Mitt Romney gave Republicans a sneak preview of his big Michigan health care address with an op-ed published in today’s USA Today. The piece avoids any mention of the Massachusetts plan that Romney pushed to passage while he was governor of the Bay state. Instead, it demands the repeal of Obamacare and goes on to say that health care can be made better by an approach that centers on harnessing the power of the free market, malpractice and tax code reform and giving states the flexibility to make their own choices rather than the Democrats’ “top-down approach.”
Instead of apologizing for his own version of Obamacare, as most Republicans seem to think he should do, Romney seems to be taking the position that what America needs is for the other states to emulate Massachusetts. Rather than backing away from his past, he appears to be doubling down on it.
What Romney is calling for might be a reasonable proposal but the problem is that the thing about Obamacare that most Republican primary voters disliked the most was not so much the federal concept but the whole idea of government-run health care. He may argue, with some justice, that there are great differences between his idea and the monstrosity that Obama and the Democrats rammed down the country’s throat last year. But it’s going to be a tough sell to get Republicans who see Obamacare as their main rallying cry to buy into Romney’s concept.
But even as he attempts to finesse his campaign’s biggest problem, Romney appears to be winning the money primary. According to the Washington Post, Romney has been amassing a substantial war chest of funds principally from the financial and banking industries, dwarfing the efforts of most of his current opponents.
Money goes a long way in politics and one shouldn’t underestimate the long-term impact of having a substantial financial advantage could have on the race for the GOP nomination. But if Romney can’t sell Republicans, especially the large percentage of primary and caucus voters who abhor anything that smacks of government-run health care, on the idea that his Massachusetts plan isn’t reminiscent of Obamacare, then it won’t matter how much cash his campaign has in the bank.