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Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, participates on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National at National Harbor, Md., March 8, 2014.
Ron Sachs—CNP/AdMedia/Corbis

The battle lines of the coming midterm elections were drawn clearly and loudly on Friday, with Republicans and Democrats hammering each other on the same issue: Obamacare, which turns four this weekend.

After Democrats said they were betting the GOP’s wholesale broadside against the health care reform law will backfire, Republicans fired back: We’ll take that bet.

“I don’t think there’s any serious observer that believes Democrats can take the House, and the Senate is slipping away from them,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters on a conference call Friday. “And that’s because Americans are hurting from this law.”

Priebus’ comments followed a memo from the Democratic National Committee earlier Friday, in which the party sought to rally candidates around the idea that the GOP will meet resistance in campaigning to repeal a law from which Americans are finally enjoying some health benefits now that it’s been implemented.

“That’s the choice voters have in November: between Republicans who voted over 50 times to take away your rights and go back to the days when insurance companies could cancel your coverage on a whim; and Democrats who will protect a law that is working for millions of Americans and make sure it works even better,” DNC spokesman Mo Elleithee said.

But GOP leaders said Friday that they’re confident running against Obamacare will be a winning strategy in 2014, pointing to Republican David Jolly’s recent victory over Democrat Alex Sink in a Florida congressional special election in which anti-Obamacare ads rained down on the Democrats. The back-and-forth messaging Friday came at a time when Democrats are still seeking to calibrate how to handle the Obamacare issue on the campaign trail and Republicans are hammering away at every opportunity.

“The map and opportunities have expanded dramatically in a year, in part because of the consequences of Obamacare,” said Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, who chairs the party’s Senate campaign arm. Moran said the GOP is eyeing up to 13 states in its bid to win control of the Senate; Republicans need to pick up a net of six seats to retake the chamber.

“I think it’s important that Republicans support improving our health care system, but Obamacare creates so many problems it is not workable,” Moran said.

“On occasion, rare, but occasionally someone will tell us the benefits” that Obamacare has brought them, Moran conceded. “My opinion would be: surely we can develop a healthcare plan that is not so damaging to so many people, their businesses and their families.”

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