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Arkansas takes the Obamacare Ice Bucket Challenge

Sen. Mark Pryor boasts that he helped pass health-care reform

It turns out that getting health insurance is better than getting a bucket of cold ice dumped on your head. So much so that Sen. Mark Pryor -- a Democrat running to save his job in a deep red state that's gone mostly Republican in the last generation -- is running on it, albeit without the "O" word:

The ad is backed by a significant, six-figure statewide buy, I'm told. The spot tells the story of Pryor's own battle with cancer, and features the Senator sitting alongside his father, David Pryor:

DAVID: When Mark was diagnosed with cancer, we thought we might lose him.

MARK: My family and my faith helped me through the rough times.

DAVID: But you know what? Mark's insurance company didn't want to pay for the treatment that ultimately saved his life.

MARK: No one should be fighting an insurance company while you're fighting for your life. That's why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if  you get sick, or deny coverage for preexisting conditions.

The spot represents an effort to shift the debate over the law away from the land of GOP talking points where it has resided so long — in this and so many other Senate races — and back to one of the fundamental moral imperatives driving health reform, i.e., protecting the sick and vulnerable from insurance industry abuse. Republicans have long sought to dominate in the anecdote war — stressing hyper-exaggerated horror stories about canceled plans and lost coverage — while refusing to acknowledge the existence of the law's many beneficiaries.

I think what's happening in Arkansas is answering one question -- when will the tide turn and candidates start running on the success of Obamacare, instead of against it? -- but raises a whole new one. Without health care, what will the GOP base its fall campaign on? My guess? Do the words Richard Nixon and "law and order" ring a bell?

More on this week.