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House GOP leaders were jubilant after a Republican won a competitive special election in Florida last night, crediting a focus on the economy for candidate David Jolly's victory.
“We had a big win last night in Florida," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, proclaimed at the top of a GOP press conference on Wednesday.
"And I would attribute to the win to the fact that our candidate was focused on the issues that were most important to the people in Florida 13th, and that's the economy and jobs," he said of Jolly's win over Democrat Alex Sink. Boehner's assessment was noteworthy because it didn't invoke Obamacare, a factor which figured heavily into the special election campaign.
Boehner did try to tie the Affordable Care Act into the economic narrative.
"The American people really are asking 'Where are the jobs?' And I would argue that the president's policies are making the economy worse. Top of those policies that are making is Obamacare," he said.
GOP aides say to expect this type of two-pronged messaging throughout 2014: the economy is underperforming and the healthcare law is to blame.
Democrats have largely dismissed the loss in Florida’s 13th congressional district, citing low turnout and a GOP-leaning electorate, but Boehner pushed back hard on that argument.
“I've stood up here after losing some special elections, I've tried to put lipstick on a pig, but it was still a pig. So you can bet they'll try to put lipstick on it today, but you all know what the facts are," he said.
It’s unclear when Jolly will be officially sworn into office, but it could happen as early as this week.