Romney vs The Base: Healthcare Edition

by Gwynn Guilford and Patrick Appel

On the same day the Bob Zoellick foofaraw erupted, Andrea Saul, Romney's press secretary, defended Romneycare on Fox News. Cue Republican outrage:

Conservatives have put aside their distrust of Romney on this issue in the name of beating Barack Obama. They thought he and his campaign team had gotten the message and the hints. Consider the scab picked, the wound opened, and the distrust trickling out again.

TPM rounds up more reactions from outraged conservatives here. Conn Carroll vents:

After their success running against the law in 2010, Conservatives wanted to run against Obamacare again in 2012. But the obvious similarities between Romneycare and Obamacare make that almost impossible. Romney could have chosen to renounce Romneycare early in the primaries as a failed experiment and a warning to the rest of the country as what not to do, but he chose to embrace it instead. The scariest part for conservatives is that what Saul said was not a gaffe. It is official Romney campaign policy.

Weigel mocks this line of attack on Romney:

Conservatives bet that health care reform was so obviously unconstitutional that it would be unspooled by the Supreme Court. That didn't happen. So they've got to face a general election with a candidate who merely understands health insurance reform better than most politicians, agrees with conservatives that states (not the feds) should implement it, and is not making it the centerpiece of a campaign that's unfolding in a period of 8 percent unemployment. How dare he.

Steve Kornacki believes that the comment was "just a clumsy attempt to keep playing the same game" Romney has been playing on healthcare, "to continue pretending there’s a huge difference between RomneyCare and Obamacare." Noam Scheiber sees the comment as a gross miscalculation on the part of Team Romney:

Unfortunately for Saul and Romney, the whole episode confirms the main conclusion…that the campaign has massively underestimated the fever on the right from the very beginning, and that this underestimation continues to complicate their lives in all sorts of ways.

Frum, on the other hand, wishes Romney would embrace Romneycare and reform Obamacare.