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Affordable Care Act question prompts shrugs, laughter, misunderstanding

Posted by: Corey Mitchell under 1st District, 7th District, Minnesota U.S. senators, Minnesota congressional, Democrats, Republicans, President Obama Updated: February 22, 2014 - 6:30 AM

A question about the Affordable Care Act led to uncomfortable silence for three Minnesota Democrats -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz – during a town hall forum on farm issues this week in Mankato.

“I thought the Affordable Health Care Act was to save $2500 per family. What happened?” a resident asked the trio about President Obama’s pledge that the health care law would save families money.

After an awkward moment where the lawmakers shrugged and looked to each other for a response, Peterson grabbed the microphone.

“I voted ‘no,’ so I’ll let these guys handle that,” he replied, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Klobuchar and Walz acknowledged problems while defending the law, according to a report from KEYC News Channel 12 of Mankato.

“This health care discussion has got to be broader, it’s got to point out where there’s weaknesses and failures, it’s got to make sure that we’re not leaving people behind or distorting the system,” Walz said. “But don’t pretend that there was some type of safe harbor before this where everything was just peachy keen.”

KEYC issued a clarification Friday after Fox News aired a snippet of the video, claiming the lawmakers were laughing at a man’s frustration with the health care law. State and national Republicans also circulated part of the clip.

A statement from KEYC news director Dan Ruiter indicated that it was Peterson's quip, not the question about the health care law, that sparked the uproarious laughter.

“The story accused all three panel members of laughing at someone else's suffering. It also accused all three panel members of ducking the question. Anyone in attendance that day, or watching the story in its entirety that evening, knows that nothing could be further from the truth,” Ruiter wrote.

For Democrats running for Congress in dozens of districts, the Affordable Care Act could be one of the largest obstacles to their re-election bids in November.

Republicans seeking to knock off Peterson and Walz have hammered them on the issue. Peterson voted against the bill in 2010 but has since opposed Republican attempts to dismantle the law.

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