- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Some Republicans have sought to cast Tuesday’s elections as a referendum on the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, but the White House argues that voters actually care much more about the recent government shutdown.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday said Americans are more concerned with the shutdown and its long-term effects than “anything else, really,” and that issue will be on their minds as they had to the polls in Virginia, New Jersey, New York City and elsewhere.

“We’ve moved on here in this room and elsewhere across Washington on what the story of the day is … but when it comes to the American people out there, I guarantee you that most of your readers and viewers and listeners care a lot more about their economic plight and how the shutdown affected their lives and how what Washington does affects economic growth and job creation than a lot of other things. Anything else, really,” Mr. Carney told reporters at Tuesday afternoon’s briefing.

His words came in response to a direct question about what issues will motivate Americans as they elected a governor in New Jersey and Virginia, a new New York mayor and vote in other other important contests across the nation.

Republicans, such as Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, have explicitly said Tuesday’s election is a referendum on Obamacare, as problems with the law become more apparent with each passing day.

Mr. Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, faces off against Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

It’s undeniable that Obamacare is dominating headlines, but the administration wants to keep attention on the government shutdown and, according to the White House, the GOP’s responsibility for it.

“The shutdown was basically a willful deliberate action taken by some in Congress to do harm to the economy and harm to the middle class,” Mr. Carney said. “We are now, and we will for a long time, experience the consequences of that kind of reckless behavior on Capitol Hill.”