Into the breach of the health-care debate stepped former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney Monday morning -- and he took a stance that blended conservatism with socialism.
Before then-Gov. Romney helped pass a bill mandating Massachusetts residents to obtain health insurance in 2006, "a lot of people who were able to buy (insurance) just went to the hospital (emergency room)," Romney said on Laura Ingraham's radio show on WRKO-AM (680). "We said, 'No more free riders.'"
This came off as conservative chutzpah from a one-term governor (2003-07) who failed to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and whose support of statewide health insurance could further hurt his presidential prospects in 2012. For it sounds like Romney is playing defense by casting his cooperation with the Democratic-dominated state legislature in a Republican light as his party tilts ever more to the right on health care.
Laura seemed like she wasn't buying it, telling Mitt, "Sometimes experiments do fail" and that the bill was "not exactly the way I'd have fashioned it." She did concede that "I do like this state's trying new ways of going about things."
And it sounds like even Romney's would-be heirs in the Bay State are abandoning his standard. Romney noted that State Sen. Scott Brown, the GOP candidate in the special election for Ted Kennedy's former US Senate seat, was "one of those who supported the bill." Something tells me that Brown, sounding ever more conservative with an election looming on Jan. 19, won't appreciate Romney's bringing up the past. (Especially since on his own campaign website, Brown says he supports the 2006 Massachusetts health-care law.) And neither will the national Republican party, no matter how much Romney spins it.