When moderator Chris Wallace gave Tim Pawlenty a chance to go after Mitt Romney on health care, this time, he didn't pass it up.
During a June debate, Pawlenty declined to use the word "Obamneycare" to slam the Massachusetts health care plan Romney signed into law, even though he had used the phrase earlier, raising questions about whether he was ready to go toe-to-toe with Romney.
Tonight, Pawlenty was more aggressive: "I don't want to miss that chance again, Chris. Look, Obamacare was patterned after Mitt's plan in Massachusetts. And for Mitt or anyone else to say there aren't substantial similarities or they are not essentially the same plan -- it just isn't credible. So that's why I called it Obamneycare, and I think that's a fair label. I'm happy to call it that again tonight."
Romney cited the 10th amendment to argue that Massachusetts had the right to implement its plan, whereas the federal Affordable Care Act was an overreach. When host Chris Wallace asked where in the Constitution it says that the government can implement an individual mandate, Romney challenged Wallace:
Are you familiar with the Massachusetts constitution? I am. The Massachusetts constitution allows states for instance, to say our kids have to go to school. It has that power. The question is, is that a good or bad idea? I understand different people come to different conclusions. What we did in our state was this: We said, we're finding people are going to the hospital and getting the state to pay for them. Taxpayers are picking up hundreds of millions of dollars of costs from people who are free riders. We said we are going to insist those people who can afford to pay for themselves do so. We believe in personal responsibility. ... That was our conclusion. The right answer for every state is to determine what is right for those states, not to impose Obamacare on the nation. That's why I would repeal it.