Though Mitt Romney has maintained throughout his campaign that there’s no contradiction in embracing the health care reform law he passed in Massachusetts while vowing to dismantle the federal legislation modeled after it, many conservatives reject the idea that such hypocrisy can be resolved through the magic of federalism. The candidate dialed back references to Romneycare recently, after talk of the legislation prompted a full-scale freak-out from pundits in his own party last month. However, on Wednesday evening when NBC News asked Romney to provide some evidence of his newfound sensitivity to the 47 percent, he dramatically revived his incongruous health care stance. “I got everybody in my state insured,” Romney said, adding that nothing “shows more empathy and care.” Moments later, he took to the stage to denounce Obamacare as proof that the president “thinks that government can do a better job than you in the way you live your life.”
The Washington Post reports that Romney touted the Massachusetts health care legislation during an interview backstage at Toledo, Ohio’s SeaGate Convention Centre, while surrogates were warming up a crowd of 3,600. “I think throughout this campaign as well, we talked about my record in Massachusetts, don’t forget — I got everybody in my state insured,” Romney told NBC’s Ron Allen. “One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”
While one not versed in Romney’s logic on the matter might think that means President Obama showed even more empathy by extending those benefits to all 50 states, Romney explained to Ohio voters that the opposite is actually true. Unveiling a revised stump speech that includes a harsher attack on the Affordable Care Act, he said of President Obama, “He wants to put bureaucrats between you and your doctor. He believes that government should tell you what kind of insurance you have to have. He believes government should have a board of people who tell you what kind of care you can receive.”
Whether Romney couldn’t come up with a better example of how he empathizes with the common man, or is just genuinely proud of Romneycare, the remark has the potential to rile conservatives once again. (In August, a Romney spokeswoman’s suggestion that the woman Romney didn’t actually kill would have had health insurance in Massachusetts prompted Erick Erikson to lament, “OMG. This might just be the moment Mitt Romney lost the election.”) On the other hand, plenty of Romney’s fellow Republicans are already bashing his campaign. Perhaps he’s decided to ignore the critics and prove he’s “about the 100 percent in America,” by siding with both voters who love Massachusetts-style health care reform and those who are passionate about seeing it repealed.