The two-year anniversary of President Obama’s controversial health care law presented a political opportunity for both Obama and Mitt Romney, his likely Republican opponent this fall. Romney seized on Friday's anniversary to try to definitively distance himself from the law and the role his Massachusetts health reforms played in its enactment.
On the trail and in USA Today, Romney went after the Affordable Care Act that was modeled largely on the pioneering Massachusetts law that requires everyone to purchase insurance and set up an online exchange, or marketplace, where consumers can shop for policies. He called it “an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement, and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives.”
Obama has been stung by criticism that he has done too little to promote the law. His administration issued a report on Friday describing all of its benefits, but his campaign did the heavy political lifting: It sent Vice President Joe Biden to Florida to attack Romney’s health care views and circulated a memo that accused Romney of changing his views once he started running for president.
The Supreme Court arguments next week guarantee that the cross fire will continue--not just between Obama and Romney but also between Romney and his remaining rivals for the Republican nomination.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
How Romney Could Become Dukakis
[National Journal, 3/23/12] It’s one of the unwritten corollaries to presidential politics: if you become a joke, people won’t vote for you. National Journal’s Michael Hirsh writes that, much as Michael Dukakis handed George H.W. Bush a priceless gift in the form of the infamous image of the candidate in a tank, the Romney camp seems to have done the same for Obama with its Etch A Sketch gaffe.
Ron Paul Spokesman: Campaign ‘Hoarding Cash’
[National Journal, 3/23/12] The Ron Paul campaign is “hoarding cash” to make a big play in California and Texas—and ready to go all the way to the convention, campaign manager Jesse Benton said on Friday.
Romney, Obama Address Trayvon Martin Case; Santorum Silent
[National Journal, 3/23/12] President Obama spoke out for the first time on the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Meanwhile, Romney sent out an e-mailed statement calling it a "tragedy" that requires a "thorough investigation." Rick Santorum so far has not commented.
Santorum: If You Like Romney, Vote for Obama
[National Journal, 3/22/12] As the campaign rhetoric grows increasingly testy between the two camps, Santorum said on Thursday that Romney is so much like Obama, voters in the fall might as well stick with the incumbent. The New York Times's Nate Silver argues that these remarks leave Santorum open to attack from the right. Meanwhile, Santorum spokeswoman Alice Stewart defended the comments on Friday on CNN.
Toomey: Republicans Can Trust Romney to Govern as a Conservative
[National Journal, 3/23/12] One of the Republican Party’s stalwart conservatives, Sen. Pat Toomey, defended Romney’s conservative credentials on Friday, telling his party to trust the former Massachusetts governor in November.
The Man Behind the Mitt Romney Web Memes
[Salon, 3/23/12] A profile of Matt Ortega, the liberal activist responsible for the popular MultipleChoiceMitt.com and a EtchASketchMittRomney.com.
[National Journal, 3/22/12] The Supreme Court challenge to "Obamacare" puts a spotlight on Romney and the Massachusetts health plan his party despises. National Journal’s Beth Reinhard writes that Romney can’t run or hide from his association with his party’s biggest bugaboo, so he has decided to own it.
Romney’s Organizational Heft Has Driven Wins
[RealClearPolitics, 3/23/12] Romney’s ability to amass financial resources, staff, and elected officials in states across the country is often cited as the chief reason he will secure the nomination. Indeed, as he has struggled to close the deal with GOP voters, it’s the resources he has been able to draw upon that have made the difference.
Louisiana Unlikely to Join Romney Parade
[Wall Street Journal, 3/22/12] Louisiana, which votes on Saturday, is likely to be Santorum territory--especially if Gingrich drops out. Household income is relatively low and the share of conservative voters is high--similar to other states where Santorum has claimed victories, such as Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
A Conflicted GOP
[National Journal, 3/22/12] Charlie Cook writes that, after flirting with other candidates, GOP voters are finally realizing that Romney will be their date in the fall. But the question remains: Has Romney moved too far to the right to get back toward the center in time to make a plausible bid for independents?
Energy Issues Let Louisiana Shine
[New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/22/12] Ahead of Louisiana’s Saturday primary, the GOP presidential candidates are criss-crossing the state talking about drilling and increasing domestic production--the “silver bullet” of the campaign.
Romney on Ryan, and More
[National Review, 3/23/12] Romney sat down with National Review’s Robert Costa to talk budgets, allies, books, and the state of the GOP primary.
Wisconsin Primary Unfolds in the Shadow of Walker Recall Fight
[Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3/22/12] Wisconsin’s election on April 3 is the first time in 32 years that Republicans in the state will get to vote in a truly competitive GOP presidential primary. Yet for many, the real action lies elsewhere: The state is operating under the giant shadow of the recall fight over Gov. Scott Walker.