In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Mitt Romney said that President Obama’s health care law was one of the reasons why he lost.
“The president had the power of incumbency,” Romney said. “ObamaCare was very attractive, particularly to those without health insurance. And they came out in large numbers to vote. So that was part of a successful campaign.”
There isn’t much evidence to support this theory. At the time of the election, opinions about the health care law were still more negative than positive, according to polls. And the major provisions expanding health care coverage won’t go into effect until 2014.
Reason’s Peter Suderman suggests that maybe Romney’s comment reflects a bitterness that he couldn’t run on expanding heath care coverage. “Romney often seems to understand the election in strictly transactional terms. Just a few weeks after the election, Romney blamed his loss on President Obama’s “gifts” to the electorate…” Suderman writes.
You can imagine this frustrating Romney. When RomneyCare passed back in 2006, a lot of folks in Massachusetts viewed it as a bid for the presidency: Romney was going to run as the Republican who made health care reform happen. It was going to be his signature achievement. Instead, it turned out to be Obama’s, and Romney was stuck in the deeply awkward position of defending the Massachusetts overhaul while taking a hard line against the president’s. So at this point my theory is that Romney may be a bit peeved that Obama got to run on a sweeping health care reform and he didn’t. Or, to put it another way, maybe Romney wanted this to be his gift and not Obama’s.
It’s also worth noting that though there’s always been a strong case to be made against Obamacare, the fact that Romney created the model for the law as governor of Massachusetts meant that he didn’t have credibility attacking Obama — thus neutralizing an issue that was one of the main catalysts for the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 2010.