamas Affordable Care Act has found little traction in the Sunshine State, where Republican leaders have fought it at every turn.
Florida has a health-insurance problem. The state has the second highest rate of the uninsured in the nation, just below 25 percent. Texas is number one, at just over 25 percent.
So why would Florida, a state with so many uninsured and so many Democrats (who outnumber Republicans by 500,000) twice vote to elect Barack Obama president only to also vote for Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio, who want to scrap Obamacare?
The answer isnt clear. Because its about politics.
Politics is ultimately about people deciding the choices they're given. Its about advertising politicians as products. Its about the mechanics of turning out voters. And, perhaps ultimately, politics is about relating to people on a personal level.
Politics is about symbolism, Scotts pollster and top political advisor, Tony Fabrizio, recently told a Miami womans Republican club.
Fabrizio didnt specifically address the nuances and vagaries of Obamacare, but spoke instead about the challenges of persuading voters who often hold contradictory opinions (disliking Congress, but loving their congressman; supporting government-spending cuts, but opposing cuts to major costly programs)
That disconnect exists on every single level, Fabrizio said. In contrast to political junkies, the average voter, he said, thinks in generalities they absorb and process things at a very, very different level.
Floridians generally like the message Republicans have honed: lower taxes, less regulation and more personal freedom.
If anything, that explains why Obamacare remains unpopular in Florida in poll after poll.
Then theres the flip side of insurance needs in Florida. If 25 percent are uninsured, it means 75 percent are insured (these are for the non-Medicare-eligible population). To help the other 25 percent, Obamacare raises some taxes (primarily on the wealthy), trims some future Medicare spending, increases government mandates and could lead to cost increases of some private insurance plans.