BARTLETT, N.H. – Call it an attempt to address an obvious political vulnerability.
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Saturday derided President Barack Obama’s health care law – modeled in some ways after one the ex-governor signed in Massachusetts – as a misguided and egregious effort to seize more power for Washington.
“Obamacare is bad law, bad policy, and it is bad for America’s families,” Romney declared. “And that’s the reason why President Obama will be a one-term president.” He vowed to repeal it if he were ever in a position to do so and drew hearty cheers from his Republican Party audience.
Then, raising the Massachusetts law, Romney argued that the solution for the unique problems of one state isn’t the right prescription for the nation as a whole, and he acknowledged: “Our experiment wasn’t perfect – some things worked, some didn’t, and some things I’d change.
“One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover,” Romney said, again earning applause. “The federal government isn’t the answer for running health care any more than it’s the answer for running Amtrak or the post office.”
With that, he used his first appearance before New Hampshire Republicans since the midterm elections to start addressing head-on the issue that’s certain to be a hurdle in his all-but-certain presidential campaign.
Romney’s states’ rights pitch is one that GOP primary voters are likely to hear over the next year as he tries to persuade them to overlook his flaws because he alone is the strongest Republican to challenge Obama on the country’s top issue – the economy.
The failed candidate of 2008 is expected to formally announce a second candidacy later this spring.
Among Romney’s biggest challenges: explaining to GOP primary voters why he signed a law that became the foundation for Obama’s national overhaul. Passed by Congress last year, Obama’s health care law has enraged conservatives who view it as a costly government expansion and intrusion into their lives because it mandates insurance for most Americans.
Romney all but ignored the topic in his last major public appearance last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
But, since then, the similarities with Romney’s 2006 law in Massachusetts have increasingly been dogging him.
Obama praised the efforts in Massachusetts during a meeting with governors at the White House, saying: “I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he’s proud of what he accomplished on health care by giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions. He’s right.”
Also, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, an Obama friend, said Romney deserves a lot of credit on health care. “One of the best things he did was to be the co-author of our health care reform, which has been a model for national health care reform,” he said.