Another reason why Pawlenty's health care answer was so awful 

As I observed last night, Tim Pawlenty's decision to back off his attack on Romneycare was a huge mistake. But I should have added that it was a mistake not only because it made him look weak, but also because it made him look like he's the one equivocating on health care rather than Romney.

I've elaborated in the past on why Romney's various defenses of his Massachusetts health care law don't hold up to much scrutiny. But in the debate, those untenable defenses went unchallenged, while Pawlenty struggled to back away from his statement on Fox News just a day earlier. Not everybody watching is familiar with the intricacies of the health care law, so all those viewers saw was Romney give a straightforward answer that must have been fairly accurate since his rival didn't counter any of his claims, while Pawlenty seemed evasive. What's worse is that Pawlenty clearly new this question was coming, so acting like a total weasel was a calculated political decision.

Then, Pawlenty's campaign manager Nick Ayers made things even worse in the spin room, telling Slate's Dave Weigel, "The point is, and what the governor's point was yesterday, is that everyone's got a few clunkers in their records. He continues to defend it."

In case you forgot, "clunkers" is the term that Pawlenty has used when describing his previous support for cap and trade. Going into the race, I assumed it would be a goal of the Romney campaign to try to use cap and trade to neutralize the Romneycare issue -- yet here you have Pawlenty's own campaign manager doing the job for them. It's quite stunning.

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