Donald Trump and the Republicans’ latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare was already looking like it was heading for the trash can.
“When I saw Jimmy Kimmel’s very emotional appearance and narrative, and his plea that we should make sure people with pre-existing conditions are not excluded, I said this could the crushing blow to the effort that is going on to overturn this,” said David Axelrod, former chief strategist to Barack Obama.
“If I were a wavering member of the House and saw that, I might think I am not walking the plank on that.”
Republicans are currently scrambling for votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, before an 11-day recess that starts on Thursday. After announcements from two key Republicans who said they could not support the bill – Billy Long and Fred Upton – the Washington Post said its analysis found 21 House Republicans were either opposed to, or leaning against the bill, and 22 more were either undecided or unclear ion their positions.
It said that if no Democrats supported the bill, the Republicans could not afford to lose more than 22 votes if it was to pass in the House. Failure to pass the bill would be another major embarrassment to Mr Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
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Speaking during an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday night, the comedian talked for 13 minutes about his newborn son.
“I have a story to tell. You know I try not to get emotional but it was a scary story,” he said.
He added: “If your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied for having a pre-existing condition.
“If your baby is going to die and doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something – whether you’re a Republican or Democrat or something else – we all agree on that.”
Axios reported that Kimmel’s speech was seen by millions of people. It said that on Facebook, the clip received over 14 million views and 230,000 reactions in less than 24 hours. It said his posts did not usually receive more than 1 million views.
On Instagram, the video post received 122,968 views and 20,022 likes, while on Twitter, the video received over 26,000 retweets and 79,000 likes. The website said his tweets did not normally earn more than a couple of hundred retweets.
Making sure the message was even more widely distributed, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton tweeted their support, along with various celebrities. Kimmel’s wife subsequently posted on Twitter a photograph of the baby boy after he had undergone heart surgery.
Ethan Rome, co-director at the advocacy group Health Care for America Now, said he believed that Mr Kimmel’s speech was the sort of thing that could encourage members of the public to pick up the phone and call their congressman.
“The clip was everywhere, on digital and TV. I have no doubt that it put people into action,” he told The Independent. “He gave voice to an issue that the vast majority of Americans are concerned with. That is one of the thing that is so bad about the bill.
Mr Rome said: “I would expect that people made calls as a result.”