GOP strategist Karl Rove recently needled potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over the health care system he signed into law while governor of Massachusetts, saying that he would effectively have to admit wrongdoing in pursuing the program.
In 2006, then-Gov. Romney worked to implement a new health care system that, among other reforms, pioneered the individual health insurance mandate, a staple of the national overhaul passed last year that congressional Republicans vehemently opposed.
Now, Rove says, the only way Romney can save face, considering the current GOP bluster -- including from Romney himself -- over repealing President Obama's "overreaching" and "unconstitutional" health care reform, is if he publicly recognizes his past as a "problem."
Here's the discussion between Karl Rove and conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt:
HH: All right, let's get to the presidential stuff. In the first hour of tonight's program, Dick Morris, with whom I'm appearing tomorrow night at the Nixon Library, said flatly Mitt Romney cannot get the presidential nomination because of Massachusettscare. Do you agree with that?
KR: I think it's too early to make that declarative sentence. But I do agree that this is the principal challenge that Mitt Romney's candidacy would face if he were to become a candidate. But look, my view is this year is a year in which every candidate gets a chance to recognize their challenges, to recognize their strengths, and to overcome their challenges, and to bolster their strengths. And if Mitt Romney recognizes that his answer on why on what they did in Massachusetts looks so much like what Obama tried to do to the country, if he recognizes that is a problem, then he'll work his way out of the problem. If he doesn't, he doesn't. But right now, everybody, it's better to describe the challenges they each face, than to make judgments about how they're going to handle those challenges over the next six or seven months. If somebody says look, I think this is so and so's challenge, and I don't think they're going to be able to overcome it, I don't think that they're going to be able to find an answer, that's one thing. But to say look, it's over right now, I'm not certain I would be that definitive.
While Rove seems to suggest that Romney simply repent for what is now considered a political sin by many on the right, Steve Kornacki wrote at Salon last year that Romney, who at the time was railing against the Democratic health care reform package, would be better off coming up with a different solution.
But Romney can never admit [he was wrong]. He's the early front-runner for the 2012 GOP presidential nod and the party's base is convinced that Obama's reform package represents some kind of Marxist plot. So Romney must be against it -- really against it. It's as if he believes the combination of heat and volume in his response to the House vote will cause Republicans to ignore his own Massachusetts record.