Artist's rendering shows Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. speaking in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, March 27, 2012, as the court continued hearings on President Obama's health care law. Justices, seated from left are, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Samuel Alito and Elana Kagan. / AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren
(AP) WASHINGTON - A website ad from the Republican National Committee edits audio from this week's Supreme Court hearing on the health care law to exaggerate Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's struggle to find the words to defend President Barack Obama's initiative.
The ad shows a photograph of the Supreme Court Building as it plays audio from Tuesday's arguments on the constitutionality of the mandate that all Americans have health care insurance. As Verrilli speaks, the ad flashes the words: "ObamaCare. It's a tough sell."
Verrilli did indeed interrupt his opening remarks to take a drink of water and he did stumble over his words at times in the first two minutes of his presentation, according to the audio released by the Supreme Court. However, the audio in the RNC ad combines and compresses those moments, which makes Verrilli sounds as though he interrupted his opening comments twice in a matter of seconds and stumbled over his words in quick succession.
"Our goal was to make the point of what a hard sell Obabacare is," RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday night.
Verrilli is identified in the ad as "Obama's lawyer" rather than solicitor general, the administration official who represents the U.S. government in litigation before the Supreme Court.
In the RNC ad, Chief Justice John Roberts is heard introducing the case and calling on Verrilli to speak. "For more than 80 percent of Americans, the insurance system does provide effective access." Verrilli stops speaking, then a tinkling sound is heard as he takes a drink of water from a glass. "Excuse me," he says before clearing his throat and continuing: "Uh, it, uh, the, b-because the, uh, the, uh, the ..." The sound of another drink of water comes and Verrilli again says, "Excuse me."
The audio posted by the court contains the first "Excuse me," but the verbal stumbling comes about 40 seconds later after he has resumed speaking. There is no second drink of water, at least for the next five minutes, only Verrilli presenting his argument and answering questions from the justices.
"It seems that Obama's lawyer hit a bit of a snag trying to defend the constitutionality of Obama's health care takeover," the RNC says in a statement issued with the web ad. "Maybe he's beginning to realize something the American people already know: It's hard to defend a law that is indefensible."
The news service Bloomberg first reported on the edited audio.