With “Obamacare” an anathema for conservative voters, it was bad enough for Mitt Romney that the phrase “Romneycare” had caught on as the description for the health-care law he enacted in Massachusetts. Now, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has added to his woes by coining a phrase that merges the two unpopular health-care laws into one: “Obamneycare.”
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Pawlenty was asked by host Chris Wallace whether he saw a difference in principle between Obamacare and Romneycare. Pawlenty replied:
Well, you don't have to take my word for it. You can take President Obama's word for it. President Obama said that he designed Obamacare after Romneycare and basically made it Obamneycare.. . . And what I don't understand is they both continue to defend it.
This is a brilliant move by Pawlenty. The Massachusetts health-care law is the Achilles’ heel of Romney’s campaign. He can’t disavow it, because this would feed into his image as a flip-flopper. So he must try to untangle his law from Obamacare with a complicated appeal to federalism, arguing the distinction between creating an individual mandate at the state level as opposed to at the federal level. Romney delivered a long speech in Ann Arbor, Mich., a few weeks ago that attempted to do just that. http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Romneyon Now Pawlenty has delivered a devastating, one-word rebuttal.
Romney’s response? Ignore the attack and try to change the subject. A Romney spokeswoman declared after Pawlenty’s appearance:
Republicans should keep the focus on President Obama’s failure to create jobs and control spending. People are looking for leadership on the economy and the budget. Mitt Romney wants to be that leader.
Romney will have to do better than that in tonight’s debate.