Health-Care Reform Will Dog Romney, With the White House’s Help [Updated]

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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Mitt Romney may very well be the front-runner for the Republican Party presidential nomination, but the big (as Donald Rumsfeld would put it) "known unknown" looming over his candidacy is to what extent the albatross of RomneyCare — the health-care reform enacted in Massachusetts under Governor Romney in 2006 that is similar in many ways to the reviled ObamaCare — will hinder him in the primaries. Romney will be endlessly assaulted about health-care reform by his primary opponents, and the tea-party-tinged ruling by a Florida federal judge this afternoon striking down ObamaCare should only make things worse for him by bringing the issue back into focus as the campaign season heats up. And since the White House would prefer to face a divisive tea-party candidate over the more broadly appealing Romney, they'll do their part to remind everyone about the similarities between ObamaCare and RomneyCare as well. In fact, they've been doing it for nearly a year already, whenever the opportunity arises.

Just today, President Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, made a tongue-in-cheek reference to Romney's "good ideas" in a USA Today interview:


He pointedly praised one of the leading contenders, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, in a way that spotlighted Romney's vulnerability within the GOP for signing a state health care law that parallels the new federal law in some ways.

Romney "did some interesting things there on health care, you know," Axelrod said. "We got some good ideas from him."

There was also Obama's appearance on 60 Minutes in November:


"We thought that if we shaped a bill that wasn’t that different from bills that that had previously been introduced by Republicans — including the Republican governor in Massachusetts who’s now running for president — that we would be able to find some common ground there, and we just couldn't."

And his sit-down with Matt Lauer on the Today show last March:


"I think that the Republican Party made a calculated decision, a political decision, that they would not support whatever we did... And I think that's unfortunate because when you actually look at the bill itself, it incorporates all sorts of Republican ideas. I mean, a lot of commentators have said, you know, this is sort of similar to the bill that Mitt Romney passed in Massachusetts."

Also last March, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed in a press briefing that only one difference separated RomneyCare from ObamaCare:


"I’ve talked about the fact that this legislation looks an awful lot like what happened in Massachusetts, and I’m sure Governor Romney hates every time I say that. The only difference really is that we addressed cost, and Massachusetts didn’t do that, and it took them a while to get to that curve."

You can tell this line of attack is really going to please them to no end.

Obama adviser turns sights to 2012 campaign [USAT]