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Romney Won't Adapt Mass. Plan

Friday, August 24, 2007

HEALTH-CARE VISION

Romney Won't Adapt Mass. Plan

While governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney helped write an innovative plan that created universal health insurance in his state through offering tax subsidies for low-income people, expanding the number of people on public programs such as Medicaid, and creating a state agency that made it easier for people to buy private insurance. It has become a model for Democrats and Republicans around the country.

But if voters are looking for that kind of plan for the whole country, they should look to Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and former senator John Edwards (N.C.), who have offered approaches to creating universal health care that would largely take the Massachusetts model to a national level.

Romney, a GOP presidential candidate, is to outline a much more careful, limited vision for health-care reform than those two Democrats in a speech today in Florida, as Republican primary voters are wary of large expansions of the government into health care.

According to his campaign, Romney will argue that a "one size fits all national health-care system is bound to fail," and will instead call for states to take the lead on reform.

Like President Bush and another GOP candidate, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Romney would create tax benefits for people who buy private insurance. He would also reduce the requirements that states and the federal government put on private plans.

In laying out this proposal, Romney is continuing his delicate discussion of the health-care law he signed in Massachusetts last year. He is eager to tout his achievement as governor, where he took on a public policy issue that has bedeviled politicians on both sides of the aisle, most notably Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yesterday, the senator from New York laid out a proposal to improve health-care quality in New Hampshire and will offer an agenda next month to cover the country's 45 million uninsured.

Romney calls for national solutions on issues such as education, but he has argued that health care should be handled state by state. This allows him to avoid answering questions on whether he would require all Americans to buy insurance -- a provision in the Massachusetts law that might not be well received by GOP voters.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

CALLING ON FAMILIA

Richardson Seeks Latino Support

The campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has several staff members whose only job is organizing women to back her, and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) says he'll win the presidency in part by dramatically increasingly turnout among blacks. So now fellow Democratic candidate Bill Richardson is practicing his own kind of identity politics. The New Mexico governor is trying to get Latinos to organize around his candidacy through a campaign initiative called "mi familia con Richardson," or "my family with Richardson."

Richardson aides say they hope that people who join the groups will donate to the campaign, and will encourage friends to give and to hold events for Richardson.

The effort also has another goal: making sure Latino voters know that the Mexican American governor is one of them. Most national polls show Richardson far behind Clinton among Latino voters, as he is among voters overall. "One of the challenges we face is introducing him to the larger Hispanic community," said Tom Reynolds, a campaign spokesman. "They don't necessarily equate the name Bill Richardson because it's a very Anglo-sounding name."

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

SHARPENING HIS PENCILS

Speechwriter On Board for Thompson

Matt Scully, a former speechwriter for President Bush who angrily accused his former boss, Michael Gerson, of stealing all the limelight, is back to work -- this time for soon-to-be-candidate Fred Thompson (R).

Thompson spokeswoman Linda Rozett confirmed yesterday that Scully has joined Team Thompson, but would not say what, specifically, he is doing for the non-campaign.

"We are a team effort," Rozett wrote in an e-mail. "A lot of people are helping Fred Thompson test the waters -- Ed McFadden, Mary Matalin . . . and Matt Scully."

Word on the street is that Scully is busy writing Thompson's announcement speech. But as of now, it's not clear exactly when that speech will be given.

Advisers say it is likely Thompson will announce in the first week of September, after Labor Day, but before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

-- Michael D. Shear

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