MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty approaches Monday night’s Republican presidential debate with two goals: introducing himself to as many Americans as possible and hitting home the point that President Obama has got to go.
But Pawlenty wouldn’t mind if viewers also drew a sharp contrast between him and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and presumed front-runner in the Republican field.
Pawlenty made it clear that he’s gunning for Romney on Sunday when he compared the health-care law that Romney pushed through in Massachusetts to the federal version supported by Obama. The two are so alike, Pawlenty said, that he called them “ObamneyCare.”
And so it was no accident that Pawlenty toured a prosthetics manufacturer Monday morning in Manchester, where he met a Vietnam veteran who lost a leg in the war and a 5-year-old boy born with birth defects who wears an artificial arm and leg. For the rest of the day, local and national news stations will show video of Pawlenty touring the office — and describe his criticism of Romney.
The success story of Next Step Orthotics & Prosthetics, Pawlenty said Monday, “underscores the importance of a dynamic, vibrant, innovation-oriented health-care system. That's what we’ve had in this country, and I think ObamaCare will suffocate that as government continues to try to take over more and more of that and discourages that kind of innovation in the health-care delivery system.”
Pawlenty said he probably won’t use the term “ObamneyCare” during the debate, which will be broadcast live on CNN from Saint Anselm College in Manchester. But he will answer the questions asked of him, and “I don’t think contrasting policy differences between candidates is out of bounds in a debate,” he said.
“The American people are looking for results on growing jobs, growing the economy, about doing things that match up with your words and your deeds,” Pawlenty said. “I’ve got that record in Minnesota.”