Without a doubt, the Idaho political story of the week was Rep. Raul Labrador’s statement at a Friday town hall meeting in Lewiston: “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”
That one sentence went viral — and, for the 1st Congressional District incumbent and potential gubernatorial candidate, in all the worst ways.
Saying Labrador had earned a spot “in a whole lot of Democratic attack ads over the next year and a half,” CNN.com’s Chris Cillizza said the Republican Labrador had earned Cillizza’s tongue-in-cheek “worst week in Washington” award.
“Congrats, or something,” as Cillizza is known to say.
And that was far from the worst thing said about Labrador since Friday. Then again, when a politician trends on Twitter, it usually doesn’t go well.
Labrador took to social media Saturday — to concede that his original statement “wasn’t very elegant” and to castigate the news media for focusing on one “five-second clip.”
We don’t cover the health care debate at Idaho Education News, but we do cover elections, and we’re already gearing up for the 2018 gubernatorial race. And that election got even more interesting after Labrador’s Lewiston town hall.
Timing is crucial in politics. Labrador’s comments did not only come a day after he joined House Republicans in supporting a controversial bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The comments also came as Labrador might address his political future.
According to the rumor mill, Labrador might jump into the gubernatorial race — and soon. The House is not in session this week.
Labrador has neither committed to the race or a timetable, but has suggested he might have an announcement after President Trump completes his first 100 days in office. Trump passed that milepost in late April.
If and when Labrador enters the gubernatorial race, you can expect his health care comments to follow him. On Sunday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist took to Twitter (where else?) to throw an elbow at Labrador.
Linking to an Idaho Statesman article on the town hall meeting, the Boise physician and developer got to the point: “Ever wonder why it’s time to have a doctor as governor?”
Those five seconds aren’t going away any time soon.