Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dear Romney Campaign: Did You Really Just Say That on TV?

Mitt Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul.
Remember when John McCain said "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" during the 2008 presidential election right after America had just entered the deepest recession that this nation has seen since the Great Depression?  Remember that?  Political junkies, pundits and so-called strategists often cite that precise moment as the moment when John McCain lost the election. Hindsight is always 20/20 so we can't know for sure whether the Romney camp has just committed the same fatal error, but if Obama remains in the White House for the next 4 years then it just might have something to do with what the Romney camp said this week.

Here's the situation: In 2006, then-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney passed a universal health care law ("RomneyCare") which included, among other things, an individual mandate requiring the people of Massachusetts to either buy health insurance or face a tax penalty.  Fast forward four years to 2010 - President Obama passes the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") which includes the same exact individual mandate that was introduced by RomneyCare.  Two different laws, same individual mandate.  Still with me so far?  Good.

Now if you happened to catch the reality TV show that was the GOP primary, then you know that Romney took a beating from his fellow Republican colleagues for several months over the fact that he had implemented his own individual health care mandate while he was Governor of Massachusetts.  This became a major point of contention.  So much, in fact, that then-GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum warned the Republican establishment that Mitt Romney was the "worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama" specifically because of the health care mandate issue. So as you can see, this individual mandate issue poses somewhat of a problem for Mitt Romney because if his mandate is associated with Obama's mandate then he is subject to the same ridicule as Obama.  Suffice it to say, the Romney people are painfully aware of this fact and have tried to distance their candidate from Obama on this issue. 

Enter the comment.

A Left-wing SuperPAC, Priorities USA Action, launched a campaign ad featuring a man who lost his wife to cancer after Romney's private equity firm, Bain Capital, forced his employer to close its doors; the general premise of the ad being that Romney's firm caused the man to lose his health care, thereby causing him to lose his wife (it should be noted there are, of course, other details surrounding the man's story which are omitted by the ad).   In response to this ad, Romney camp press secretary Andrea Saul had this to say on Fox News:

"This particular case was a plant that was closed years after Governor Romney left the company and, to that point, you know, if people had been in Massachusetts, under Governor Romney’s health care plan, they would have had health care."
Jump to 1:20 mark:
Reaction from conservative author Eric Erickson of RedState:
Erick Erickson @EWErickson
OMG. This might just be the moment Mitt Romney lost the election. Wow.
Reaction from super-conservative Ann Coulter on Fox's Sean Hannity show:
“And then we have Romney campaign spokesman Andrea Saul and...Her response was not that it was despicable, not that Bain… that Romney had left Bain five years earlier or the woman died five years after the plant closed and didn’t even get her insurance from her husband, her response was, ‘Well, if she had lived in Massachusetts with Mitt Romney’s health care plan, she would have had health insurance.’ Anyone who donates to Mitt Romney, and I mean the big donors, ought to say if Andrea Saul isn’t fired and off the campaign tomorrow, they are not giving another dime, because it is not worth fighting for this man if this is the kind of spokesman he has…
There’s no point in you doing your show, there’s no point in going to the convention and pushing for this man if he’s employing morons like this. This ad is the turning point and she has nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat! She should be off the campaign.”
Jump to 1:45 mark:

Reaction from the infamous Right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh:
Now wait, you're telling me that you get a campaign person on from the Romney campaign to respond to an allegation that your candidate is responsible for a woman's death and your answer is "she would have had health insurance if she'd lived in Massachusetts."
What -- um -- I don't know the people at the Romney campaign but I'm gonna tell you your candidate is accused of killing a woman because ---
This isn't about health insurance! They're out there saying that your guy killed a woman! And your answer is, well she'd of had health insurance if she lived in Massachusetts?

And the official reaction from the Romney camp:

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