ELECTION 2020

In campaign stop Nikki Haley cites Mariannette Miller-Meeks' 'moral clarity' in health care reform

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks Wednesday in Cedar Rapids in a campaign swing on behalf of Republica
Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks Wednesday in Cedar Rapids in a campaign swing on behalf of Republicans seeking election to federal office this year. She stopped in Davenport to speak on behalf of Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Ottumwa opthalomologist seeking election to the U.S. House District 2 seat. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

DAVENPORT — As a doctor and a veteran from “humble beginnings,” Mariannette Miller-Meeks will bring “moral clarity” to the health care reform debate in the country and fight to protect the Trump tax cuts, Nikki Haley told a crowd of more than 100 masked supporters in Davenport, whose temperatures were taken at the door.

The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and prospective 2024 Republican presidential candidate stopped at Dahl Old Car Home on Wednesday to give a boost to the Republican Iowa state senator’s congressional campaign.

Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa ophthalmologist and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, is running against Democrat Rita Hart of Wheatland for the U.S. House seat now held by Democrat U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, who is retiring.

The district covers southeast Iowa, reaching into Scott County. It is one of 30 House districts President Donald Trump won in 2016 that is represented by a Democrat in 2020.

“Y’all really grow some strong women here in Iowa, which I very much appreciate,” Haley told the crowd, referring to Miller-Meeks and Iowa state Sen. Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, who joined the pair on stage.

“She has an amazing story,” Haley said of Miller-Meeks.

The fourth of eight children, Miller-Meeks left home at age 16 after being severely burned in a kitchen fire, worked her way through college to earn her nursing degree, enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 18 where she served for 24 years, became a doctor and is serving in the Iowa Senate.

“And she didn’t let the challenges define her,” Haley said. “She let the challenges strengthen her.

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“Do we not really need a doctor in Washington?,” Haley continued, alluding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We honestly do.”

Haley said Iowans need Miller-Meeks to bring “moral clarity” to a continuing debate over reforming the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats have criticized Miller-Meeks for her past support of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

“We agree that the next few years will be critical when it comes to improving Americans’ health care,” Hart campaign spokesman Riley Kilburg said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, Mariannette Miller-Meeks supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which would eliminate protections for those living with pre-existing conditions and coverage for essential health benefits — all while stripping more than 230,000 Iowans of their care during a pandemic. That’s not the approach Iowans need.”

Miller-Meeks has said she supports protections for pre-existing conditions and would back efforts by House Republicans to continue to provide such protections and coverage for Americans, should the law be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. But, she has argued the ACA has failed to bring down the price of premiums and allow choice.

“We need someone that understands it’s not about government taking care of everyone,” Haley said Wednesday. “It’s about the fact that you have to have transparency. And you have to give patients the most control over their own health care. And she gets that. And I know for a fact that Washington needs that. We don’t have enough people that can guide us down that path.”

Haley, too, warned of a Democratic Party she said has moved too far to the left, with progressive elements of the party calling for a single-payer national health insurance, also known as “Medicare for all.”

“The final aspect of what is at stake is the Democratic Party is not your grandparents’ party anymore,” Haley said. “It’s not the conservative Democrats. This is the progressives who want to turn free enterprise into socialism. And let me tell you, when you give government control of your health care, you are literally turning over your life.”

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Haley, too, bashed Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s plan to roll back the income tax reductions of Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul for those with incomes over $400,000. He would also include raising payroll tax and income levies on those taxpayers.

“Mariannette has already fought to cut taxes,” Haley said. “We need someone who understands that during COVID that last thing you do is tax us any more. We need more money in our pockets to be able to continue to grow.”

Miller-Meeks praised Haley, the first female governor of South Carolina who grew up in rural Bamberg S.C., as the daughter of Indian immigrants, as “a role model not only for immigrants, but for people coming from humble backgrounds, for, you know, people who overcome challenges of race and poverty.”

“She’s just such a role model for all of us and especially for young women,” Miller-Meeks said. “It’s very energizing, and it’s very motivating.”

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