Let’s get one thing straight: No matter what Mitt Romney says in his big health care speech tomorrow, it won’t solve the huge political problem he faces with conservatives unless he flatly repudiates the individual mandate at the center of Romneycare.
I’ve now obtained two more examples of Romney in the past praising the individual mandate, including one instance in which he plainly said he thought it should go national, envisioning “a nation that’s taken a mandate approach.”
Romney’s speech tomrrow is not expected to address his role in passing Romneycare as Governor of Massachusetts, or his embrace of the individual mandate at its center. But that’s why conservatives are angry at him — they have come to view the mandate as tyranny, now that Obama used it — and they want Romney to renounce it.
Romney has tried to solve this problem by pointing out that he used the mandate on the state level, and never advocated for a federal mandate. And that’s true. But check out this exchange on Meet the Press from December 16, 2007 (via Nexis):
ROMNEY: I’m a federalist. I don’t believe in applying what works in one state to all states if different states have different circumstances...Now, I happen to like what we did. I think it’s a good model for other states. Maybe not every state but most, and so what I’d do at the federal level is give every state the same kind of flexibility we got from the federal government as well as some carrots and sticks to actually get all their citizens insured. And I think a lot of states will choose what we did. I wouldn’t tell them they have to do our plan...
MR. RUSSERT: So if a state chose a mandate, it wouldn’t bother you?
MR. ROMNEY: I’d think it’s a terrific idea. I think you’re going to find when it’s all said and done, after all these states that are the laboratories of democracy, get their chance to try their own plans, but those who follow the path that we pursued will find it’s the best path, and we’ll end up with a nation that’s taken a mandate approach.
In that appearance, Romney also reiterated that he opposes a federal mandate, and what he said above is consitent with Romney’s claim that he’s always advocated a state-based approach. But conservatives don’t care about this distinction — they hate the mandate on the state or federal level — and this now shows that Romney hoped the idea would spread to “most” states, and across the country.
Meanwhile, the left leaning group ProtectYourCare.org has unearthed tracking footage of Romney from 2008, in which he praised his use of the individual mandate. He characterized his thinking this way: “We’re gonna get everybody into the system.”....