Koch Group Brings Canadian to Charlotte to Attack Obama

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Canadian citizen Shona Holmes, right, with members of the House Republican leadership Rep. Roy Blunt, left, Minority Leader John Boehner, Rep. Judy Biggert, and Minority Whip Eric Cantor about Holmes's travel to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona for surgery to remove a cyst in her brain that was causing her to go blind.

Blocks from where Democrats are holding their convention this week in Charlotte, a Canadian resident is warning of the dangers of President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

Shona Holmes is in town to promote an Americans for Prosperity ad. The nonprofit backs Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and was co-founded by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch. Its latest ad, called “Replace,” is part of a $27 million Americans for Prosperity ad buy in swing states including North Carolina that expressly calls for people to vote Obama out of office.

Holmes said she sought treatment for a brain tumor in the U.S. rather than wait several months for health care in Canada, a delay that she said would have put her life at risk. “To protect Americans patient-centered care, we must replace president Obama,” an announcer says in the ad.

Holmes made a similar claim in Americans for Prosperity ads in 2009. She has also testified before Congress and appeared at rallies related to the health-care law.

Some groups have questioned both Holmes’s personal story and the tie between Obama’s health-care law and the Canadian system.

One difference between them: The U.S. health-care law doesn’t implement a single-payer system in which all Americans are covered by the government. Canada does.

Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said the two plans are “not exactly alike, but they’re relatively similar.”

“The history of greater government involvement in other countries is that wait times do increase,” he said.

It is an “exaggeration” to say Holmes would have died from her condition, a top Canadian neurosurgeon said in a July 31, 2009, report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Holmes was diagnosed with Rathke’s cleft cyst, a benign, slow-growing tumor that’s not known to be fatal. Back home, Holmes was vilified as a traitor and received death threats, according to a July 30, 2009, report in the Globe and Mail.

At today’s press conference, Holmes said Obama supporters “attacked the messenger rather than listening to the message.” She said she has endured “an avalanche of criticism” because Canadians “are very defensive of our health-care system.”

In addition to highlighting its new ad in Charlotte, Americans for Prosperity will hold a rally this evening outside the convention center there. And the group is starting a bus tour this week from Charlotte. Holmes said she’ll be in Charlotte all week to do interviews.

The group also held events during the Republican National Convention last week in Tampa. Co-founder David Koch and fellow board member Art Pope were honored by their group for their contributions to business.

Lisa Lerer contributed to this report.

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