Why Health Care Is Mitt Romney's Jeremiah Wright
Romney dodged health care reform at CPAC 2011. But he'll have to ditch "RomneyCare," the same way Barack Obama used his 2008 race speech to help him break with his fiery pastor.
It's still 2011, but at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference, the 2012 presidential race may have found its Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Only this time, the candidate isn't President Barack Obama, and this year's Wright -- the preacher Obama broke with in 2008 to win over middle-American voters -- isn't a reverend at all.
This time around the candidate is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Romney's Rev. Wright is his own brainchild: the individual health care mandate put into law in Massachusetts and known as "RomneyCare."
Romney got what he came for at CPAC -- the American Conservative Union's annual jamboree that's a must for every GOP presidential hopeful not named Sarah Palin -- finishing second in the CPAC straw poll to quixotic libertarian obstetrician and crowd favorite Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
And in a news cycle dominated by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, conditions were right for the immaculately coiffed but perpetually dull Romney to drop a largely uninspired speech on the CPAC crowd, describing long unemployment lines as "Obama's Hoovervilles."
Romney threw all the expected jabs, calling Obama a "weak president" with no foreign policy; complaining that in January, "Canada created more new jobs than we did"; dismissing Obama's recent outreach to corporate America with, "Saul Alinsky was out; Jeffrey Immelt was in"; and ripping first lady Michelle Obama's organic garden.
But Romney, who, like Obama, is a Harvard Law-trained multimillionaire, sidestepped the big issue that joins them at the hip and could ultimately sink Romney's second White House bid: "ObamaCare" is just "RomneyCare" gone national.
In 2006, Romney touted the virtues of the individual mandate that's now the bête noire of conservatives from coast to coast. Writing in the Wall Street Journal (in an op-ed no longer available on its website), he argued, "Someone has to pay for health care that must, by law, be provided ... we insist that everyone purchase health insurance from one of our private insurance companies."