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Remember when Jennifer Rubin said Romneycare rendered Romney all but unelectable?

Remember when Jennifer Rubin said Romneycare rendered Romney all but unelectable?

Mitt Romney appeared last night for an interview with Brett Baier (video below).  Too bad Brett didn’t ask Romney why Romney refused to appear before the full panel on Center Seat, like the other candidates have done.

My biggest reaction is that it’s bizarre that Romney refuses to admit he made a mistake on Romneycare and sees sticking by a failed policy as a virtue.

I think most people will disagree with Romney, both on the merits of Romneycare and the power of acknowledging one’s own failings.  I suggested a year ago tomorrow that this refusal was an error, and I have made that point a number of times since then.

Even Jennifer Rubin, long before she embarked on her obsessive Romneyquest, recognized the problem:

However, if there is one point of consensus among plugged-in Republicans on the 2012 field, it is that Romney can’t win unless he does a mea culpa on RomneyCare. Since he didn’t [do that at CPAC] and he won’t do that, he’s not going to be the nominee. Other than Romney admirers (and even some of them!) it’s hard to find serious Republican players who disagree with that.

And so when Romney ignored the topic at CPAC, he hardly did “no harm.” To the contrary, he simply reinforced the notion that he has an insuperable problem.  Not only did his “ignore the elephant in the room” tactic not go over well with Republican pols, activists and insiders, but the competition showed up. The presence of a number of smart conservative contenders who don’t have the RomneyCare problem (e.g. Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)) reinforced the underlying problem with Romney’s candidacy: Why vote for him when Republicans can vote for someone who didn’t originate ObamaCare-lite?

Rubin continued her criticism in those pre-Romneyquest days when Romney continued to defend Romneycare:

As a Republican presidential candidate, Romney will find it hard to defend a system that resulted in a 12 percent increase in insurance rates (“meaning that basic insurance costs will cut even deeper into the incomes of most participating patients,” [Sally] Pipes notes) and that forced businesses to swallow “annual rate increases of 10 to 15 percent since MassCare’s inception.” For a candidate who is focusing on job creation, he’ll have to address the criticism that his plan “made it harder and harder for businesses to stay in the state.  And it’s made the state less attractive for entrepreneurs and investors.”

Rubin pointed out that Romney’s defense of Romneycare was inexplicable:

And finally, Romney showed himself to be the weakest frontrunner since, well, maybe Rudy Giuliani in 2008. Romney, unlike Giuliani, has a well-oiled campaign team and a strategy to focus on early primaries. However, there is no sign that he understands the enormity of his RomneyCare problem or has come up with a credible response.

Rubin was as brutal on Romneycare rendering Romney unelectable as she recently has been on everyone else:

This remark [by Obama that Romneycare was the template for Obamacare] — and many episodes like it — will be gold for Romney’s presidential primary components [sic]. Romney may think he can avoid or minimize the problem, but the central issue remains for primary voters: Why select the pol who first popularized the individual mandate?

Those who stand to benefit from Romney’s baggage — e.g. Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels — need not go “negative” themselves to make hay out of this. Between the free media and Mike Huckabee fanning the flames at every  opportunity, not to mention Tea Partyers and third-party groups, they can remain above the fray while Romney battles his critics.

Rubin rejected the notion that the federal/state distinction would or did work (italics in original):

This is the argument that Romney has been using for some time. As I have explained, it is a nonstarter for most conservatives who object to the notion of an individual mandate that was at the core of Romney’s plan. When I talk to Republican operatives and officeholders about this RomneyCare defense, someone usually asks, “Yeah, yeah, but what is their real argument?” The short answer is: This is it. The Romney team expects that the distinction between a state individual mandate and a national one will be good enough to get through a primary against lesser-known opponents. He’ll just talk about other things, the reasoning goes, even though opposition to ObamaCare and the growth of the federal government has been the driving force behind the conservative movement for a couple of years. Most Republicans I speak with think Romney’s problem is insoluble. But a smart Republican insider cautioned me yesterday, “In a divided field you just never know.” I suppose. But still.

Rubin found it “delusional” to believe that Romney could be the nominee without doing a Romneycare mea culpa:

If Romney never faces a tough question on RomneyCare, never has to debate and never confronts Tea Partyers enraged by any plan that requires citizens to buy insurance, he’ll do just fine. But that’s delusional.

Rubin made a persuasive case that Romney’s defense of Romneycare rendered him all but unelectable.  Nothing has changed in Romney’s position on Romneycare.

In the commentary by the panel afterwards (not in this video), Jonah Goldberg said Romney “looks like he was designed by East German scientists as the perfect android presidential candidate.” (That’s not an exact quote, but pretty close, as I’m doing it from memory and my contemporaneous tweet).

Reactions?

(h/t HotAir for video link)

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Comments

DINORightMarie | November 30, 2011 at 9:25 am

I have two reactions:

1) That is what I have said all along about Romney – besides that he is a RINO flip-flopper who will say ANYTHING to get elected. His RomneyCare Mass. Nightmare was the template for ObamaCare. He must do a SINCERE mea culpa, as you (and Jenny dear) say, or he will not be credible.

In fact, I have asserted that this issue is the very reason that Obama and Co. want Romney as the nominee; they can destroy him as a credible alternative to Obama in the general, and Obama will coast to a win…..and the Senate will likely stay Blue/Dem majority, to boot, if Romney is the Republican nominee. A win-win from the 0’s perspective.

2) So what made dear, dear Jenny do such a Romney turnaround? Is she looking down the road as a possible employee of a Romney administration? After all, Obama has set the standard of employing his most sycophantic journOlists. Or did she just decide to help out the Obama admin. with their journalistic war against every nominee except Romney?

Only time will tell with #2. And as to #1, well…….. Romney is the NOT Conservative in the race – of the top 5, that is. RomneyCare may be his Waterloo.

First, Romney’s not repudiating Romneycare it is a deal-breaker for me, always has been – if he can flip-flop on everything else, but not THAT, then… he definitely has as much as one conviction, and it is not conservative.

I don’t know what this fool expects (and he is a fool). He can’t understand that when he says, “Romneycare is SO TEH AWEZOMEZ!!1!1!!eleventy1!!!1!!1!” he’s telling conservatives, “Screw you.” Consequently, he can’t understand why conservatives say to him, “Fine, screw you too.”

It isn’t complicated. And the fact that even Jennifer Rubin could understand it at one point, before she turned into Cujo, shows that it’s not a tough concept to grasp. He can love it; he can hate it; he can marinate it. But it’s a fact – telling conservatives “screw you” is no kind of methodology for winning a conservative primary. He may still win, but entirely by default. Yay.

All I and many other conservatives keep thinking is, “If you’re going to pander, you weasel, then pander all the way. Yet, you refuse to pander on the most social-engineery, leftish-pinko thing you’ve ever done?”

Unconscionable. I loathe him.

And this is visceral – the loathing for this man has transcended reason, and Romney also fails to understand that, as do all the people who think he’s inevitable. I’m a mostly rational person, normally even-tempered to a fault, and even my skin crawls when I watch him do interviews like the one linked above. He’s smarmy, he’s false, something is just off about this guy. All of which I could deal with if he didn’t snowball it all with the final avalanching “screw you” on Romneycare.

So, yeah. He’s got problems. They get bigger with every interview he does.

I never understood why so many were afraid of Romney or why the media and experts kept proclaiming the front runner or the inevitable nominee. In 2012, vs Obama, after Obamacare was the defining and animating issue for the party and conservative movement in 2009-10 and 0 GOPers in Congress voted for it(0!) and a driving factor behind the tea party, well, with all of that and more Romney was never going to be the nominee.

Same as Clinton in 2008 with the Iraq War. In 2008, given the mood of the Democratic Party and liberals, no one who voted for the Iraq War and supported it was going to be the nominee of the party.

The GOP was never going to go into 2012 vs Obama with a guy who signed the precursor to Obamacare on the ticket. It just didn’t make sense. It takes the entire issue off the table, every Republicans running would have to defend it, explain why they’re so against Obamacare and the mandate and all and yet they support a guy who passed the same thing in his state and provided the blueprints for Obamacare.

So, Romney was never going to be the nominee.

Newt appears to have lucked out by having his chief competition consist of a guy with zero political experience or elective experience whatsoever not to mention a total lack of understanding and depth on most issues and seeming womens issues, a 2 term congressman with no legislative achievements or accomplishments and no leadership posts of any kind in the party or executive experience of any kind from a deep blue state nonetheless who has a history of wild and crazy statements and of getting basic facts wrong, and a Gov of TX who reminds people of W, who has trouble putting sentences together and made himself into a natl object of ridicule. Not exactly a stellar field Newt is facing.

    holmes tuttle in reply to holmes tuttle. | November 30, 2011 at 10:21 am

    also, and this hasn’t really been mentioned a lot, but his Mormonism always made his nomination improbable. The GOP and conservatism still has a lot of its base in the South and among evangelicals(not to mention key early states like IA and SC being heavily evangelical). Fair or not, many evangelicals aren’t too keen on Mormons and are actually rather hostile towards them.

    So, that was was also going to be a factor.

    Your analogy to Hillary in 2008 wrt Iraq is spot on.

One more reaction – I loved this description of Romney:

“…Jonah Goldberg said Romney ‘looks like he was designed by East German scientists as the perfect android presidential candidate.’ ….”

Hahaha!! Too true! 😉

CenterRightMargin | November 30, 2011 at 10:29 am

Professor,

I’ve actually come to the conclusion that Romenycare is actually Romney’s “silver bullet” in the general election.

As you have noted, the attacks on Romney are going to be of two main variants:

1. He’s has no core positions; and
2. He’s a corporatist who is for big business and “the rich” and not for the middle class / “main street.”

And how does Romney respond to both of these?

“But what about Romneycare?”

How can you contrast Romney to Obama as “for the rich” when he passed a plan that the President then took as the basis for his health care plan?

Sure, Romney can distinguish the plans to some degree (no tax increases; 10th Amendment / “let each state be themselves, you can’t govern Texas and Massachusettes the same way / better incentives and controls at the state level; no medicare gutting; no banning private health care plans; his plan originally had fewer mandates and panels).

But, as everyone knows, the core structure – a mandate to buy insurance with penalties (though actually less in Mass), exchanges that list approved options, and a subsidy for those options – that is the core of both plans.

Mass’s plan was/is less ambition in subsidy and penalty, and generally less oppressive (and no board of rationing), but nevertheless.

As for the rest – on consistency – Romney just needs to more clearly and assertively articulate his “moderate conservativeness.” He’s flip-flopped, but so has everyone else in the hunt, especially Newt. But at least he can very clearly state: I did so because one core tenant of mine is: “Do Not Push Something That the Vast Majority of My Constitutuents Oppose.” And THAT is something that he can use to distinguish himself from Obama.

All the above notwithstanding, one thing I have noticed from listening to callers on Conservative Radio stations is that there is a strong undercurrent of “I won’t vote for Romney because he does not believe that Jesus is the lord” (heard that more or less verbatim on at least three occassions on one recent Hugh Hewitt show program). That’s unfortunate for a guy who clearly does live his life decently (and needs to role himself out to Republicans to show that). But it also, IMO, signals that Romney needs to pre-select an evangelical Christian running mate in order to win. Newt does not have to face this extra obstacle.

Romeny is the escents of the corporate/political “deal maker.”
And yes, that word is a pejorative.
I’ve seen this animal close up in the corporate world and I’ve seen their work go “off the rails” when they miss simple underlying details because the “deal” was more important than the “terms.”

Romney has no base.

He’s been living off of national name recognition and the hope that he’ll be the last man standing after all the other candidates self-destruct or are destroyed.

This is a big part of the reason why his campaign has remained so low profile. He needs the scrutiny to be on his rivals, so they can be destroyed one by one. He gains nothing but a target on his back if he raises his profile

With Romney, as with Gingrich, I get the impression that both are ready to deal with Democrats in a manner that replicates Scott Brown, and the senators from Maine. Gingrich will do this because he loves the tactics and strategies of politics. The problem being his becoming too immersed in the gamesmanship and not in the outcome, over time. Romney will readily make deals because he sees the Deal as the only metric of success. Such a metric doesn’t take into account such qualities as goodness, length of time, or outcome.

Gingrich will make an awesome WH Chief of Staff. That’s the position for a tough, brilliant infighter. Romney at Treasury could make deals that capitalize on his noted skill in turning around failing business. Both men are tempermentally unsuited to be our President

    JayDick in reply to DaveO. | November 30, 2011 at 11:52 am

    So, who do you like for President? How likely is he/she to beat Obama? At this pivotal time in our history, nothing else matters much in comparison.

Like all good socialists/progressives/Marxists, the many failed/failing examples of socialism are never evidence of basic flaws in the concept. They always believe that it was a good idea, just poorly implemented — we just need to try it again, with a few minor adjustments, and put somebody smarter (like themselves, or their friends from Harvard) in charge.

Romney is not going to disavow his signature accomplishment, and concerning Obamacare, as I have observed previously:

Why, with just a few tweaks, it would have a Republican (R) flavor [tastes kinda like RINO, or is that chicken], and would then become R-Omni-Care (kinder-gentler Republican care for “omni”/all).

Also, I agree with the pre-Romneyquest Rubin and many of the readers of this blog that that McDole, I mean Romney, is NOT all that “electable”, especially against the fierce Chicago-Alinskyite machine candidate, be it Obama or, heaven forbid, somebody else.

You mean she was against Romney before she was for him?

Flip floppers in favor of a flip flopping flip flopper, flip flop on flip flopper flip flopping?

Sorry, I just had to do that. It just flowed right off my tongue.

🙂

OH, Wait it’s:

Flip floppers in favor of a flip flopping flip flopper, flip flop on flip flopper NOT flip flopping?

Jen is the Washington Post’s version of a conservative. She seems to have a following along the DC corridor.

Bret had asked what questions to ask Mitt, and I suggested the question about not appearing in the Center Seat. Apparently Bret thought that too controversial.

Overall I commend Bret for doing the vetting few others are doing. All candidates must be vetted. Otherwise, the vetting will be done after the nominee is selected by the Obama goons.

I have a question. Can’t people hear that Romney talks in a fake genteel breathy higher-register-than-he-really has voice? Phoney fake. Fake. Fake. (Aside from that he says very little of substance.)

“If Romney never faces a tough question on RomneyCare, never has to debate and never confronts Tea Partyers enraged by any plan that requires citizens to buy insurance, he’ll do just fine.”

That’s the way this has played out so far. Romney hasn’t been required to answer tough questions about Romneycare. When softball questions come his way, Romney responds with falsehoods and that’s the end of the discussion.

Romney’s opponents don’t understand how bad Romneycare is and the left is saving their fire for later.

TeaPartyPatriot4ever | December 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm

My position to support Newt, more than Romney is for several reason, one of which is Romneycare.  Individually Mandated State Socialized Medicine should not be forced on the American people, as it is unconstitutional, and wrong, period. Private insurance companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, for example, should be the primary means of healthcare insurance, then state socialized subsidized healthcare insurance, like Medicare, as an option, not as the primary mandated source of healthcare insurance. and so on.. And Romney’s promise to repeal Obamacare, but will not say Romneycare, which is the exact same thing as Obamacare, was bad or wrong, let alone unconstitutional, smacks of blatant hypocrisy and cronyism, so much, that I just can’t stomach Romney, period.

Romney is so much like Obama, it’s uncanny, in his policies, politics, programs, and in their rhetorical lies..

If you are a Republican, not a Tea Party Constitutional Conservative as we will never vote for Romney, and are plan voting for Romney, they will give you a free nose clip, to hold your nose, while pulling the lever, or scratching the ballot paper..

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