COMMENTARY | Mitt Romney once avoided speaking about the Massachusetts healthcare reform as if his life depended on it. After embracing it for the first time, Romney is showing signs that alienating hardline conservatives is OK with him if it means gaining support from everyone else.
Andrea Saul, Romney’s campaign spokeswoman, reversed a longstanding trend and actually embraced the 2006 healthcare reforms he enacted as Massachusetts’ governor in an interview with Fox NewsWednesday, according to a Washington Post report.
Saul was responding to a misleading attack ad by a pro-Obama super PAC, which accuses Romney and Bain Capital of closing a Kansas steel mill and causing steelworker Joe Soptic’s wife to die of cancer after he lost employer-sponsored healthcare plan and couldn’t afford her treatments.
Anger with the ad was justified. It doesn’t mention that Soptic’s wife died five years after the plant shut down, and that she had her own private health insurance for most of that time. Romney was also in his pseudo-retirement phase at Bain when the plant was closed and the Obama administration should disavow the tasteless barb. The right raged over the fallacious spot, but their outrage hit its crescendo when Saul dared to break the unspoken ban on mentioning “Romneycare.”
Saul argued that Soptic’s wife wouldn’t have died if she lived in Massachusetts during Romney’s gubernatorial tenure. Her reasoning: Romney’s healthcare reforms would have required her to have insurance.
Ordinarily, touting accomplishments is standard fare for political elections. But, since most of the last two years were consumed by the GOP’s crusade against the Affordable Care Act; any pride Romney or his staff shows in his signature legislative achievement is treated like abject blasphemy.
Ann Coulter demanded Saul be fired — an odd penalty for telling the truth-and urged big ticket Romney donors to stop campaign contributions until she’s gone. Rush Limbaugh called it a “gold mine for Obama-ites” and Erick Erickson, editor of RedState.com labeled it “an unforced error of monumental idiocy.” Despite the different phrasing, the central message was clear: Mitt, your spokeswoman just eviscerated your “I won’t be Obama” platform.
But, there are lots of non-conservative voters in this country. To us, Saul’s “unforced error” was a monumental breath of fresh air for a campaign desperate for one.
Between the murky Bain Capital exit; the offshore bank accounts; and withholding the most anticipated tax statements in modern history; and trying to bury, instead of stand up for the healthcare reform “experience” he touted on Wednesday in the swing-state of Iowa; his credibility was too suspect to earn my support. There are enough White House transparency issues already.
If Andrea Saul’s descent into honesty is a sign of things to come — that the Romney campaign won’t scuttle itself just to tow the party line — I and other independent voters will be much more inclined to give Mr. Romney an ear.
Coulter claimed that Romney’s campaign wasn’t worth supporting if Saul remained spokeswoman. I say it isn’t worth supporting if she doesn’t.