Romney Opens Mouth, Inserts Health Care Law

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We’re guessing most of you were watching Game 7 last night. But while the Sox were working their way toward another World Series, the Republicans were bashing the hell out of each other in a Fox News debate down in Orlando.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who remained out of the initial fray, joked that he was glad not to be involved in the fracas because “the first few minutes…were all about these guys fighting each other.” He also called the debate a “demolition derby.”

Fun.

But who absorbed the biggest blows? At least early on, it was our very own Mitt Romney. Which isn’t all that surprising considering he’s flip-flopped on everything from abortion to gay rights to stem cell research. But this is: At first, the guy landing the shots was Arizona Sen. John McCain. Then Romney took over and beat himself up.

Shortly after the debate began, McCain opened up on Romney:

“Governor Romney, you’ve just spent the last year trying to fool people about your record. I don’t want you to start fooling them about mine.”

It’s hardly surprising that McCain — once the front-runner but now barely an afterthought — would attack Romney. That’s the way these things work — you snipe up, which is why the guys at the top of the GOP field (like Romney and Rudy Guiliani) have spent so much time bashing Sen. Hillary Clinton. No, what’s curious is that Romney chose to defend himself by mentioning what an awesome job he did here in Massachusetts. You remember that, don’t you? No? Well, he swears it happened.

So he takes the high road by not firing back at McCain. Which was smart. But then he defends himself by citing the universal health care plan he helped pass here in Massachusetts. Oops. That was not so smart.

“I’m not going to give the Democratic Legislature credit for the plan,” Romney said in last night’s debate.

Huh. Really? Cause when you signed the bill, you and your people made sure to mention that the health care law was an example of how nicely you play with others. Here’s what Romney’s mouthpiece told the Globe just a few months ago.

“What’s important about the Massachusetts healthcare law is that it’s working, and Mitt Romney got it done by reaching across the political aisle,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said.

Incidentally, what happened to him pawning the bill off on the Democrats, anyway? Despite Fehrnstrom’s assertion that the health care law “is working,” it has actually been criticized for failing to accomplish what it promised. And, last February, Romney apologist Howie Carr suspected that the governor would want to avoid the topic altogether, let alone claim it as his own.

But one legacy Mitt won’t be able to walk away from, no matter how often he combs his hair straight back – the universal health care bill. He’s already backing away from it, which means it won’t be long until the videotape of the signing ceremony ends up on YouTube, if it hasn’t already.

Apparently the governor has changed his mind. Again. That, though, isn’t news. The news is that, a year into this campaign, Romney still hasn’t figured out how to avoid walking into these traps. He still hasn’t figured out a way to avoid getting hit — by the other candidates or, more remarkably, by himself.

But, to be honest, we hope he keeps on keeping on. Political theater is much more fun when there’s blood involved.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2007/10/22/romney-opens-mouth-inserts-health-care-bill/