On Aug. 2, Mitt Romney enlisted some of the nation’s best-known Republican governors to praise Romney’s single term as governor of Massachusetts. One by one, they insisted America needs to elect a governor this fall, and that Romney fits the bill.
But the apparent plan to use Romney’s bona fides from his term as governor hit a major snag this week when the campaign brought up Romney’s signature health care law, to conservatives’ horror.
Romney’s term as governor didn’t play well in the GOP primary, where his history of reaching across the aisle to Democrats and creating a coverage mandate-based universal health care system did nothing to bolster his image among tea party conservatives.
But as the Romney campaign is learning, his record in Massachusetts is a tough sell in the general election as well. And it has come back to haunt him whether the campaign is billing his record as “severely conservative” (as Romney did during the primaries) or responsibly bipartisan.
Here’s an example of the latter, from the New York Times from Aug. 2:
Earlier in the day, at an event in Golden, Colo., Mr. Romney tried to strike a conciliatory tone, suggesting that he would work to reach across the aisle to find common ground with Democrats.
“We’ve got to have someone that goes to Washington that buries the hatchet and says, ‘You know what, there are good Democrats, there are good Republicans that care about America — let’s work together to get the American people working, get some growth again,’ ” Mr. Romney said, alluding to his time as governor of Massachusetts, where he had to work with Democrats in state government.
Despite the event featuring the Republican governors, it’s unclear whether Romney is trying to start a new push to highlight his record as governor. Regardless, Team Romney is now facing the wrath of its own base, which is apoplectic at the thought of Romney defending this Massachusetts health care law.
Democrats are also ready when it comes to Romeny’s time as governor. Back in June, the Obama campaign aired a TV ad assailing Romney’s economic record while if office, part of a larger campaign strategy that included using Massachusetts legislators who served while Romney was governor as surrogates.
Press reports, meanwhile, have shot some holes in Romney’s contention that his term as governor is a good predictor of a term in the White House. Romney’s repeatedly said he didn’t raise taxes as governor. But he did try to impose dozens of new fees — including on blind people — that don’t hold up well to scrutiny.