Offering a sneak peak of the 2012 Republican primary, a spokesman for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Thursday defended the sweeping health insurance overhaul that Romney helped enact in Massachusetts in response to criticism from former and possibly future presidential rival Mike Huckabee.
“Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered,’’ said Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. “What's important now is to return to the states the power to determine their own health care solutions by repealing Obamacare. A one-size-fits-all plan for the entire nation just doesn't work.''
Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is currently touring the country to promote his new book, A Simple Government. "Ever since the debate over [the national health care] program began, it’s been compared to 'RomneyCare,' the failed statewide health care program implemented by none other than my fellow GOP member Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts,” Huckabee writes in the book. “Any critical assessment of this program will show that it failed … and yet the Obama administration decided to emulate it in its pursuit of a national health care program.”
Both Romney’s plan and the legislation signed by President Obama's watch require most people to buy insurance—a so-called “individual mandate’’ that has become a key target for conservatives. Romney has argued that it’s appropriate for the states but not the federal government to regular health care and joined his party leaders in calling for the repeal of “Obamacare.”
Though neither Romney nor Huckabee have officially declared plans to run for president in 2012, the rivalry between the 2008 competitors is clearly not over. In an interview with National Journal on Wednesday, Huckabee was asked if he would back Romney if he was the nominee. In a less than rousing endorsement, Huckabee promised to be a “good soldier’’ and back Romney.