MIAMI, Fla. -- Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he considers it "a compliment" for President Barack Obama to refer to him as the "grandfather of Obamacare."
It was an odd comment, given the fact that Romney, the Republican nominee for president, is running on a promise to repeal the law. But it was an apparent case of Romney misspeaking slightly, not a shift in policy positions, since immediately afterward at Univision's "Meet the Candidate" forum he went into a long exposition of why he thinks Obama's national health care law is wrongheaded.
Romney did follow up his comment with a nod to the politics of his own health care overhaul, which he signed into law in 2006 as governor of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts law included a mandate to obtain health insurance, a feature also included in the president's Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Strong conservative grassroots dislike for Obamacare was an animating factor behind the Tea Party movement and the GOP victories in the 2010 midterm elections. And Romney made mention of this.
"This was during my primary, we thought it might not be helpful," Romney said, referring to his own health care law.
Romney faced pressure to disown the health care overhaul. He did not do that, but he distinguished his plan from Obama's by arguing that the federal government should not tell states how to structure their health care systems. He made that same argument again on Wednesday.
Romney adviser Kevin Madden said in an e-mail: "The governor summarily dismantled the faulty policy logic of Obamacare and pledged to repeal it as president. To the applause of the crowd."
Here is the full text of Romney's comment:
"I have experience in health care reform. Now and then the president says I'm the grandfather of Obamacare. I don't think he meant that as a compliment but I'll take it. This was during my primary, we thought it might not be helpful. But, um, I've actually been able to put in place a system that fit the needs of the people of my state, and I'm proud of the fact that in my state, after our plan was put in place, every child has insurance, 98 percent of adults have insurance, but we didn't have to cut Medicare by $716 billion to do that. We didn't raise taxes on health companies by $500 billion as the president did. And so, we crafted a program that worked for our state, and I believe the right course for each state we're going to give you the Medicaid dollars you've had in the past, plus grow them with inflation, plus one percent, and you as the states are now going to be given targets to move people towards insurance, and you craft programs that are right for your state. Some will copy what we did. Others will find better solutions. But the nature of the American experiment has been letting states build plans and ideas that work for each of them, share those ideas with one another. The idea of a federal government stepping in, and telling people, here's the kind of insurance you have to have. You don't get the choice of whether you want comprehensive or whether you want catastrophic. The government is going to tell you what you have to have. The government is ultimately have a board that tells you what kind of care you can receive. That in my opinion is not the right way to go on health care. The approach that I would propose is one that would give individuals choice as opposed to government choice. That's going to get our people insured and will keep the cost of health care from going through the roof as it has been, and I believe it will allow people to continue to have the relationship with their doctor and their provider that they want."