09/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Matthew Dowd: GOP Playing With Fire On Health Care

Former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd, who was something of a reliable GOP heretic during the 2008 campaign, offered another off-message moment on Sunday when he warned that the Republican Party was playing with fire on health care.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Dowd cautioned conservatives to not go too far in pushing back against Obama's agenda, lest they be blamed for actually preventing people from getting better health care coverage.

"I think the Republicans soon have to be careful of something," Dowd said. "I know Republicans are all patting themselves on the back and saying, "We've got the Democrats on the run, Obama on the run.' I don't think it's necessarily a good political place to be in by November if you've defeated any health care reform."

Dowd's remarks get at a looming reality in the current health care debate. There is a thin line between being credited for stopping the president and being blamed for defeating reform. While a majority of Americans like their current coverage, public polls show that similar or even greater percentages of the public believe the system is broken and in need of fixing.

The Republican Party certainly knows this. In an internal RNC poll, which the Huffington Post obtained and reported, 54 percent of respondents said that America had "the best health care in the world," but 70 percent said the system was "badly in need of reform."

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