Democrats Trying To Undermine Romney Inside The GOP?

Democrats won't say if they consider Mitt Romney a threat, but they're sure acting like they do.

I raised an eyebrow when I read this comment by President Obama when he addressed the National Governor’s Association today:

(CNN) – In a moment that Mitt Romney’s future GOP opponents couldn’t have scripted better themselves, President Obama Monday issued a full-throated embrace of the former Massachusetts governor’s stance on health care.

“I know that many of you have asked for flexibility for your states under this law,” Obama said during a speech to a governors meeting at the White House. “In fact, I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he’s proud of what he accomplished on health care by giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions. He’s right.”

The President is the only Democrat recently who has gone out of their way to praise Romney for a program that, everyone admits, is very similar to the health care reform law enacted last year:

In addition to Obama’s comments Monday, current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a longtime Obama supporter, told ABC Sunday that “One of the best things [Romney] did was to be the coauthor of our health care reform, which has been a model for national health care reform.”

And earlier this month former top Obama advisor David Axelrod said of Romney, “We got some good ideas from him.”

It seems pretty obvious why they’d do this. RomneyCare is as unpopular inside the GOP as the Affordable Care Act is, and Romney is one of the few prospective GOP candidates who polls competitively with the President in a head-to-head matchup. If they view Romney as one of their chief threats, then subtly undermining him within his own party is pretty smart politics.

Also, Romney is in a fairy impossible position here. He’s gone on record defending the Massachusetts program, and differentiating from the ACA on the ground that it is a state-level program rather than a national one. At least among the GOP’s conservative base, that explanation doesn’t seem to very convincing. If Romney were to repudiate the program, though, he’s be open to the accusations of being a flip-flopper that plagued him during the race in 2008. So, he’s kind of stuck with the program and his record at this point, and it makes any criticism he makes of the Affordable Care Act easy to undercut.

I’m not really a Romney fan but he definitely strikes me as a candidate that could beat Obama in November 2012 under the right circumstances. The problem is he’d have to win the nomination first.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. EddieInCA says:

    Doug –

    Romney’s stance is the proper one. It’s nuanced. It makes sense. Massachusetts citizens seem to like their health care system. The problem is that today’s GOP doesn’t do nuance. Period. Full stop. Nuance is something for those “Elites”. Real ‘murkins don’t need no stinking nuance.

    There is nothing such as a gray area in today’s GOP. Every issue is black and white.

    Reduce the deficit? Absolutely, regardless of what it does to jobs and the economy. We have to reduce the deficit and debt.

    Tax Cuts? Absolutely, regardless what it does to the deficit and the debt.

    Government Health Care? Against it, totally and completely. It’s Socialism. Just keep your grubby government hands off my Medicare, Medicaid – Part D, and VA Benefits.

    Personal Freedom and Liberty? For it, totally and completely. It’s the American Way. Just don’t smoke weed or try to get an abortion.

    Today’s GOP, hypocritical and confused.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Well, he is the next in line and historically that’s been a pretty good predictor of Republican presidential candidates. More power to them if they can make it stick.

  3. Tano says:

    he definitely strikes me as a candidate that could beat Obama in November 2012 under the right circumstances.


  4. michael reynolds says:

    Well, he’ll certainly bring Utah with him.

    Turn out the southern bible thumper vote with a Mormon? Good luck with that.

    From Wikipedia:

    Nevertheless, the LDS Church differs from the many other churches within Christianity, and many people do not accept the LDS Church as part of Christianity.[70] The faith itself views other modern Christian faiths as having departed from true Christianity[71] and that it is a restoration of 1st century Christianity and the only true and authorized Christian church.[72] Differences between the LDS Church and most of traditional Christianity include disagreement with aspects of the Nicene Creed, belief in a unique theory of human salvation that includes three heavens (referred to as “degrees of glory”),[73] a doctrine of “exaltation” which includes the ability of humans to become gods and goddesses in the afterlife,[74] a dietary code called the Word of Wisdom, and unique sacramental ceremonies performed privately in LDS temples, such as the Endowment and sealing ceremonies.

    And before anyone takes the cheap shot of calling me a bigot, I have equal disrespect for all forms of superstition. Atheists won’t be your problem.

  5. section9 says:


    The agony of the Beltway G.O.P. as Mittens is exposed as a faux, statist conservative.

    By Obama, nonetheless!

  6. Wiley Stoner says:

    There is a bit of difference between the healthcare plan in Mass. and Obama care. If I do not like Romney Care, I can move to a different state. Ever wonder how the democrats who are much closer related to the color red as in socialism than they are to blue got that switched. Guess it would be a little revealing if we called California a red state.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    I just saw the tape. Ah hah hah. Obama just bitch-slapped Romney and the rest of the GOP governors.

    Oh, that was funny.

  8. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Romney definitely would be a threat to Obama in a general election. Unfortunately for Romney, however, the chances of a Mormon from Massachusetts getting through a national GOP primary contest are slim to none, and slim just left town.

  9. Ben Wolf says:

    Ever wonder how the democrats who are much closer related to the color red as in socialism than they are to blue got that switched.

    Red is the color of revolution, not socialism. If you would read a history book now and then you migjt know this.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    Hmm. Red had been the semi-official color of socialism since the Revolution of 1848 in France when the Socialists there adopted a red flag as their emblem. The Red Flag has been British Labour’s official anthem for the last 120 years.