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Nationwide bus tour for health care stops in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A few dozen people joined Mayor Pete Buttigieg and MoveOn.org at the steps of the old courthouse Tuesday to rally for the Affordable Care Act.

“Are we going to send a message that if they come for our health care, we’re going to come for their jobs?” a speaker said.

“Yes!” chanted the crowd.

“Reproductive care is health care!” the crowd said, following another speaker’s chant.

Under blue skies and beside a bus stamped with #ProtectOurCare, demonstrators in South Bend rallied to keep the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday.

“It’s an example to folks across the country of how a community can band together to oppose a bill that would’ve potentially cost thousands of lives and taken away health care from tens of millions of people,” said Ben Wikler, who spoke at the event and is the Washington director for MoveOn.org.

Wikler and his progressive team are part of an effort to bring the “Drive for Our Lives” bus around the country to talk health care during the August congressional recess.

“At every stop, it’s gathering local activists, national voices, local leaders, people who are involved in the fight to stop the repeal efforts and who want a health care system that works for everybody,” Wikler said.

“I think sometimes being from a smaller city, you worry that our stories are not being heard or we’re not part of the national dialogue,” said Mae Kilker, who spoke at the rally. “But South Bend really has a chance to show we care.”

Kilker was one of several local health care activists who spoke at the event.

Another was Jennica Liberatore, whose triplets were born prematurely and benefited from Obamacare.

“They needed a nearly 3-month NICU stay, which combined, would’ve cost us over $5 million,” she said.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg also took part in the event.

After leading a “Stand up! Fight back!” chant, he said the rally was an opportunity to stick up for South Bend’s families.

“This is about politics,” Buttigieg said. “This isn’t about Democrats and Republicans. This isn’t about Obama. This is about us and our health care. And if congress tries to take it away, we’ve got to make sure that we stand up and fight for it.”

The bus left South Bend in the early afternoon on Tuesday and is headed next for Tennessee.

During the rally, some participants said Congresswoman Jackie Walorski turned down an invitation to attend.

Her team said Tuesday afternoon that she never received a formal invitation, and was instead in Goshen appearing at a few events.

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