Viral exchange on defending health coverage leads to outpouring of grassroots support for Slotkin’s campaign

 In America

Campaign sets single-day high for individual online contributions this year after debate exchange highlighting Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s fight to defend those with pre-existing conditions

September 28, 2020

ROCHESTER, Mich. – An exchange between Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-8) set a single-day high for individual online contributions this year on Sunday thanks to her powerful defense of protections for those with pre-existing conditions during the second televised debate of her re-election campaign.

A 2020 record of 1,004 people donated, raising a cumulative $47,800. Nearly 9 in 10 of those donations were $100 or less; the average donation size was $47. 

The record donations came after a dramatic exchange in which Slotkin’s opponent, Paul Junge, suggested that Slotkin’s mother had struggled with health insurance because of “undue burdens and regulations” on health insurance companies. Slotkin’s powerful response -– “Please don’t speak about my mother, as if you understand what made her health care unaffordable to her” – received widespread attention online. Video clips of the exchange had received roughly 2.4 million views as of midday Monday.

“Americans responded to this powerful exchange because they know that health care is on the ballot in this election,” said campaign spokesman Gordon Trowbridge. “Congresswoman Slotkin knows what it means to deal with a pre-existing condition because her family has felt it. Americans also know those protections are under threat. And they will support candidates who fight for people with pre-existing conditions.”

“Undue burdens and regulations” did not inhibit Slotkin’s late mother’s ability to purchase health insurance, as Junge claimed. She struggled to afford health insurance because she had a pre-existing condition, which allowed insurance companies to gouge her. She had let her insurance lapse just months before being diagnosed in 2009 with Stage IV ovarian cancer. Slotkin responded to Junge’s claim with the same passion she’s brought to health care issues from her entry into politics:

“With all due respect, if you’re going to talk about my mother’s case, then you shouldn’t talk about it without knowing anything about it,” Slotkin said. “My mother’s case wasn’t that she couldn’t afford insurance because of undue regulation. It’s because she had a pre-existing cancer that she had had 30 years ago. … Please don’t speak about my mother as if you understand what made her health care unaffordable to her.”

A career national security professional, Slotkin is a former CIA analyst who joined the agency after the Sept. 11 attacks and later served three tours in Iraq alongside the U.S. military. In her first term in office, she has written bipartisan legislation to address PFAS “forever chemicals” that was enacted into law, and the Real Time Benefits Act to increase transparency in prescription drug prices, which passed the House with bipartisan support. 

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