WASHINGTON -- Battling fiercely for the White House, President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney implored voters to see the Supreme Court's health care ruling in different ways Thursday, with Obama appealing for people to move on with him and his challenger promising to rip up the law.
"Today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure," Obama declared after a divided high court upheld the law, including a requirement that people carry health insurance. "It's time for us to move forward."
Romney did just the opposite, pinning the court's decision to the election and asking voters to render their own ruling. "If we want to get rid of Obamacare," he said, "we're going to have to replace President Obama."
Democrats and Republicans immediately launched fundraising appeals off the court's decision, underscoring the campaign ramifications of a judicial decision that is supposed to be devoid of politics. It was conservative Chief Justice John Roberts who cast the defining vote, upending the traditional lines of political attack.
The outcome was a personal win for Obama. But Republicans were emboldened that it would cost him, given that the law as a whole remains unpopular and that the insurance mandate was deemed by the court to be a tax -- a term never popular in an election year.
Speaking from the East Room, Obama tried to steer the conversation toward the ways he said the law is helping millions of Americans.
"I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this -- about who won and who lost," he said. "That's how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point."
Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said. "What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States. And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare."