Russ Feingold Abruptly Stops Himself From Saying He Supports Single-Payer Health Care

Russ Feingold
Russ Feingold / AP
• February 9, 2016 3:15 pm

Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Russ Feingold appeared at Marquette Law School recently and said that as talks of the Affordable Care Act were underway, he and Bernie Sanders were holding off for an even stronger bill that contained a single-payer health care option before catching himself and quickly shifting his answer to a "public option."

"On many of the issues we’ve talked about, you and Bernie Sanders would probably agree," the host began in the video captured by America Rising PAC. "What do you think of his candidacy? Do you think that he could be the nominee? If he were the nominee, would you be comfortable supporting him?"

"I’ll support the Democratic nominee whoever it is," Feingold responded. "I’ve worked with Bernie Sanders. He’s an honorable person, he is a committed progressive and I agree with him on many issues."

"In fact, Bernie and I were holding out for an even stronger bill on the Affordable Care Act," he continued. "We wanted a single-payer – we wanted an option to opt in, a public option."

After the slip-up, Roll Call asked a Feingold spokesman if the Democratic candidate supports a single-payer approach.

"There can be an honest debate about how to achieve" universal coverage, spokesman Michael Tyler answered. He added that if Feingold were to win the election, he does not plan to push for single-payer health care.

"Right now, Russ is focused on increasing access to health care through the framework of the ACA," Tyler said.

Despite Feingold’s abrupt backtrack during the event, the former Wisconsin senator, who spent 18 years in Washington, called for a single-payer health care system as far back as 1992 and as recently as 2009, when he said the "ultimate goal" of health care is to eventual lead to a system that looks like single-payer.

Amelia Chassé, press secretary for America Rising PAC, said that Feingold is so desperate to get back to Washington that he’ll abandon his positions to win the election and deceive the people of Wisconsin.

"Former Senator Feingold's desperation to get back to Washington, D.C. has reached a new low – not only will he flip flop on his fundraising pledges; he's now showing he will abandon his policy principles in his craven bid to win his old senate seat." said Chassé.

"Senator Feingold's cynical attempt to deceive Wisconsin voters about his long-held support for an extreme Canadian-style health care plan is proof of political ambition run amok."