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Romney's Health Care Moment Romney's Health Care Moment

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Romney's Health Care Moment

Mitt Romney(Robert Giroux/Getty Images)

May 10, 2011
That Romney's team chose Michigan as the location for the speech is significant: Romney was born in Detroit and won the state's GOP presidential primary by double digits in 2008, capitalizing on both his "favorite son" reputation as well as Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) frank assertion that millions of manufacturing jobs "are not coming back" to Michigan and other Midwestern states. Romney jumped on McCain's statement at the time and positioned himself as a friend of the auto industry, leaning heavily on the reputation of his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney (R), who once ran the American Motors Corporation. After he lost the primary and Obama was elected, however, Romney railed against the auto bailouts for GM and Chrysler -- a fact not forgotten by plenty of Michigan voters who remember Romney's stand against McCain in 2008. While Romney's remarks on health care will draw the lion's share of coverage on Thursday, his return to Michigan - part of what likely will be an enduring effort to mend fences with some voters there -- will make for an interesting subplot. The news of Romney's speech arrives on the same day he and his Massachusetts plan were blasted in the conservative-leaning editorial pages of several major publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Boston Herald. Each paper pounced on a damning new report from the Massachusetts Medical Society that showed "a continued deterioration of the practice environment for physicians in Massachusetts." The report concluded, among other things, that more than half the state's primary practices are no longer accepting new patients, and that average waiting periods for both routine check-ups and advanced operations have increased since the program's implementation. The Wall Street Journal editorial even referred to broad concept of health care reform as the "Romney-Obama theory" -- a phrase begging to be repeated by Romney's primary rivals in the months ahead. Obama and his political team have attempted to associate the federal health care overhaul with Romney's state plan, as White House officials have argued that Massachusetts provided a model for the federal legislation. Romney has moved swiftly to rebut that notion, however, forming the defense of his health care plan around this argument, made in New Hampshire on March 5: "Our experiment wasn't perfect - some things worked, some didn't, and some things I'd change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover." Most recently, Romney advanced the argument that if Obama were truly interested in following his "model," the president should have consulted his advice. "He does me the great favor of saying that I was the inspiration of his plan. If that's the case, why didn't you call me?" Romney said in Las Vegas early last month. "Why didn't you ask what was wrong? Why didn't you ask if this was an experiment, what worked and what didn't?"
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