Mitt Romney and his surrogates flooded the talk shows on Sunday to preview the campaign’s convention themes and broaden its appeal to a national audience, with women and independent voters in mind.
While the campaign and its allies stuck to their guns on their main narrative – the failure of the Obama Administration to create jobs and improve the economy – they also placed renewed emphasis on Romney as a bipartisan leader who is capable of working with both Republicans and Democrats.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Romney himself said he was “very proud” of the health care plan he signed into law in Massachusetts. “I’m the guy who was able to get all the health care for all the women and men for my state,” he said.
Romney’s mention of the Massachusetts plan is potentially perilous, because it is reviled by many conservatives and cited as an inspiration for President Obama’s 2010 health care reform law, which is also unpopular with many Republicans. When Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, made a positive mention of the plan on the campaign trail earlier in the month, she was torched by Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators.
Romney’s answer on health care was in part a response to the continuing controversy around comments made by Rep. Todd Akin, Missouri’s Republican Senate candidate, who suggested that women had biological protections against becoming pregnant in the event of rape. Romney reiterated his condemnation of Akin remarks and his call for him to exit the Senate race.
But Romney’s comments also were evidence of renewed attempts to paint the former Massachusetts governor as an experienced bipartisan leader and a contrast to President Obama, whose campaign rhetoric is thick with criticism for Republicans in Congress for the lack of progress in Washington.
On CBS’s Face the Nation, for example, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., the co-chair of the Republican platform committee, cited the plan as evidence of Romney’s ability to work across party lines.
“Look what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts,” she said. “He went to a Democrat legislature, and he said for the good of the state, and the people of this state, let's decide how we can get some things done.”
The idea was echoed by former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour.
“The American people want to know why don't we have a Bill Clinton?” Barbour said on Face the Nation. “Why don't we have a Ronald Reagan that will go to the other side and get things done rather than make everything political, everything somebody else's fault? It can be done because we've seen it done by two presidents.”