Tomorrow, Mitt Romney will deliver a speech on health care designed to move him past his RomneyCare problem, but as Greg Sargent reminds us, that won't be possible, flagging a December, 2007 exchange between Mitt Romney and Tim Russert in which Romney said he believed a health insurance mandate was a "terrific idea" and predicted that America would end up taking a "mandate approach" to dealing with health care reform.
It's the perfect encapsulation of why Mitt Romney is going to run into a brick wall trying win support from a Republican electorate hell-bent on opposing anything remotely resembling "ObamaCare." Here's the video, and it's killer:
ROMNEY: I happen to like what we did. I think it's a good model for other states. Maybe not every state, but most. And so what I'd do at the federal level is give to every state the same kind of flexibility we got from the federal government, as well as some carrots and sticks to actually get all their citizens insured. And I think a lot of states will choose what we did. I wouldn't tell them they have to do our plan. Governor Schwarzenegger, for instance, in California, has his own healthcare plan. He's going about it in a different way. I like mine better than his; he likes his better than mine.
RUSSERT: So if a state chose a mandate, it wouldn't bother you?
ROMNEY: I, I, I think it's a terrific idea. I think, I think you're going to find, when it's all said and done, after all these states that are laboratories of democracy get their chance to try their own plans, that those who follow the path that we pursued will find it's the best path, and we'll end up with a nation that's taken a mandate approach.
Romney will try to hang his hat on the fact that he says states should be given flexibility to pursue their own plans, but that won't change the fact that he was an avowed advocate for the individual mandate and predicted its adoption by most if not all states in America. In fact, as Greg noted, he made the case for the mandate on the campaign trail in 2008 as well—and he did so on video. Moreover, as Blue Mass Group pointed out today, back in 1994, Romney endorsed a federal mandate while running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.
Tomorrow, Mitt Romney can say all he wants about repealing President Obama's health care plan. But nothing will change the fact that as a Senate candidate, he supported a federal mandate, as Governor he signed a mandate into law, and as a presidential candidate he predicted the mandate would become a national model.
Odds are, Romney won't even talk about his support for a mandate tomorrow, but given his past history, the issue isn't going away, and as soon as his 2012 rivals start going after him on it, his candidacy will melt away.