In last night's debate, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney got into a scuffle over whether Romney had edited "No Apologies," his campaign manifesto, between the softcover and hardcover editions. Specifically, Perry accused Romney of editing out a line in which he said that his Massachusetts health care reform plan should be taken nationwide. Romney denied the accusation during the debate, but but it turns out Perry was right.
The exchange started out as Perry and Romney continued jostling over Social Security. Perry aimed to change the subject by bringing up Romneycare, saying this:
PERRY: As a matter of fact, between books, your hard copy book, you said it was exactly what the American people needed, to have that Romneycare given to them as you had in Massachusetts. Then in your paperback, you took that line out.
Romney dismissed Perry's claim as false:
ROMNEY: I actually wrote my book, and in my book I said no such thing. What I said, actually — when I put my health care plan together – and I met with Dan Balz, for instance, of The Washington Post. He said, “Is this is a plan that if you were president you would put on the whole nation, have a whole nation adopt it?”
I said, “Absolutely not.” I said, “This is a state plan for a state, it is not a national plan.”
But the fact is that Romney did do exactly what Perry had accused him of.
After the Republican presidential debate Thursday night, a senior advisor to Mitt Romney acknowledged that a line about spreading health care reform throughout the country was changed in the paperback version of Romney’s book “No Apology.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said during the Florida debate that Romney took out the single line that suggested the Massachusetts health reform law could be applied to the country. The line that is removed in the paperback version reads, “We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country.”
The line originally appeared as the concluding thought in a paragraph extolling the virtues of the Massachusetts health care reform plan. In the preceding paragraph, Romney said that his personal preference would be "to let each state fashion its own program to meet the distinct needs of its citizens."
States could follow the Massachusetts model if they choose, or they could develop plans of their own. [...] But the creation of a national plan is the direction in which Washington is currently moving. If a national approach is ultimately adopted, we should permit individuals to purchase insurance from companies in other sates in order to expand choice and competition.
What we accomplished surprised us: 440,000 people who previously had no health insurance became insured, many paying their own way. We made it possible for each newly insured person to have better care, and ultimately healthier and longer lives. From now on, no one in Massachusetts has to worry about losing his or her health insurance if there is a job change or a loss in income; everyone is insured andy pays only what he or she can afford. It's portable, affordable health insurance—something people have been talking about for decades. We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care.
Romney will of course point to what he said about preferring to let states develop their own plans, but that doesn't change the fact that he also accepted the idea of pursuing a national approach — and that he wanted to "accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country" that had been done in Massachusetts.
To put it differently, there's a reason why Mitt Romney removed the line from his book — and it's not that he still stands by it.
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