Rep. David Jolly: 'People See Obamacare As Big Government in Their Lives'

By Susan Jones | March 14, 2014 | 8:00 AM EDT

Newly elected Republican Rep. David Jolly of Florida poses for a ceremonial swearing-in with his mother Judy Jolly on Thursday, March 13, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( - Newly elected Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) says he ran -- and won -- on more than just the repeal of Obamacare.

"This is a big government/small government debate," Jolly told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday. "Obamacare is simply a manifestation of that. People see Obamacare as big government in their lives. It changes the role of government in their lives. That is what's resonating."

Asked what advice he would give to Republicans running in November, Jolly said, "Well, first for us, substance matters. We have to have answers."

He noted that he campaigned on alternatives to Obamacare, such as term health insurance. Republicans cannot be seen simply as the "party of no," he added.

Jolly said Republicans also need to challenge Democrats when they say they want to fix Obamacare.

"They really don't want to talk about what's really broken -- what caused canceled policies; what caused increased premiums. And we're hearing the story line of concerns among businesses who are reducing employees' hours, they're absorbing skyrocketing costs. Those are problems that it's easy to say in rhetoric....we need to fix it, but they don't really want to talk about the substance of it."

Jolly said voters see Obamacare as "an issue where Washington could do better."

"The story line of 'pass it and let's see what's in it' -- that still resonates. The fact that the president has unilaterally delayed portions of his signature legislative achievement. That resonates. It doesn't matter if we're talking health care or other issues. Voters see this as an area where Washington really messed up and they're not owning up to it, and they expect better out of Washington."

Jolly, a former congressional staffer, was sworn into office on Thursday, taking the seat of the late Bill Young.  He will run for a full two-year term in November.