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Sen. Rob Portman calls constituents with Athens volunteers on October 25. (FILE)

Portman says he will work to repeal Affordable Care Act at Athens campaign stop

Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH, told Athens supporters Tuesday that he would continue efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and “replace it with something better.”

Portman, who is running for re-election, was in town as part of his "Countdown to Victory" RV tour throughout hio, which launched over the weekend and has included stops in Columbus, Toledo, Akron and Dayton. About 20 people were present in the second floor campaign office at 80 N. Court St., including Athens County Republican Party Chair Pete Couladis, Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson and Ohio House of Representatives candidate Jay Edwards.

Portman said when it comes to issues such as the Affordable Care Act, voters would rather hear about viable alternatives rather than negative rhetoric. Republicans in Congress have tried to repeal the act multiple times since its passage. Couladis said the health care law has not been as positive as its supporters claimed, citing the recent reports that premiums would rise next year.

David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Ted Strickland campaign, accused Portman of catering to insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists. Strickland is the Ohio Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

"Senator Portman’s position on healthcare is just like his position on everything else — he’s pushing the agenda of the rich and the powerful, while working people pay the price,” Bergstein said in an email.

Portman thanked Couladis and Thompson, as well as the local campaign coordinator, Aric Kaskey. He also voiced support for Edwards in his campaign for the 94th district seat in the Ohio House. After his remarks, he also sat down to make a few phone calls with volunteers in the office.

The campaign raised more than $4.5 million in the third quarter of 2016, according to a news release from the campaign’s spokeswoman, Michawn Rich. According to data from the campaign, volunteers at Athens office have made just short of 67,000 calls and have knocked on 36,367 doors. Portman called the Athens campaign office “small but mighty.”

“This office has been awesome,” Portman said in his remarks to volunteers. “You guys have made 104,000 voter contacts right here in this room.”

Recent polls have placed Portman with a double-digit lead over Strickland.

Couladis said Portman has focused on issues such as curtailing the growth of federal government and fighting against increasing taxes and regulations on businesses, which appeals to his constituents in the local area.

“He’s got a great voting record and he’s done a great job representing Ohio,” Couladis said.

Couladis said his ability to push his agenda would depend on who controls the Senate and who wins the presidency, however, Portman is able to sit down with others and work on important issues.

“He’s had a good record of working on issues that cross party lines,” Couladis said.


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