By Jim Nolan
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli on Monday called for President Barack Obama to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over what he termed a "national embarrassment" in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Cuccinelli, the first attorney general to sue the federal government over the health care law, spoke at a rally in Loudoun County that was attended by several other Republican attorneys general.
At the event in Sterling, Cuccinelli was asked about the federal government shutdown and declined to take a position on the compromise that ended a 16-day standoff, according to The Associated Press.
The rally was just the latest strike point in what has become a multipronged assault on the health care law by the GOP candidate, who has recently slipped further behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the race for governor with just two weeks until Election Day, Nov. 5.
Both major-party candidates are attempting to appeal to their base of supporters in the closing days of the campaign to drive turnout. And while polls showed Virginia voters held Republicans more accountable for the recent gridlock in Washington that threatened U.S. default over a bid to defund "Obamacare," they also show mixed support for the act.
Cuccinelli also called for Congress to back legislation delaying the individual mandate provision of the law by one year. Exemptions have already been provided to large employers affected by the act.
"President Obama put Kathleen Sebelius in charge of implementing a bad policy that is already having disastrous consequences as it intrudes upon our fundamental liberties and significantly exacerbates the uncertainty already felt by job creators in Virginia and around the country," Cuccinelli said in a copy of prepared remarks distributed to reporters.
"The entire program," he added, "has been marred with delays, concerns about the security of our citizens' personal information, and the embarrassing failure of the website meant to provide access to insurance coverage. ... American taxpayers should not be forced to pay for the setup of Obamacare and then be penalized when it doesn't work."
McAuliffe has expressed support for the law and for expanding Medicaid in Virginia as part of the legislation, saying it will drive jobs and the state's economy.
"This is just more political grandstanding from a man who claimed that his refusal to support the Violence Against Women Act or to denounce Ted Cruz's shutdown were because he didn't want to get involved in federal issues," said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin.
"Ken Cuccinelli has spent his entire career putting his own ideological agenda ahead of what really matters to Virginians."
Both candidates will participate in a third and final debate of the campaign Thursday at 7 p.m. on the campus of Virginia Tech.