Pawlenty's do over on Romneycare 

Tim Pawlenty clearly wants a do over on Monday's Republican presidential deabte, and he went on Sean Hannity last night to take another stab at attacking Romneycare.

Here's the relevant exchange (video below):

HANNITY: I appreciate you being back. You know, it's interesting, I've read all the criticism and this was my take, I think the media was furious. You guys didn't kill each other or go after each other. And that everybody on that stage, rightly, I think went after President Obama's failed policies. Your reaction?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think in response to that direct question, I should have been much more clear during the debate, Sean. I don't think we can have a nominee that was involved in the development and construction of Obamacare and then continues to defend it. And that was the question. I should have answered it directly. And instead, I stayed focused on Obama. But the question really related to the contrast with Governor Romney. And I should have been more clear. I should have made the point that he was involved in developing it, he really laid the ground work for Obamacare, and continues to this day to defend it. I think that's a legitimate point in response to the question I was asked and I should have been more clear.

HANNITY: When I had an opportunity to interview Governor Romney on the day that he announced that he was running for president, I spent a lot of time asking him about this. Because I think it was clearly the biggest challenge that he is facing in the primary. And his answer was, well, if the White House -- why didn't the White House come to me was his answer. In other words, that he would have given them advice on what worked and what didn't work. And his argument is -- I'm just giving you a chance to respond -- is that he doesn't think the federal government has a right. But he does think the states has the right to do it over the federal government. In other words, it is a state issue. I wanted to get your reaction to that.

PAWLENTY: Well, I don't think you can prosecute the political case against President Obama if you are co-conspirator and one of the main charges against the president on the political level. And so, it really puts our nominee, if that who it turns out to be in a very difficult spot. And I understand Governor Romney's argument that it is different at the state level. But when you look at these two plans with only modest variations they are very similar, and nearly identical.

This is definitely a much stronger argument against Mitt Romney. In the last formulation of the attack, Pawlenty tried to argue that the two plans were similar because "You can take President Obama's word for it." By doing so, he not only came off as weaker -- like he didn't want to come out and say it himself, so was hiding behind somebody else's words -- but also, it goes without saying that Obama is not considered a reliable source by the GOP primary electorate. In fact, if Obama says it, it makes the argument more suspect. And Pawlenty doesn't need to cite Obama. He can point out that both Romney and Obama shared the same advisers on health care and describe all the features the two plans share. As I've written, both plans force individuals to purchase government-approved insurance policies, expand Medicaid, and provide subsidies for individuals to purchase government-designed insurance policies on government-run exchanges. The big test will be whether Pawlenty builds on this new line of attack, and actually pursues it in the next GOP debate, or if he has yet another change of heart. Though complicating Pawlenty's argument is the fact that his Medicare reform ideas are already part of Obamacare, as Conn Carroll explained earlier.


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